Peach Freezer Jam (and review of Ball Instant Pectin)

Last year’s peach freezer jam was delicious–full of summery peach flavor, not too runny, and very sweet.

This year’s peach freezer jam was a failure, due partly to Walmart and partly to Ball Canning, I think. It’s turning brown, is barely sweet, and did not gel one bit.

I was at Walmart to buy pectin. I prefer the Classic Pectin, even for freezer jam. I’m weird like that. But they didn’t have any on the shelf. Grrr.

So I bought instant pectin, made specifically for freezer jam. In reading the directions, I was really confused, because it called for about 1 1/2 cups fruit and only 2/3 cup sugar. The recipe I used from Ball’s old Classic Pectin last year called for more sugar than fruit. I thought, “There’s no way this is going to work.” But assuming that Ball was the kind of company who wouldn’t sell a product they hadn’t tested with good results, I went on.

I followed the directions as exactly as I know how, and we have peach syrup that is slightly sweeter than a peach would be. It’s fine, but it’s not delicious.

I tried looking up online whether or not others had the same problem, and I found a whole forum where almost every person said the instant pectin didn’t work for them.

Hello, Ball Canning?

I’ve already written them once, complaining about the size of their “flex batch” bottles–there’s not an even number of batches of pectin in there if you’re using their old recipe (which I love). They wrote me back a canned email, with one sentence (in a different font) that pertained to my complaint.

Not impressed, y’all.

Last year, Ball Pectin was a great product. This year? Pretty sure they’ve shot themselves in the foot, at least for me. I’ll be going with Pomona Pectin next time our buying club orders it.

To salvage this jam, I’ll remake each jar as we open it by boiling a little pectin, adding more sugar, and stirring in the pectin. If it works, I’ll share the method.

Have any of you used Pomona Pectin? I’ve heard good things about it, but have no experience with it.

44 comments to Peach Freezer Jam (and review of Ball Instant Pectin)

  • Eve

    Hello, I just made Balls instant pectin peach freezer jam and had the same results as you, which is why
    I am on this site to see if anyone else had the same results. Not impressed and very disappointed as I spent a lot time and effort to make it.

    • Eve, you may want to check out the comment that Irene just left. She had some interesting info from talking with pectin companies. :)

    • Sharon

      Well, add me to the list of Ball freezer peach failures! On sale at KMart, now I know why! Am doing a test on the one cup method to “Redo” with liquid Certo. Have to wait 24 hours I guess to see if my peach syrup develops into jam! Meanwhile, I’m so disapointed and angry about how misleading Ball is and the amount of money that they have made on our failures. They should re-do their proportions/recipes, etc. or quit selling this quick freezer method that doesn’t work! I hand selected delicious #1 freestones available in our rich agricultural area, bought Ball plastic freezer jam containers, carefully followed directions and it all resulted in a major disappointment

      I just got back from the store from purchasing Certo liquid pectin and cute 4 oz glass freezer/jam jars. Sorry I removed the plastic wrapping on the box of jars, because if the jam doesn’t turn out right, I could have returned and got my $ back for these expensive jars. I’m so annoyed with Ball, I will never buy any of their products again! Sorry, I just have to vent. I wished I had read your blogs before I made such an investment.

      • Ugh, so sorry to hear that! I hope the liquid Certo works for you. If it doesn’t, you’ll just have to make lots of pancakes or ice cream to eat it with… :) I’m sure you’ll be able to use the jars for another kind of jam, so hopefully you won’t be totally out the money! They’re great for apple butter, if you don’t want to try anything with pectin again :) Good luck!

  • Irene

    I too had the same problem. The peaches were exceptionally juicy tho. I called the number on their website and talked to them. They were very nice and the woman I spoke with said most of their calls are on the peach jam. As angry as I am about it, I have to say it’s probably not a Ball issue. I gave up trying to make peach freezer jam because it was constantly failing. In fact, it’s been probably 3 years since I made it. This is the first time I used Ball. Previous failures were with Sure-Jell, MCP, and Certo. I am really disappointed. I don’t recall using peaches that were any less juicy several years ago. The last time I made jam, I called the pectin. I don’t remember if it was MCP or Sure-Jell, but they said something interesting. They said they test the pectin with that season’s fruits to make sure it works and they adjust it each year as the pectin amount in fruits vary each year. I don’t know if this was just a bunch of you-know-what, but it didn’t make sense to me. If it works one year for one season on THEIR trees, how do they know it will work on my fruit across the country? And how can it be good for more than one season?

