Non-Doomsday Prepping: In a Jam
While perhaps not as pressing a concern as last spring’s toilet paper shortage, this fall’s shortage of canning supplies (particularly pectin, powdered citric acid, jars, and metal, one-time-use lids) was a source of frustration, even desperation for many American gardeners and home cooks.
Desperation? Surely, I’m exaggerating here. But clearly some people were willing to go to great lengths for their jam this year.
Luckily, there are other alternatives available aside from sacrificing yourself to a million year old alien eldritch for getting your jam fix.
Before we get started, a brief description of the jam-making process: Crushed fruit is mixed with sugar, and in most cases lemon juice/citric acid and commercial pectin. Then it’s cooked till the combination of sugar and fruit takes on a jelly-like, semi-solid consistency. Then, the jam is sealed from the air to prevent spoilage.
Because most fruits have pectin already (scientifically speaking, pectin is a gelatin-like substance that many types of fruit make naturally), when making jam you don’t necessarily NEED to add pectin. So, it wasn’t the end of the world for dedicated jam lovers that commercial pectin was in short supply – though it’s certainly easier to make jam with commercial pectin. If you know where to look, you can find pectin in bulk for a huge discount online. If you use a lot of pectin, or it’s sold out in your area, it may be worth the effort of hunting some down online – Fruit Pectin Mix – Leaveners & Thickeners – Nuts.com and Hoosier Hill Fruit Pectin, 2 lb bag – Baking & Cooking (hoosierhillfarm.com) will get you started.
And because most fruits are acidic, you don’t need to necessarily add lemon juice (store bought lemon juice, so you know exactly what the pH will be – lemons themselves can vary in pH) or powdered citric acid when making jam. In the UK and Australia, it’s common for cooks not to put anything in jam other than fruit and sugar. The reason why jammakers in the US add acidic ingredients to their jam is to ensure that botulism cannot grow in their final product.
Wait, what? BOTULISM?
Botulism as we all know, is a very nasty bugaboo, way worse than our archnemesis coronavirus. If botulism had a chance, it would beat the hell out of the coronavirus, publicly humiliate it, steal its girlfriend, and key its car for good measure. Covid-19 is basically the disease equivalent of Wil Wheaton to botulism’s The Rock, only you don’t want to ever meet botulism while it would be freakin’ awesome to meet The Rock.
Botulism is everywhere all around us but luckily it behaves itself most of the time. But when it starts to grow in canned foods which are low in acid and stored at room temperature, it makes a toxin that even in a minuscule quantity can kill you. Why canned foods specifically? It’s because botulism is anaerobic, meaning it grows where there is no air present, like inside of a sealed can. You can actually get botulism from non-canned foods, if they’re very dense and air can’t get into them, like pots of rice or potatoes that have been kept at room temperature too long. Luckily for all of us, botulism hates acid and cold so we can add lemon juice or powdered citric acid to our jam and keep our rice in the fridge and all will be well.
Please rest assured that the risks of botulism in jam are vanishingly low. For all the press botulism gets, in the United States it’s incredibly rare – more people get botulism from tattoos than from home canned foods. Virtually all cases of botulism come from low acid foods that were improperly canned, like meat and carrots and green beans. The few cases that are in more acidic foods are typically in tomatoes, not jam…even without the lemon juice added to your fruity concoction. And while I did read of a couple of anecdotes regarding botulism in pickled beets, I realized that no one voluntarily eats pickled beets, thus those cases simply had to be murder.
Fruit is just too acidic to allow botulism to take hold. I have some old cookbooks and NONE of them have ReaLemon as an ingredient because the fruit in jam is acidic enough all on its own. Now, fruit is subject to some other nasty beasts like mold and yeast, but the good news is, these things are obvious and wouldn’t kill you anyway, were you to accidentally get a very unpleasant mouthful of them. But if you ever open a jar of homemade jam (or homemade anything! Or store bought anything for that matter! People do get botulism from commercially canned products sometimes!) and see mold or it smells bad/fermented, dispose of the whole container in a place where not even animals can get to it. It is distantly possible that mold and yeast growing unchecked in a jar of jam could raise the pH enough to allow botulism to grow and make its nasty toxin.
Please don’t allow this astronomically unlikely chain of events put you off jam making. It is also distantly possible that you will win the lottery tomorrow, but no one starts shopping on that expectation.
