Strawberry Season is here! It’s time to make Strawberry Freezer Jam!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: MCP Premium Fruit Pectin has changed its formula, and so this recipe has been updated to reflect that change. Specifically, the recipe for strawberry freezer jam no longer contains corn syrup as one of the ingredients. Follow the new directions below.
This tutorial is written for use with MCP Premium Fruit Pectin. If you use any other kind of pectin, please consult the directions provided. The process is generally the same; however, the amounts may differ slightly.
Strawberry freezer jam is one of the best, easiest (and tastiest!) ways to preserve the fresh taste of summer. If you make enough, it will last well into the wet, cold, dark days of winter, when a spoonful of freezer jam on a fresh buttermilk biscuit is like sinking your teeth into a bite of strawberry sunshine.
That being said, I’m pretty sure that all the pectin companies use the same guy to write their directions, because as far as I’m concerned, they are all messed up. The directions have you measure things [sugar] really early without telling you that they will not be added at that time. They have you measure other things [lemon juice] out and never actually include any instructions about when to add it – you just have to figure it out for yourself.
I’ve made a ton of strawberry freezer jam, and by now you’d think I’d have the process memorized, but every year, I still have to remind myself – “Put the sugar in last. Put the sugar in last. Put the sugar in last.” Hopefully, this tutorial will set things right.
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How to Make Strawberry Freezer Jam • Step-by-Step
[Scroll down for a printable recipe]
First, you need some strawberries. For one batch of Strawberry Freezer Jam, you need about four pints of strawberries. (Or three very generous pints.)
STEP 1 – Mashed the berries
Clean and hull the berries, and then squish them up, a cup or so at a time, with a potato masher. You can process them in a blender or food processor if you prefer, but I like having actual strawberry pieces in my jam. Pulverizing them beyond recognition from the get-go makes for a too-smooth jam, in my opinion.
Measure out exactly 3 1/4 cups of mashed berries into a large bowl. (Later you will see I had to change bowls because I wasn’t thinking when I started making this batch. You need a big bowl.)
Step 2 – Measure the sugar
Measure out exactly 4 1/2 cups of white sugar into a medium bowl, and then set it aside. Do not put the sugar into the berry mix yet.
Step 3 – Mix the lemon juice into the berries
Measure out 1/4 cup lemon juice. The box directions say to use fresh, but this is one time when I do use the bottled stuff. It works just fine. Stir the lemon juice into the mashed strawberries.
Step 4 – Add the pectin
Next you need your pectin. (As I stated previously, this tutorial is written using MCP Regular Pectin. I have a lot of friends who swear by Sure-Jell (which I’m pretty certain is made by the same company that makes MCP). I also have a lot of friends who love the low-sugar pectin options. I may change in the future, but I’m an MCP girl right now.
Sprinkle the pectin on top of the strawberry lemon juice mixture and stir it in. I do this a little at a time to avoid having little pectin lumps in my jam mixture.
Step 6 – Stir the berry mixture
Stir the strawberry and pectin every five minutes or so, for 30 minutes total. Some people are very precise about this stirring. They set timers and get all fidgety if they are 30 seconds late. My jam is lucky if I stir it every 10 minutes. I usually use the time to clean up the kitchen: complete a task, stir the jam, complete another task, stir the strawberries again. Some chores take longer than others, so my timing is never every five minutes. Don’t sweat it – my jam always turns out fine.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT STIR CONSTANTLY! Doing so will break down the connective strands forming in the jam, and you will end up with a thick syrup, as opposed to a spreadable jam. It’s kind of like what happens to Jello if you just keep stirring it and never let it gel.
That one time Mr B helped me make freezer jam:
- Mr B: “I’ll help you stir. I always loved to make jam with my Aunt Ailene.”
- Me: “OK. Thank you! Just remember – this is freezer jam, not cooked jam. Don’t stir it all the time.”
- Mr B: “Aunt Ailene always said to keep stirring all the time.”
- Me: “I know – because that was cooked jam. Freezer jam is different.”
- Mr B: “Aunt Ailene said…”
- Me: [Rolls eyes.]
Next day …
- Mr B: “This jam is really thin.”
- Me: “Yep. We have a couple years’ worth of strawberry syrup now!” (Which is not entirely a bad thing!)
- Mr B: “Oh. Yeah. Well…”
>Forehead slap!< It was right about this time that I realized my bowl was way too small and changed bowls.
Step 7 – Add the sugar
NOW. Now it is time to add the sugar. Pour it in slowly, stirring it in as you go, so that there are no sugar lumps in the mixture.
Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. This will take about five minutes.
By the time the sugar has completely dissolved, the jam will have thickened a little. Don’t worry if it is still runny though – it takes about 24 hours to achieve optimum jamminess.
Step 8 – Finish up
Pour freezer jam into containers. Leave a quarter-inch or more of headroom in any sealed containers.
You can eat it right away, but if you are planning to freeze it for later, be sure to allow it to sit out on the counter for a day to let it to set up.
That’s all there is to it. The whole process – start to finish – will take about 45 minutes. One batch makes about seven cups of Strawberry Freezer Jam.
Strawberry Freezer Jam
- 4 quarts strawberries
- 4 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 box MCP Pectin
- Clean and hull the berries, and then squish them up, a cup or so at a time, with a potato masher.
- Measure out exactly 3 1/4 cups of mashed berries into a large bowl.
- Measure out exactly 4 1/2 cups of white sugar into a medium bowl, and set aside. Do not put the sugar into the berry mix yet.
- Stir 1/4 cup lemon juice into the mashed strawberries.
- Gradually sprinkle the pectin on top of the strawberry lemon juice mixture a little at a time, stirring to avoid any pectin lumps.
- Stir the strawberry and pectin mixture every five minutes or so, for 30 minutes total.
- After 30 minutes have passed, give the strawberry mixture one last stir.
- Slowly add sugar, stirring it in as you go, so that there are no sugar lumps in the mixture. Stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. (DO NOT stir constantly or you will have runny jam!)
- By the time the sugar has completely dissolved, the jam will have thickened a little. Jam will fully thickened after about 24 hours.
- Pour freezer jam into containers. Leave a quarter-inch or more of headroom in any sealed containers.
P.S. I’m sharing this recipe on the Weekend Potluck Recipe Linkup! Check it out for more great recipes!
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