This Christmas jam recipe combines tart cranberries, sweet strawberries and herby rosemary, to make a wonderful seasonal treat. And because it’s stored in the freezer, it’s a much simpler process than traditional jam making.
Homemade jam makes the perfect hostess gift and is one of those homemade gifts that is truly made with love. I’ve been making freezer jam for the last year, and I love how simple of a process it is, and so much less intimidating than using traditional canning techniques. I also love how customizable it is. You can swap out different kinds of berries and use holiday spices like ground cloves and cinnamon instead of the rosemary. It tastes wonderful topped on baked brie, alongside sugared cranberries.
Why this recipe works
- Quick and easy! Freezer jam takes the intimidation out of traditional canning because there’s no need for hot water baths. Safety concerns arise out of traditional jam making because you must make it shelf-stable for storing. Freezer jam is stored in the freezer and can therefore be made quickly, without the need of high pressure or water bath finishing methods.
- Delicious and fresh! Unique flavors combine with fresh fruit to make a really beautiful looking and delicious tasting jam that you will love gifting.
- Healthyish! Free of artificial flavors, color and preservatives, this homemade jam is also loaded with rich antioxidants and nutrients thanks to the strawberries and cranberries.
- Fresh cranberries – feel free to also use frozen, but since fresh is so plentiful and inexpensive during the holidays, I suggest using fresh.
- Fresh strawberries – you can use frozen fruit if your local store doesn’t have a good selection of fresh, just make sure to first thaw them.
- Sugar – homemade jam requires sugar, lots of it! Sugar acts as a powerful preservative in the canning process, and while you can safely use less sugar, it may compromise the jam’s ability to set up. This is a pretty thorough explanation of the role sugar plays in making jam.
- Orange juice and zest – the orange juice and zest helps cut down on the tartness of the cranberries and also gives it a lovely flavor.
- Powdered or liquid pectin – I used Sure Jell powdered pectin but you can also use liquid pectin if that’s all you have. They go in at different times of the jam making process though, so read the recipe notes for details about using liquid pectin.
- Fresh rosemary – most holiday jams call for cinnamon and cloves, but I wanted to switch it up and infuse this jam with the earthy, herby flavor of fresh rosemary. Do not use dried rosemary, as it would be too difficult to extract from the jam.
Step-by- step instructions
Traditional freezer jam typically does not require cooking fruit, one of the reasons it is so convenient and wonderful! But because we’re making a strawberry cranberry jam, we will need to cook the cranberries for a bit.
Begin by preparing the strawberries. Remove the stems and add them to a medium sized bowl. and crush them with a potato masher. If your berries aren’t super ripe, you can add 1 tablespoon of sugar to help release the juices a bit. Strain off the excess liquid by pushing through a fine mesh strainer, and set aside.
Next, prepare the cranberries. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven set to high heat, add 4 cups of sugar, 1 cup of orange juice (you can add water to the squeezed juice to make 1 cup), orange zest and the powdered pectin. Whisk well to combine and bring to a gentle boil, then add the cranberries and rosemary sprigs.
Bring the cranberries to a full rolling boil and cook for about 5-7 minutes, and with a wooden spoon, smash some of the cranberries as they cook. This will create a nice mix of whole and crushed fruit, yielding a slightly chunky jam texture.
Pull cranberries off the heat and carefully fetch out the rosemary sprigs. Add the crushed strawberries and stir to combine.
Immediately fill clean jars with the jam, leaving ½″ space at the top. Wipe jars clean and place lids on jars. Allow to come to room temperature for 24 hours, and then store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a year!
A hot water bath helps preserve homemade jams safely so they can be stored safely on the shelf. Because you store freezer jam in the freezer, no need to make the shelf-stable.
I have safely used 1 less cup of sugar with the same volume of fruit in other jams, and it works fine. When using fresh fruit with high acid content, and also storing in the freezer, the sugar as a preservative becomes less of a safety concern. However because cranberries are so tart, I recommend using all 4 cups or else it might affect the sweetness of the jam.
You can use whichever you have on hand, you just add the pectin at different times of the canning process. The difference in usage is that instead of adding the pectin at the end of cooking like you do with liquid, you whisk the powdered pectin into the sugar before you combine it with the fruit.
Freezer jam will often set up as it sits over the next day, so don’t be too concerned. Because we’re using fresh fruit, I have noticed that the consistency can vary a bit depending on the water content of the fruit, As long as the jam is not liquidy, it will still taste delicious!
Other helpful tips
Wrap each jar with a bit of ribbon and attach gift label or create your own custom Christmas jam labels and gift throughout the holiday season. Just make sure to include instructions for safely storing.
Cranberry Rosemary Christmas Jam (Freezer Jam)
- ½ pint Mason jars
- 1 package Cranberries
- 2 cups Strawberries
- 4 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Fresh squeezed orange juice can add water to orange juice to make a full cup
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2-3 Rosemary sprigs
- 1 box Sure-jell powdered pectin can use liquid see recipe notes
- Remove the stems from the strawberries, add them to a medium sized bowl. and crush them with a potato masher. If your berries aren't super ripe, you can add 1 tablespoon of sugar to help release the juices a bit. Strain off the excess liquid by pushing through a fine mesh strainer, and set aside.
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven set to high heat, add 4 cups of sugar, 1 cup of orange juice, orange zest and the powdered pectin. Whisk well to combine and bring to a gentle boil, then add the cranberries and rosemary sprigs.
- Bring the cranberries to a full rolling boil and cook for about 5-7 minutes, and with a wooden spoon, smash some of the cranberries as they cook.
- Pull cranberries off the heat and carefully fetch out the rosemary sprigs. Add the crushed strawberries and stir to combine.
- Immediately fill clean jars with the jam, leaving ½" space at the top. Wipe jars clean and place lids on jars. Allow to come to room temperature for 24 hours, and then store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a year!