To prevent the growth of any grody jam loving critters, we put our jam into glass jars, seal them with 2 part metal lids consisting of a lid with a rubberized edge, and a ring you screw onto the glass jar to smoosh that rubberized edge down and keep your lid in place. Then we process the jars in boiling water (which means we boil the heck out of them) to remove the air which can encourage mold growth, and to kill off as many microbes as we can. Alas, botulism spores are not killed by boiling temps, and coupled with the lack of air inside a sealed can, this is why it’s so darn important to ensure you have low pH when you’re canning foods in boiling water canners.
Botulism’s worst nightmare.
Since we fortunately never ran out of lemon juice, and workarounds exist for pectin and citric acid, the most pressing concern for those of us canning in 2020 was the lack of jars and lids. Allegedly the shortage was due to more people canning at home this year due to time on their hands from the lockdowns, but I suspect it has a lot more to do with people feeling uncertain about general unrest and wanting to be prepared just in case – including acquiring skills they may not have had before, like preserving food.
Due to the jar and lid shortages, anyone who hadn’t laid in a supply of lids and jars well in advance – a tough job under ideal circumstances since they do take up space, the jars in particular, and it’s hard to predict how many you need in advance – were out of luck when late summer rolled around. Peaches were left languishing on countertops, cherries devoured by very satisfied armies of fruit flies, apples went back to their day job keeping doctors away.
While I happened to discover a cache of jars I had laid in ages ago in my son’s attic and promptly forgotten about, I myself did not have anywhere near enough lids to contain my garden largesse. Surely, I thought, surely there had to be another way? Surely back in the day before the advent of cheaply purchased convenient metal lids, people had to put up jam SOMEhow?
Me being the intrepid Non-Doomsday Prepper I am, armed only with a cookbook so ancient it was purchased for 25 cents (reduced from a dollar) using a coupon my great-great-grandmother clipped from the 1898 Hood’s Sarsaparilla Coupon Calendar (January), I decided to look into the matter and share my discoveries with you, my hungry readers.
You thought I was making the Hood’s Sarsaparilla Coupon Calendar up, didn’t you.
As it turned out, once my mind turned back towards the days of yore, I remembered I am very old, and actually LIVED during the days of yore.
Growing up in Greenacres, WA (I am not making that up, either) back when some of those acres were still green rather than covered up with soulless housing developments full of even more soulless California transplants, we had several dear elderly neighbors who would bring our family jars of jam every fall. They did not use metal lids on their jams, oh no. Nor were they official Ball or Kerr brand jars. Our neighbors brought us jars of jam that they’d put into repurposed jars that had once held mayonnaise or pickles, and then they topped it off with a layer of paraffin wax that they’d melted and then allowed to solidify. This paraffin formed a waxy covering on top of their jam that prevented beasties like mold and yeast from taking root. We would remove the paraffin and enjoy some really delicious jam and Big Jar, Inc. was none the wiser. So, paraffin seemed like the logical place to start.
Disclaimer – I am sharing this information for educational purposes only. No one do what I am describing in this essay. I am a terrible person who likes to live life on the edge by doing things millions of people did all the time in the past. In fact, you should probably burn your computer entirely after reading this article, and forget we ever met if you are interrogated by the thugs at Big Jar, Inc. I suggest having a false tooth full of botulism you can bite down on in the event you are captured.
My first question was this – can you repurpose jars you got from other foods for canning? Because even though I had enough jars, I know many people did not.
According to the Iowa State University’s Aug. 2020 article Safe Canning Amid Canning Supply Shortages, yes, you can, provided you are using the jars only for water bath canning and can get a two-pieced metal lid on it. (See, I didn’t even need to resort to an old cookbook to justify this one!) In the case of paraffin seals, since we won’t processing the jar in a water bath anyway, it’s even MORE possible to use repurposed jars.
Repurposed jars with paraffin seals means you’ll be in Jam City in no time. Better wear your galoshes!
As for reusing old lids, for OTHER THINGS like refrigerator pickles (which are made fresh, stored in the refrigerator and only kept a couple weeks), storing dry beans, grains, and various baking ingredients in Mason Jars, making cute little cookie or cake mixes to give as gifts, adorable children’s art projects, that kind of thing. Just use a Sharpie to put a little mark on the lid so you know it’s no good for canning any more. Personally, I don’t bother saving things like this, because I feel like saving up old stuff to reuse can take up room (both in my cupboards and in my brain) that I need to store more useful things, like 400,000 discarded library books. But even if you do save them, you cannot reuse metal lids for canning because it’s not acceptably safe to do so.
