Monday, October 3, 2011

Freezer Jam with Ultra Gel - take 2

This has been a very popular post. I am re-posting it with some additional notes at the bottom about using alternate sweeteners. I hope all of you that have tried this jam are thoroughly enjoying it as much as we do.

Freezer jam is my ultimate favorite. I always make a little cooked jam every year just in case, but my family prefers the fresh flavor of the freezer jam hands-down! Using pectin requires loads of sugar and is quite costly per batch. Years ago, my mom learned about another amazing thickener. It is sold under a few names - Ultra Gel, Ultra Sperse, and Ultra Maxi-gel. They are all the same product. It is an instant thickener made from corn which means any of you needing to avoid gluten will learn to love this stuff. It holds up very well in canning and also in the freezer. I use it in many recipes. For freezer jam, it costs about $.50 a batch where pectin is usually over $2.00 so it is quite a significant savings. 

It is not available everywhere. You may need to search the internet for a source near you or just order some from an on-line retailer. Ultra Gel is sold at We have a local preparedness store called Food 2 Store that carries it in the #10 cans. I always keep a couple on hand. I use it in all my jam and syrup making. I also thicken spaghetti sauce with it and anything else that is just a little too runny. Because it is an instant thickener, you can just add it to whatever you are making a little at a time. Mix it and then wait just a bit to see if it is as thick as you like. I also use it in many freezer meals I make to replace the cornstarch or flour that just don't hold up as well once frozen. 

Anyway, on to making freezer jam - 

My husband was so sweet to wash and prepare all the strawberries while I was at the dentist last week. After we put the kids to bed, he also helped me get 3 batches of jam completed. The food processor really helps to get the strawberries chopped quickly. You can use a potato masher. I have found it is much easier if you cut the strawberries into smaller pieces first. The kids love to help with the mashing!

Here is my can of Ultra Sperse.

My recipe calls for applesauce. We mix this with all the fruit we do. It stretches your fruit or berries and takes on the flavor of whatever else you put it with so no one ever knows it's in there. Sometimes I stir in more applesauce than the recipe calls for. I always just taste it to make sure it still tastes like the fruit I want. You really can stretch your berries with quite a bit of applesauce.

Mix the ultra sperse with the sugar to make it easier to mix in. Without mixing it with the sugar, the ultra sperse will clump very quickly so you have to mix it in veeeerrrrrry gradually. By mixing it with the sugar, you can dump more in at once and not have it clump together.

Package the jam in reusable cottage cheese or sour cream containers. Label and freeze. It keeps for 1-2 years in the freezer. There you go, in less than 30 minutes we had 3 batches finished!

Note: Since posting this recipe, I have received many questions about alternate sweeteners. Really, you can sweeten this with just about anything. I have used splenda, honey, and white grape juice concentrate. I'm sure agave nectar would work great as well. You could use a mix of sweeteners or just a single one. Just sweeten your fruit mixture to taste and then thicken with the Ultra Gel. It is about as fool proof as you can get! 

I call this freezer jam, but I use it as topping for banana splits, filling for turnovers, topping for cheesecake, and flavoring for plain yogurt. We also love it on PBJ sandwiches and toast! I'm sure you'll find other great uses for it too.

4 cups mashed fruit
2+ cups of sugar depending on tartness
1 cup applesauce
of fruit
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup Ultra Gel* (add more if you like it
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle the Ultra Gel in gradually to avoid lumps. Pour into freezer safe containers and freeze.
 I love this recipe because it works with every kind of fruit or berry. The applesauce takes on the flavor of the other fruit and allows you to stretch your berries or more expensive fruit. You really just need 5 cups of fruit so if you have 4 ½ cups of berries, add ½ cup of applesauce, etc. This is a recipe my mom got years ago and our family has used it every year since. I make strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, peach and apricot freezer jams every year. The apricots I put in the blender, the strawberries I put in the food processor, all the other fruit I mash with a potato masher. This jam never needs to be cooked so it retains its fresh fruit flavor. You can also use frozen berries if you'd like. I save my sour cream and cottage cheese containers to freeze my jam in. They really work well. One note of caution, because this jam has far less sugar than many recipes it will spoil faster once it is thawed out. Knowing this, choose containers the appropriate size for your family so that it can be eaten in a week or two once it is thawed out. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment