One of my earliest kitchen memories is making raspberry freezer jam with my maternal grandma. She always let us stir in cup after cup of sugar, keeping us busy in the kitchen. I’m certain it took twice as long when we were involved, but she always made it feel like our job was the most important. And with 4 pounds of sugar in each batch, there certainly was plenty of stirring to be done.
When I started to make freezer jam with my own children, I couldn’t help but wonder if all that sugar was actually necessary for freezer jam.
After researching several methods, I learned that freezer jam recipes that use pectin, rely on the high concentration of sugar for proper thickening. So, yes! Traditional recipes do need 4 pounds of sugar for every 4 1/2 cups of fruit. That’s a lot of sugar.
But! Here’s the good news… there are other thickeners available that do not need sugar to thicken your jam.
The thickener I prefer to use is a non-GMO modified cornstarch called E-Z Gel.
Here’s why I like it:
- The amount of sugar can be adjusted. Make it to taste and make it to your liking. Sugar substitutes, like Splenda or Stevia, can also be used.
- Hot or cold liquids can be thickened, meaning you can use E-Z Gel for fresh or cooked jams.
- The jam will not thin, weap, or break, so it can be canned, refrigerated, or frozen.
- Thickening is almost immediate (about 5 minutes!), making the process soo quick and easy.
So, using this thickener, you are in control of your results! If your jam is too thin, add a little more thickener. If your jam is too thick, add a little more fruit, juice, or water. If you need it sweeter, add more sugar! If you want to play with flavors, add fruit purees! Your recipe is not dependent on a specific formula for success!
When your jam is just the way you like it, you can eat it immediately or preserve it for later. Cooked jams can be processed in a steam or water bath canner. Fresh and cooked jams can be frozen in air tight containers for up to a year.
This method is the quickest and easiest way to get fresh jam in your bellies!
Freezer Fruit Spread (Reduced Sugar!)
- 4 cups fine chopped or crushed fruit or berries
- 1/2 cup - 2 cups sugar or sugar substitute (stevia, Splenda, etc.)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup E-Z Gel
Combine fruit, 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Taste and adjust sugar as needed, adding up to 2 cups of sweetener.
Gradually add E-Z Gel, stirring until well mixed.
Let stand 5 minutes to thicken.
Stir until smooth.
Use immediately, store in the fridge up to a week, or freeze for up to a year in an air tight container.
- The amount of fruit is measured after it has been chopped. - The amount of sugar can be adjusted for desired sweetness. E-Z Gel is not dependent on sugar for thickening, so you can more or less, adjusting to your preferences. - Use bottled lemon juice, as it has a consistent Ph level, unlike fresh juice. - The recipe can easily and successfully be halved or doubled, depending on your quantity of fruit!