Last winter’s severe cold, a spring drought, and a relatively dry summer led to a massive backyard outpouring of Meyer lemons. My single improved Meyer lemon tree has yielded more than five bushels of fruit, and I’m not done picking yet: the ambitious tree bloomed twice last year, so I have a smaller, secondary crop that won’t ripen until late February.
This crazy lemon largesse has me scrambling to use it all: I’m now adding lemon zest to practically everything, sweet or savory, in my kitchen. I have a freezer full of squeezed lemon juice, I’ve given away lemons to neighbors and coworkers, and I’m beginning to consider a lemon road-block in the street outside my house: no car will make it through unless the driver takes a bag of lemons!
The time-honored way to address a large harvest, is, of course, by preserving. Jams, jellies, chutney, conserves, relishes: every one was born out of a pile of fruit threatening to decompose. Lemon jam is a lovely thing, but I have been in no mood to spend several hours engaged in the tedious chore of jam-making.
Enter the new(ish) instant pectin, allowing the lazy cook (me) to make fruit jams without cooking. Ball’s “RealFruit” instant pectin powder will gel fresh fruits, along with a minimum of sugar. Pectin powder, sugar, and fruit/juices stirred together for three minutes yields a soft-set jam, ready to eat in 30 minutes. The jam must be stored in the freezer (up to 1 year) or refrigerated (up to 3 weeks).
Aside from convenience, freezer jam retains the fruit’s fresh, lively qualities, thanks in part to dramatically reduced sugar quantities and the absence of heat. Lemon freezer jam reminds me of lemonade–it’s not a pale, cooked, faint reminder of lemon, but a full-on, tart, nuanced lemony blast.
Meyer Lemon, Louisiana Strawberry, and Fresh Ginger Freezer Jam
- zest of two Meyer lemons, finely grated
- 2 cups Louisiana strawberries, sliced (frozen is fine)
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (use a Microplane or similar fine grater)
- 1-1/3 cups Meyer lemon juice
- 1-1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons powdered instant pectin (“RealFruit” brand by Ball)
- 5 8-oz freezer-safe containers and lids
Add fruit & juice to the pectin powder, stirring to dissolve. Stir continuously for three minutes. Fill freezer-safe containers and label. Rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then transfer to freezer for long-term storage. After opening, store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
Note: check store shelves near the canning supplies for tall, slender 1-cup freezer jam containers, pictured at left. The wide-mouth containers are easy to fill, the screw cap won’t pop off in the freezer, and the shape fits nicely in the refrigerator door’s condiments shelf.