During my research I came across people using repurposed cans, like actual metal cans, and sealing them with paraffin wax. This does not seem adequately safe to me, first of all because metal jars have some nooks and crannies in them that glass jars lack. These nooks and crannies seem like botulism havens to me. Additionally, metal flexes a lot more than glass does; since we are trying to get a wax plug to stick to the sides of our container to seal it shut, it seems to me like less flexing would be better.
Second question – is paraffin safe? As you probably surmised, according to the USDA, paraffin is less safe than a 2-piece metal lid, particularly for very soft jams and preserves. (you’ll probably want to use commercial pectin to ensure your jam is on the jellier side rather than the syrupier side). Your paraffin-topped jam will not keep as long as jam processed in a water bath canner, and you need to be sure you have a cool and clean place in which to store your finished product – the cupboard atop the stove will probably not suffice. But let’s not quail in terror at these caveats. We’ll be taking some additional precautions to ensure that our paraffin-topped jam is as safe as we can make it, never fear.
Third question – Is paraffin messy? Sadly, yes, terribly messy, and jam making is a messy endeavor to start with. It’s also dangerous; you need to take some care to avoid lighting your house on fire while you melt the wax, over water in a double boiler and NOT over direct heat. Keep a fire extinguisher at the ready and do not ever leave your melting wax unattended. But all in all, the paraffining process was pretty easy and cleaned up easily with a generous application of boiling water and a scrubbie I was planning on throwing away anyway.
Plus, paraffin, unlike those pesky metal lids, is reusable; you can melt it again and again as needed to top year after year of jelly and if it starts to get dirty or gross, you can use it up by making fire starters instead by pouring the melted dirty gross wax into cardboard egg cups, using one wax-filled cup per fire. Even though I don’t recommend going to the trouble of making your own fire starters normally, if you have some dirty gross wax lying around, why waste it?
And all you did to reduce your carbon footprint today was drive a Prius.
I expect some of you are thinking that this sounds too complicated. What about reusable lids, like Tattler or Harvest Guard? Well, as of the time of this writing, they are not approved by the USDA for safe canning either. They are also expensive, and they too have been in short supply this year. So I figured, if I’m gonna do something that The Man considers dangerous anyway, I’m gonna go with the cheaper option.
Gather ye some jars (I would try to find jars with a wide mouth and straight sides, because it will make it a lot easier to remove the paraffin plug when we’re done) and a box of food grade paraffin which sounds like a specialty ingredient, but you can actually find at any grocery store.
It looks like this:
Inside these boxes you’ll find some cubes of paraffin. A little goes a long way. I didn’t even use a half-box for my batch of jam (and I probably put too much paraffin on, more about that later) But if you buy more than you need, that’s ok, it has lots of other uses.
But first, we need our jam. I decided to invent a special jam for the occasion.
America 2020 Jam (Black, Blue, and Bitter)
I meant to have this article done a lot sooner so I could use fresh fruit, but it’s 2020 FFS.
1 12 oz. package of frozen blackberries
1 12 oz. package of frozen blueberries
1 12 oz. sack of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries
1 box of commercial pectin
7-7 ½ c sugar (I used 8, but it was a little on the sweet side for me)
A teensy amount of butter (like ½ t, just a niblet) This keeps your jam from foaming up.
¼ c store bought lemon juice
(c is cup, t is teaspoon, T is tablespoon)
See the last ingredient there? The lemon juice is non-negotiable. Acidity is one area where we shall be sure to err on the side of caution since we are using paraffin to seal our jam. Yes, blackberries, cranberries, and even blueberries are quite acidic, but we are breaking some rules here, so we will keep to as many other rules as possible.
Also, be sure you have washed your jars thoroughly, and sanitized them in boiling water. I’m not gonna lie, I often skip the “sanitizing in boiling water” step when I make jam or pickles that I’m going to process in a boiling water bath canner anyway, but again, since we’re breaking some rules here, it’s best to stick to the other rules. Keep the jars in the boiling water to be sure they can’t regrow a huge crop of germs while you’re busy make your jam.
You will also want to have a ladle, a big long spoon (I prefer metal) a canning funnel if you have one, a jar lifter if you have one or tongs if you don’t (this is to get the hot jars out of the boiling water you are diligently sanitizing them in), a potato masher, and a fresh roll of paper towels handy. Plus, you’ll need a double boiler set up for melting your paraffin. It’s ok if you don’t have a real double boiler or don’t want to mess up a nice one; I used a glass Pyrex container with a lip for easy pouring, propped in my vegetable steamer for this. The water came up the sides of the Pyrex about halfway, but the vegetable steamer beneath ensured the Pyrex didn’t touch the bottom of the pan. I also used a heat tamer beneath my pan to make sure that my gas flame provided even heat with no hot spots just in case.
