I’ve been making this jam recipe for years. It’s seriously easy, and doesn’t involve a steamy kitchen and lots of equipment. In fact if you’re using ripe berries, peaches or nectarines, there’s no cooking at all! I made this jam on AM Northwest last week, and it was a huge hit. Seriously, it tastes like fresh fruit from the garden. And, you can enjoy it all year. I find myself making this with different berries as they come into season.
The best part of this jam besides the ease, is that you can customize it to your liking. Sometimes I will add lemon zest in my raspberry jam, or substitute 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine for an equal amount of fruit to make a sangria jam. I also like to mix fruit depending on what I’ve got, like nectarine blackberry or raspberry lemon peach. The flavor combos are endless! Oh, and because you’re using Instant Clearjel to thicken it, you can control the amount of sugar you add. Keep reading to learn how to tinker with the sugar. Oh and it’s gluten-free and vegan too!
I’ve been experimenting this week with ripe apricots and red plums (since I have a case of each), and I’ve found that for these two fruits, I prefer to simmer the jam mixture for 5 to 10 minutes to really bring out their luscious flavors. Still, we’re talking 5 to 10 minutes!! I did wind up adding an extra tablespoon or two of Instant Clearjel plus an extra 1/2 cup sugar to the apricot jam, so it was a bit thicker and with just a touch more sweetness. For the red plum jam, I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup, so that it kept its tart flavor. Most of the time the 2 cups of sugar is perfect.
If you’re not familiar working with Instant Clearjel, there are a few things you need to know. The Instant Clearjel MUST be mixed with the dry sugar in this recipe (which is why you can’t sub agave here.) It is an instant starch, which means that it will gel everything into a big glob, if not diluted with the other dry ingredients (i.e. sugar), and then slowly whisked into the smashed fruit. I know this from experience. Trust me on this. You can find Instant Clear Jel at bakery supply stores, Amazon (and here on Amazon), King Arthur Flour, and nuts.com. Make sure to get the Instant and not regular Clearjel!
You can reduce the sugar to taste if desired, as long as you have at least 1 cup to mix with the Instant Clearjel. I found that two cups was just sweet enough so that it tastes like jam, but isn’t cloyingly sweet like many jams can be. The reason that most jam is so sweet is because you need enough sugar to both jell it into jam and also keep botulism at bay. The great thing about this freezer jam is that it’s frozen, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Want to know something else that’s fantastic about this freezer jam? You can stir it into sparkling water to make easy homemade sodas, or add some rum or vodka for a tasty cocktail. It also makes a fab topping for ice cream or cheesecake, stirred into ice cream, over ice cream, stirred into plain yogurt, layered with chia pudding as a parfait, over toast, layered into cookie bars, baked into coffee cake or served with scones… To me it’s the best way to enjoy ripe summer fruit all year long. And trust me when I say that this jam tastes like a spoonful of ripe, fresh fruit!
Feel free to post any questions you have in the comment section below. I’m posting the segment from my TV segment as well, so you can see a little video tutorial of how to make it. Oh and one more thing. Don’t try to can jam made with Instant Clearjel. It won’t work. For canned jam you can use regular Clearjel, but then it’s not freezer jam and also it will need more sugar to preserve it. Trust me with this recipe and stick to freezer jam. Once you go freezer jam you’ll never look back!
This recipe makes about 6 small deli containers. Your yield will depend on the containers you use. I recommend the small plastic deli containers (see the photo below) or freezer-safe glass canning jars.
- 5 cups smashed or tightly packed berries, nectarines or peaches (if desired, substitute 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine with the smashed fruit)
- 2 cups granulated sugar*
- 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Instant Clearjel
- Place the fruit in a large bowl and mash or crush it. You can also coarsely chop the fruit in a food processor or blender.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together sugar and Instant Clearjel, whisking until well mixed. Slowly add the sugar mixture to the fruit, whisking until very well mixed and sugar looks dissolved. If you don’t stir it well, the starch will thicken in clumps. This should only take a minute or so.
- Let the jam sit for 10 minutes to completely firm up, before scooping into freezer-safe containers with lids. Freeze the jam for up to 1 year.
- If using apricots or plums, make the jam mixture above, making sure to whiz the fruit in a blender or food processor. Simmer the mixture in a large pot for 5 to 10 minutes to really bring out the flavor. If you decide that you want your jam a little thicker at this point, whisk 1 or 2 tablespoons of Instant Clearjel with 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar until mixed and then whisk into your jam mixture. If your jam is too thick, you can whisk in a little bit of liquid (wine or water).
- Let your jam cool before spooning it into a container and freezing it.
- *If using organic sugar, whiz it up in a blender or food processor to make super-fine
- Variation: I love adding the grated zest of 1 lemon to raspberry or blackberry jam
- Copyright © 2015 Julie Hasson