Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

frozen apricots - Food in Jars

It is mid-winter, which means that the pickings are quite slim for canners in search of fresh fruit to turn into jams and fruit butters. However, if you’ve got a preserving itch that must be scratched, take heart and turn to the freezer.

frozen apricots top - Food in Jars

Whether you’re using fruit you yourself tucked into the deep freeze or you’ve decided to rely on that which you can find in the cases at the grocery store, it’s possible to coax satisfying spreads out of previously as long as you remember a couple of things.

frozen apricots sugared - Food in Jars

First and most important, don’t defrost your fruit prior to combining it with the sugar. I’ve made jam from a wide array of frozen fruit in my time, and I’ve learned that my results are always better if I liberally dust the fruit with sugar while it’s still frozen.

The sugar draws away some of the water in the fruit, which helps it hold its shape better, while also providing some protection against browning. This is especially helpful in the case of light-colored fruit like apricots and peaches, which will turn grey and squishy if left to defrost on their own.

defrosting apricots - Food in Jars

The second tip for success when using frozen fruit in preserving is to use weight as your measurement tool. Because you’re going to sugar the fruit before it has defrosted, volume measurements for the fruit won’t be accurate. By using weight as your guiding measurement, you’ll be able to keep the proportions of fruit to sugar steady and set yourself up for success.

finished jam - Food in Jars

For those of you who made plenty of jam back in the summer and question why one would want to make jam from frozen fruit, I have four words for you. Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam.

This season bending preserve isn’t possible to make on the east coast without the aid of a freezer, but it is good enough that I try to stash four pounds of apricots in my freezer drawer each summer, so that I’m able to make it when Meyer lemons are in season. Oh, and if you can’t wait another year for this one, try freezing some Meyer lemon juice and zest right now, to save for apricot season.

Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

Yield: Makes 7-8 half pints

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds apricots, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/3 pounds granulated sugar
  • 3 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced

Instructions

  1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 8 half pint jars.
  2. Combine chopped apricots with sugar and let sit until sugar dissolves. If you're using frozen apricots, make sure to add the sugar while the apricots are still frozen, and let them sit until mostly defrosted.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved, set the pan on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook, stirring regularly for 15 to 25 minutes, until the fruit thickens and reduces by at least one-third. Frozen fruit tends to break down fairly readily on its own, but if the chunks are really big, use a potato masher to help break them down.
  5. Add the Meyer lemon juice and zest.
  6. When the jam seems quite thick and glossy, remove it from the heat.
  7. Funnel the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  8. When time is up, remove jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
  9. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Sealed jars are shelf stable for at least one year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
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20 Responses to Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

  1. 1
    Jo-Ann says:

    You mention using weight as the measurement of frozen fruit. I’d love to use weight, but can’t find a table that shows the weight of various fruits. So many fruits get softer after freezing that I’m not sure how to measure them. For example, a cup of frozen chopped strawberries defrost to a smaller amount than 1 cup. If I knew the weight of a cup of fresh chopped strawberries, should I use that? Does 1 cup of defrosted strawberries, by weight, equal 1 cup of fresh strawberries? Maybe I should start my own chart – purchase some fresh strawberries, chop them & weigh them.

    What are your thoughts?

    • 1.1
      Marisa says:

      It doesn’t really matter how much they weighed when fresh. Just weigh them frozen and use that as a starting point. That’s the whole point of this post. Weigh the fruit frozen and then use half or as third as much sugar.

  2. 2
    Pete says:

    I find it easier to measure the volume of product prior to freezing and marking the bag. When processing lots of stuff, then I package it in proper recipe amounts. When freezing smaller amounts the odds and ends can be combined later or slight adjustments made to accommodate the actual amounts. It also helps to cut the fruit, or whatever, directly into a measuring cup then pour into the freezer container.

  3. 3
    Sue S. says:

    I find that I’m making less jam in the summer – I prep it and put it in the freezer instead. I always measure and mark the bags with the amounts before freezing. For fruits like apricots and peaches, I pre-chop and add some lemon juice and sugar before freezing – again, marking the amount of fruit and any additions to the bag.

    This way I make the things that need to be canned immediately (pickles, salsas, halved peaches etc.) in the summer and still have fun things to can throughout the rest of the year, especially when my kitchen isn’t roasting hot.

  4. 4
    Katie C. says:

    I have frozen strawberries that I would like to use. Should I use the same amount of sugar?

  5. 5
    Julie says:

    I hadn’t thought of “crossing seasons” in jams. Wish you’d posted this when persimmons were around. Persimmon/cherry would be awesome, but they’re exactly 6 months apart. I’ll have to pit and freeze some cherries in July to do this next December.

  6. 6
    efrompdx says:

    I’ll agree with the other commenters about measuring and marking the freezer bag when you put it away in the summer. I made some sour cherry jam a couple of months ago and have one more bag to go. Still have some plums frozen too!

    One other comment about this method is that, at least where I live, the weather will affect the cooking time of the jam. The high humidity of the PNW makes for a long evaporation period.

  7. 7
    judith says:

    Have a tree of meyers lemons. The will be sqeezed zested and frozen for use during the year. The preserves sound lovely. This year i did not find a good apricot. Some fruits just do not travel well to the south and apricots are one of them. They are one of my favorites.

  8. 8
    Sue says:

    I think this would be a great combination for jam. Hope I remember to freeze some apricots next season.

  9. 9
    Liz says:

    I was in Trader Joe’s yesterday and saw a new-to-me product – Partially Dried Apricots in the freezer section. Apparently they are partially dried and then frozen, and are supposed to have the taste/texture of near-fresh fruit when defrosted. Might have to go back and grab some to try this jam, it sounds amazing.

  10. 10
    Bonnie says:

    Marisa, would frozen peaches be an acceptable substitute for the apricots? I have no access to apricots other than dried, but can buy frozen peaches. if you don’t think that sounds like a good combination, is there another commonly available berry or fruit that you would recommend?

  11. 11
    Belinda Sikes says:

    I have frozen nectarines from a friend’s tree. I’m guessing this might work for this recipe? I made a ton of nectarine jam last summer and still have lots of frozen nectarines.

  12. 12
    Ken says:

    I have a problem with raspberry jam. I usually end up with 5 to 8 bags of berries depending on how much time I have to pick. I usually get a chance to jam in the fall and winter. The past 5 or 6 batches haven’t set. Only if I go and try to re do the jam with added sugar pectin and lemon juice. What is an ideal weight of frozen Raspberries to use? I have used powder and liquid pectin.

    • 12.1
      Marisa says:

      If you’re using Sure-Jell or Certo liquid problem, I can almost guarantee that that’s the source of your problem. They reformulated a few years back and the current product is terrible. Try using the Ball brand liquid pectin and see if that solves your problem.

      • Ken says:

        I usually went with the Sure Jell powdered pectin. And then the Ball Liquid when I tried to save the Jam. I made two batches last night. One with the powder and one with the Ball liquid. Only one of them set….

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