Measure your sugar into a separate bowl and set it aside. Put your fruit, pectin, and the niblet of butter into a stockpot with high sides (err on the side of larger because as the mixture boils it can erupt out the top of a too-small pan) and get ‘er heating up. If you have a spare heat tamer, you can use one for this too; while the jam takes longer to come to a boil, it’s less likely to burn. Since you’re using frozen fruit the mixture will take a while to heat up, and this will give you time to set up your double boiler for melting your paraffin if you haven’t already.
There are many approaches to take with melting the paraffin; I described mine above but just keep in mind that above all else, we DO NOT WANT the wax itself or the container holding the wax to touch the bottom of the pan where it will get very hot, nor do we want the temperature of the wax to rise high enough to ignite. You also do not want small children, your dog, and your hamster in its hamster ball underfoot when you’re working with the melted wax. Working with the paraffin was actually quite fun and far less scary than I am making it sound, so don’t be deterred. I’m sure we’re all in much more danger if we drove to the store to buy canning jar lids from the one-two punch of car accidents and The ‘Rona than we are from a little melted wax, but just be careful, that’s all.
It’s 2020, you have to watch your back at all times because God only knows what it still has planned.
Be sure to lay out a double thick row of paper towels on your counter near the stove. You will thank me for this later, because jam making can be messy.
By the time you’ve gotten all this done, your fruit should be heating up. You’ll want to mash the crap out of the berries with your potato masher. Don’t be alarmed if the cranberries don’t squish right away. Most of them will pop on their own once the temperature gets hot enough and the rest, you’ll be able to smoosh against the side of your pan with the big spoon. Plus a few individual berries are part of jam’s charm.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that doesn’t stop when you stir it, and by the time this rolling boil has occurred you’ll likely find that your berries, even those of the stubborn Cran clan, will have conglomerated into a jamlike purple goo. Set your potato masher aside, grab your great big spoon, and dump in the sugar you’d set aside. Stirring CONSTANTLY, bring it back to a boil, let it boil for 4 minutes and then take it off the heat. It should look a lot like jam by now, and will taste exactly like jam, only don’t taste it yet because you will burn your tongue.
Oh yeah, and while you do all this you need to be keeping an eye on your paraffin. If it melts all the way, then turn off the heat and the hot water should keep it liquid while you finish your jam.
Once your jam is done, using your canning jar lifter or tongs remove one of your jars from its boiling water bath and put it on your paper towel. It should evaporate dry within a matter of seconds. Put your canning funnel into the now-dry jar and ladle your jam about ½ inch from the top, keeping in mind you’re going to need room for some paraffin on top. You will undoubtedly still spill some jam, which is why we put down the paper towels first. Repeat this for all your jars till your jam is used up. If you have some left over, just put it in the fridge and eat it up first.
Then, use a wet, CLEAN paper towel and wipe off the edges of your jars WELL. You may need to use up several wet paper towels to ensure you get the edges of the jars completely clean; again, this is a step I took far more seriously this time than I do when I use two piece lids. The wax is going to need to stick to the glass as thoroughly as possible so we don’t want a bunch of sticky stuff clinging to the sides of your jar, issuing an invitation for mold and yeast to pay a visit.
Wait about five minutes for the jam to cool on top. DO NOT wait longer than that. You want the jam to still be very very hot so the paraffin will effectively seal the jar shut, it’s just that you don’t want your jam to still be pure syrup on top. This brief cooling period is probably unnecessary because the density of the wax is different than that of the jam, ensuring it stays on top. But it’s just the way I did it this time; I will probably skip this step if I use paraffin again.
Now, carefully remove your container of melted paraffin from your boiling water. You’ll probably want an oven mitt for this. It should be completely melted; if there’s still a lump left in the bottom, wait till it’s fully melted because you don’t want to take the chance of the lump dropping out as you pour and splashing hot wax everywhere.
There are two schools of thought on applying the paraffin. I’ll share them both with you and let you decide which one makes more sense. The first school of thought (from the Farm Journal Freezing and Canning cookbook, copyright 1963) suggested pouring just ONE layer of paraffin about ⅛ of an inch thick. The logic was that too thick a layer of wax might end up inflexible and might shift in the jar, allowing bacteria to get through. This made some sense to me, but for whatever reason my brain thought MOAR WAX = SAFE so I used the second school of thought’s recommendation. I poured in a layer of wax about ⅛ of an inch thick, let it cool till it was visible but not fully set, then poured in another layer of wax ⅛ of an inch thick. I should have left it there, as I think that would have made a very nice, finished product.
But I didn’t leave it there. Because I had some wax left over, a raging case of botulism paranoia (even though my jam was highly acidic), and a pathological hatred of wasting things, I poured the rest of the wax on top and ended up with plugs of wax that were more like ½ inch thick or even a little more. Then, when I tried to get the wax out of the jar, it wouldn’t come. Luckily, my husband had the brilliant idea of removing it with a corkscrew which worked perfectly. But just so you know, there is, apparently, such a thing as too much wax. Keep it to ¼ inch or so, whether you put it in in 2 layers or in one. And if your wax disc gets stuck, have a corkscrew handy.
Now, our final concession to safety. I put my batch of wax-topped jam into my fridge. I figured that it was probably a pretty good compromise; on the one hand, I certainly have homemade jam in my possession, jam which is sealed against spilling and spoiling (ugh, that fridge taste) much better than say, an unsealed jar with a piece of plastic wrap on top, and on the other hand, it’s stored safely at a temperature that doesn’t support the growth of microbes. The jars didn’t take up much room and the amount of jam the one batch made (5 pint jars) is the amount of jam my jam loving family will eat in a couple months anyway. It occurs to me that a person could keep themselves in jam all year round this way; by using frozen fruit (either store bought or your own garden fruit) and making one batch of jam at a time, sealing it with paraffin, and storing it in the fridge where the angel of botulism fears to tread.
But according to my research, this is probably overkill. The truth is, people have been storing paraffin-topped jam at room temperature for short term storage for a long time. While my modern sensibilities tell me this is gross, it occurs to me that both my husband’s family and my best friend growing up’s family kept most of their condiments including jam at room temperature, because things like ketchup, mustard, and grape jelly are just not that conducive to bacterial growth to start with due to their acidity.
As horrifying as I once found that behavior (and I still don’t do it personally) it occurs to me that I certainly keep things like vinegar, vanilla extract, peanut butter, and pancake syrup at room temperature and never thought anything of it until just this very moment. An important strategy of late stage capitalists is causing people to fear things that are actually perfectly safe if you have half a brain and, ya know, don’t eat things that look moldy or smell rancid, so they can buy the products the late stage capitalists are selling. Screw those greedy bastards! If you ever find yourself in a refrigerator-less survival situation and need to lay in some supplies, it sounds as if some paraffin-topped jam might be an excellent solution to the pressing problem of what to eat on your toast.
For the rest of us who have the luxury to err on the side of safety, paraffin-topped jam stored in the fridge is a nice way to treat yourself to homemade jam even though you couldn’t find any ^*&)#&*$* canning jar lids this year. And if you cut a little square or circle of pretty fabric with pinking shears, and wrap a ribbon around the top of the jar holding that pretty fabric in place, it could even be a very nice gift since that time of year approacheth.
Just keep it in the fridge till it’s time to open presents.
If your refrigerator is running, first of all, go out and catch it, and then sit back down and read about another type of jam you can make without needing to worry about bacteria at all.
If you have the ability to go to all the trouble of making jam, topping it with paraffin, and keeping it in the fridge, you may as well go one better and make some freezer jam.
Some of you may recall that up until very recently I didn’t have a freezer AT ALL, not even one of those little ones on top of the fridge. This was because we moved to the country where we have solar power. Freezers suck down a lot of energy, and the ones that don’t are crazy expensive. But 2020 reminded my husband and I of our mutual commitment to preparedness as a way of life, and we decided to spend some of our stimulus check on a freezer. Though we found freezers were non-existent all across America thanks to the pandemic, we managed to get very lucky and find a small Amish company making freezers that were more energy efficient than standard freezers, and miracle of miracles, they were in stock (though still crazy expensive). Our freezer was delivered about two days before our house nearly burned down, but fortunately it survived the experience along with the rest of us.
In the midst of the Great Canning Jar Lid Deficit of 2020, I was at the grocery store and I noticed that while they were out of damn near everything involved in canning, they still had several boxes of a product they were calling “Freezer Pectin”, which is meant for making freezer jam, an uncooked jam that (you guessed it!) is stored in the freezer. Now, to be honest I had made peach freezer jam once in the past and didn’t much care for it, and never bothered with it again.
