During the summer months, when produce is at its peak, I love putting up preserves. I have no fear of canning, but know plenty who do – so many friends are so intimidated by the thought of processing jars, that they don’t do it at all. Which is a shame, when berries, rhubarb, plums, peaches, tomatoes and all manner of juicy, flavourful fruit is at its summer best. Fortunately, freezing is a perfect, pressure-free way to store preserves – anything from tomato sauce to strawberry compote – to keep you in seasonal jams and sauces even in the bleak midwinter.
Freezer jams and preserves couldn’t be simpler – simply follow your favourite recipe, or mash and simmer fruit with sugar until it thickens into jam. (If it doesn’t, you have a wonderful fruit sauce or syrup to serve over cake, pancakes or waffles!)
Cool your jam, chutney or sauce completely before freezing, and pour into a Hefty Slider Bag; its slider top makes it easy to keep open as you fill them. Because preserves have already been cooked down, they’re perfect candidates for freezing – they won’t break down further, and their liquid will protect them from freezer burn.
Flatten and slide into the freezer; once solid, flat bags will be easy to stack, and take up minimal freezer space. Label and date; you can store them for up to a year.
To thaw, leave at room temperature or transfer to the fridge for a day; jam’s high sugar content will prevent it from freezing solid, so it will be quick to thaw, too. If you want just a small quantity, a flat frozen bag will make it easy to break off a chunk, then thaw in a small dish for the freshest jam to accompany your morning toast or scones. If you want to thaw a whole bag, pour it into a jar to store in the fridge for up to two weeks (for jam, less for sauces and low-sugar preserves).
Looking for some freezer inspiration? Here are a few great sauces and preserves to try!