I can't believe that with all the posts I've done on this blog I haven't done one on freezer jam yet. Freezer jam used to be my staple jam over cooked jam. It is easy easy easy and I've never had a batch fail, even when I had to go change diapers or break up the quarreling children in the middle of the jam session. Seriously, freezer jam is the best for busy mom types who have way too many little people distractions to stand over a pot of jam continuously stirring while it heats up for 15-20 minutes then immediately put it into hot jars and into the canner. With freezer jam, you don't have any of those absolutes on timing and you don't have anything hot your kiddos can get themselves into trouble with either. So I used to do almost exclusively freezer jams until my freezer got filled with other stuff and my kids got a bit bigger where they can take care of themselves and their own problems if I can't right away. Now I do more cooked jams, but some things are just plain better tasting as a freezer jam than a cooked jam. Strawberry is one. Apricot is another.
I got some apricots from a friend. They were small and hard even though most of them weren't green anymore, so normally I would have let them sit in the box and ripen for another day or two. However, this time I was going out of town and didn't have time to let them get more ripe. So I made the jam with them as they were.
What you'll need:
Apricots (or other fruit if you're doing a different flavor jam) Enough to make 3 cups smashed fruit.
A box of pectin (I like MCP in the yellow box)
4 1/2 cups Sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup lemon juice as called for in the recipe in the pectin box.
A pot or bowl to mix it all in. You won't be cooking it, so any bowl will do as long as it's large enough to hold the smashed fruit and sugar.
First, wash your apricots. If you're not using your apricots right away, don't wash them. Water gets in the top and the inside turns brown if you wash them then wait until tomorrow to make the jam. Yep, experience.
When the apricots are washed, you'll need to get the pits out. If they're nice and ripe, you'll need a knife, but if they're still stiff they'll tear open without damaging the fruit. To pit an apricot, find the little crack that runs down one side. Sorry the picture's kind of fuzzy, but you can see the crack on the left side.
Then either cut through that crack and around the other side or pull it apart at the crack with your thumbs or fingers. Toss the pit in the trash and your apricot is ready for the next step.
Now, if your apricots are nice and ripe you can put them in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. Mine weren't soft enough for that, so I used my food processor. You just want to pulse chop them--don't liquefy them. After they are mashed or chopped, measure the amount called for in the recipe. Mine was 3 cups. Add the lemon juice if called for now and mix it up. I added the 1/2 cup lemon juice the recipe calls for.
Once the fruit and lemon juice are mixed together you can go get the legos out for the kids or whatever--the lemon juice will keep the fruit from going brown while you take care of whatever you need to. If there's no pressing concerns, move on to the next step.
Add the pectin a little at a time and stir it in. Some pectin brands have you cook the pectin on the stove in some water--that's why I like MCP, there's NO cooking to make their freezer jam. The instructions say to stir it every 5 minutes for 30 minutes to dissolve the pectin, but this is totally flexible. You can set a timer for every 5 minutes if you want or not. Stir it every so often until it's been at least 30 minutes since you added the pectin.
Now you're ready for the next step. Add the corn syrup. The corn syrup helps keep the jam from crystallizing in the freezer. Then add the sugar. You can add this a little at a time or all at once. It's easier to stir it in if you add it a little at a time.
Now the instructions say to stir it constantly until the sugar dissolves, but guess what? If you don't stir continuously, nothing burns to the bottom of the pan! I usually treat this about like the pectin--I'll stir some then let it sit then stir some more. You'll know the sugar has dissolved when you take a taste of your jam and it's not crunchy. Pretty simple.
Once the sugar has dissolved, you're ready to put it in jars. A canning funnel is great here for a little less mess. You can also use other containers like tupperware, etc. Just leave a little space for expansion as the jam freezes.
Put lids on the jars or containers and let them sit at room temperature for a few hours (the instructions say 24, but I've put it in the freezer sooner than that without trouble), then put the full ones in the freezer and the half full one in the fridge so you can have it on your toast in the morning.
There you have it. Freezer jam. So simple--give some a try, especially if you get hold of strawberries or apricots. Yum.