But since I didn’t seem to have any options other than being in endless thrall to the Smuckers Corporation, I decided to play around with the idea. I bought a couple packages of the freezer pectin, some unbelievably cheap Tupperware type containers (helpful hint – don’t use the same Tupperware you store lasagna in for your freezer jam. Buy some new containers that don’t reek like garlic and oregano) and some frozen fruit that was on sale. Other than the peach, which interestingly still was not so good, it turned out great. I made strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, and mixed berry (raspberries were not on sale) and every one of them was delish.
The freezer jam has a fresher fruit taste than cooked jam, so much so that it was darn near an entirely different thing entirely with its own unique flavor profile. It also retained a lot more color than cooked jam, making freezer jam a nice option for a holiday table. I still think I prefer cooked jam as it has a more substantial mouth feel, but freezer jam really is quite nice (try strawberry freezer jam on hot biscuits, it’s divine).
Additionally, freezer jam is fast, easy to clean up, doesn’t take much electricity or heat up your kitchen to make (in late August when we’re all making our jams usually, this matters) and even a child can follow the recipe – my daughter is eight and she made the blueberry batch all by herself. And if you’ve got limited shelf space but a lot of freezer space (words cannot express how happy I am to count myself in this category now), in terms of your Non-Doomsday Prepping program, it may make sense for you to reserve your precious shelf space for sacks of beans, jars of pickles, cans of tuna, and Bisquik, and keep your jam in the freezer. Jam will stay good for a whole year frozen. Best of all you can jamify fruits that are not safe to can, like bananas Bananas Foster Freezer Jam – Wooden Spoon Baking (this article has a great explanation of why you cannot can bananas) and pumpkins Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter – Graceful Little Honey Bee.
The downside of freezer jam is that in most cases you must use commercial pectin, but since most of us use commercial pectin anyway with our cooked jam, that’s really not much of a difference there. Please note, that the “freezer pectin” seems to be a bit of a marketing gimmick; you can, and in fact most DO, just use regular pectin. On the plus side, with freezer jam (apples, pears, banana, and stone fruits like peaches will still need lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to prevent browning, but it’s not a prerequisite for lowering pH) you don’t need to use bottled lemon juice or citric acid because there is NO way botulism can grow in a freezer , nor is freezer jam airtight anyway. If you’re out of lemon juice or have botulism phobia, freezer jam is the way to go.
I didn’t create a special recipe for the freezer jam. Not only is freezer jam so easy and ubiquitous you don’t need me to write directions for you (unlike the paraffin directions which weren’t abundant in great quantity, there are gobs of freezer jam tutorials online), the directions are included on the container of the pectin, which you’ll need to buy to make freezer jam anyway. You can find a recipe for freezer jam on containers of freezer pectin OR on boxes of regular pectin. (like I said, my research revealed that what was being sold as “freezer pectin” is probably just regular pectin, only quicker dissolving, and most freezer jam recipes call for regular pectin anyway!)
Additionally, in the course of my research I found some recipes for freezer jelly made with fruit juice. The following recipe is for orange jelly, but I saw variations for grape, cherry, pomegranate and grapefruit, and I’m envisioning margarita freezer jelly made with Bacardi Mixers. (mentally insert gif of Homer Simpson drooling if you’d be so kind) SURE.JELL Freezer Orange Juice Jelly – My Food and Family
Unlike freezer jam, freezer jelly must be heated on the stove, but it’s still much easier overall than the process for making cooked jelly.
If you make freezer jam or jelly, do be aware that unlike other types of jams and jellies that can be kept open at room temp for days, even weeks (but for the love of God don’t dip that buttery crumb covered knife in there!) freezer jam, due to its fresh nature, must be kept cold. After you thaw your freezer jam, it needs to be kept in your fridge while you eat it up, and I would not dawdle in doing so. The pectin people suggested 3 weeks at the longest. While jam, freezer or otherwise, never lasts long enough in my house to spoil, I could imagine if one left it for a month, even refrigerated, it probably wouldn’t taste as good as it should.
So there you have it – a couple solutions to 2020’s canning supply shortage that may actually help provide you with strategies to help your prepping program in the future too! We CAN survive, even thrive, at least in the jam department, without canning jars and lids!
Stay tuned for more Non-Doomsday Prepping articles! You can read the complete series starting here: Non-Doomsday Prepping Part 1: The Case for Being Prepared – Ordinary Times (ordinary-times.com)