To go along with this week’s 2021 Preparedness Challenge to store canned fruit, I decided to make some strawberry freezer jam. Everyone in my family agrees that strawberry freezer jam is better than cooked jam and tastes most like fresh strawberries. If you have never made strawberry freezer jam, you are in for a treat. It is SO easy to make. I recommend that you use packaged pectin. But which brand of pectin is the best to use?
This week I experimented with different brands of pectin. I made three batches of strawberry freezer jam using three different pectin brands: MCP, Certo, and Sure-Jell. (By the way, although at one time they were three separate brands, they now are all part of the Sure-Jell brand label.)
Here is a rundown of my experience and the comparison of pectin in the three batches of strawberry jam.
Strawberry Jam Made with MCP Pectin
The MCP Pectin recipe called for three and a fourth cups of crushed strawberries, a fourth cup of fresh lemon juice, and four and a half cups of sugar. Neither the fruit nor the pectin is cooked, so it has a nice, fresh, strawberry taste. It made the biggest amount of jam and had a higher ratio of fruit to sugar than the other two pectin brands. The pectin tends to clump, so the trickiest part was making sure that the pectin was fully dissolved. It made six and three-quarter cups of jam.
Strawberry Jam Made with Certo Pectin
The recipe sing Certo uses two cups of crushed strawberries, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and four cups of sugar plus one pouch of liquid Certo Pectin. (A box of Certo Pectin contains two pouches of pectin.) Like the MCP recipe, it doesn’t require any cooking. The recipe calls for mixing the strawberries and sugar and letting it stand for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. I let it stand longer and stirred it more frequently to help dissolve the sugar. Next I stirred one pouch of Certo with the lemon juice and then stirred that mixture into the strawberries. The directions say to and continued stirring until the sugar was dissolved. It made five cups of jam.
Strawberry Jam Made with Sure-Jell Pectin
For the Sure-Jell recipe I used two cups of crushed strawberries—no lemon juice—and four cups of sugar. Like the Certo recipe, it calls for stirring the mixture to dissolve the sugar and takes longer than the recipe suggests. Next the recipe calls for stirring the pectin into three-fourths cup of water, boiling it for one minute, and adding it to the strawberry mixture and stirring for three minutes to dissolve the sugar. I found that it requires more than three minutes of stirring for the sugar to dissolve. It made about five and a quarter cups of jam.
Tips for Using Packaged Pectin to Make Strawberry Freezer Jam
1. Use fresh, high quality fruit. I used strawberries from our garden. I discard any fruit that I wouldn’t want to eat. I get rid of any bruised or overripe berries and cut away any place where insects or slugs have taken a bite.
2. Crush berries using a potato masher or firm pastry blender. I don’t recommend a food processor or blender because they whip too much air into the fruit which causes the fruit to float to the top of the jars.
2. Follow measurements meticulously. The package directions warn about this and it is important.
3. Make sure that sugar and pectin are dissolved as completely as possible. It may take more stirring and a bit more time than the recipe states.
4. Keep the spoons you stir with clean—no tasting and reusing the spoon.
5. Be sure the pectin is not past its best-if-used-by date.
Which Brand of Pectin is Best for Making Strawberry Freezer Jam?
Based on my experiments with the three national brands, I found that MCP had a slight edge over Certo and Sure-Jell. I like it best because it was slightly less complicated to make, has a larger proportion of fruit to sugar, and made a slightly bigger batch of jam. In the past I have had some issues with freezer jam not setting up, but this time all three brands successfully set up. I attribute that to carefully measuring and completely dissolving the sugar and pectin.