Make Freezer Jam, No Sweat
The most chill way to preserve the season.
Stop what you're doing and make freezer jam. I don't care if you're in the middle of making freezer jam; stop that and make some freezer jam. Produce seasons are fleeting, the weather is increasingly fickle, and freezer jam is ridiculously easy to make, even if you've never made jam before. Not only will it keep for up to a year in the freezer (or in the fridge for three months), it's the ideal project for a scorching summer day because unlike traditional jam-making methods where there are giant pots of water steaming up the kitchen, there's just a little bit of saucepan action. Plenty of no-cook freezer jam recipes exist as well for those days when you just can't. Here's how you can.
Get the proper jar for the job.
First, make sure you've got the right kind of canning jars. Glass jars with straight sides or angled outward are OK, as are plastic jars. Glass jars with shoulders are a hazard because frozen liquid expands upward and may cause the glass to crack. Give the jars a thorough cleaning with soap and hot water, and make sure the lids and bands are impeccably clean. So long as you're keeping things tidy, consider investing in a canning funnel that fits the opening of a wide-mouth jar and keeps your entire universe from getting sticky. Unless you want it to.
Come correct with the pectin.
Next, select the correct pectin for the job. Pectin is the stuff that gives jam its gloriously goopy texture, but not all commercial pectins are especially suited to this particular task. Look for pectins that are formulated for freezer recipes; they'll say so on the box. Not all pectins are available in all areas of the country, but a few safe bets are MCP Premium Fruit Pectin, Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin, Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin, and Pomona's Pectin.
Pick the perfect fruit.
Then, go wacky at the market or stand, in your yard, or at the U-Pick. Some of these fruits come around for just a viciously few weeks a year, so feel free to exercise extremely poor impulse control. Nab it all, and whatever you don't stuff into your mouth (after you wash it), freeze or turn into jam. Know going in that this quick jam might be a little bit runnier than the long-cooked jam you might be used to, but the whole not-sweating-your-butt-off factor balances it all out.
Get the right recipe.
Speaking of balancing things out: The right recipe is key. This might seem like cop-out, but there is no magic formula of adding one cup of fruit to this much sugar, acid, and pectin and then BOOP! here's jam. Fruits vary wildly and call for different amounts of co-ingredients to be delicious and safe over time. Here are a few to get you started:
From Southern Living
From Cooking Light
From Food & Wine