    Anyway, I’m both mad and disappointed. Ball does not have remake instructions for any of their freezer fruit because she said it doesn’t remake. So, I’m done with Ball, for sure. Next year I think I’ll try draining my peaches of the juice before I add the rest of the ingredients. If anyone else has any ideas, I’d sure appreciate them. These peaches were to die for! I hope someone has had some success with peach jam besides the cooked stuff.

    • I am glad to know I’m not the only one! I made successful–and delicious!–peach freezer jam last year with Ball’s Classic Pectin that came in the box (not the flex-batch bottle). But this is sure making me hesitant to try again in future years. I’ve never heard the bit about pectin amount varying, but it seems like those would be regional variations, not national. Thanks so much for your input!

  • Irene

    My pleasure! A delightful site!

  • Christy

    I have made raspberry, strawberry and peach jam with the new Ball pectin and ALL of it was runny. LIke I hadn’t even put any pectin in at all! I’m so irritated to go to all the expense and time to make jam only for it not to be jam! I wish they’d bring back the envelopes I’ve used for the last couple of years.
    Thanks for the post and comments–makes me realize it’s not just me!

    • Nope, not just you! My strawberry was runny too, but I used “classic pectin” (but in the jar, not the envelope) and I figured I had made a mistake. If you haven’t read Irene’s recent comment, you may want to–she had some ideas for how to remake it. Good luck with it!

  • Irene

    First, let me apologize right up front for my wordiness in this post. I posted above about my peach jam issues with Ball Instant Pectin.

    We spent the summer in a small ND farming town, less than 200 people. Most of the women I got to know preserves her own foods for the winter. And they all made jam and had the same problem in the past, so we decided to see what we could do with our ‘syrup’. Since I now had 4 jars of peach ‘syrup’ that I made with the Instant Pectin (described above), I thought I’d try some of the solutions given for other pectins to see if I could save it. What did I have to lose? I’m sharing this experience because I thought some of you might also be adventurous. And desperate. I can’t, at this point, give you exact measurements that I used. I can only tell you the process I used, what I tried, because I wasn’t sure what would work. First, I bought some liquid Certo, even tho I’ve read I shouldn’t mix pectins. For the first jar, I used Certo’s remake instructions for cooked jam. I found them somewhere on the web but they are also in the box insert. My jars were 1 cup each, so I did what they said. I brought one cup of jam to a full rolling boil then I added 3 Tbsps sugar, 1 1/2 tsps of both fresh lemon juice and CERTO liquid fruit pectin. Stirred it well, returned it to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. I removed it from the heat, skimmed the foam off, and put it back in the cleaned jar. This one got thicker by the next day, but not thick enough so I let it sit another day with no change. Frustrated, I just added – directly to the jar – about 1 1/2 Tbsps of Certo, about 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and about 2 Tbsps sugar. I did not cook it this time! The next day it was perfect from a thickness standpoint. It tasted very good but I prefer it to not be so lemony. I did the same with the next jar and it came out thick enough to cut with a knife! It tasted good – no so lemony – but was difficult to spread, not a great texture. (Of course we ate it anyway!) I did the next two jars without cooking. One came out perfect and the other was a little thin, so I added some more of everything. It came out just fine. I don’t know the exact measurements for these last jars, but they were similar to those I used above. The other women had the same success with theirs, doing the same thing but using different brands of pectin. One woman had not made peach jam but wanted to try it. Hers was the best batch, using the cooked Sure Jell batch; everyone else was re-making theirs. But…hers had large pieces of peaches and everyone else had finely chopped theirs as directed in the recipes, as had I. Was this a factor? We don’t know.

    So what am I trying to tell you? I guess that we don’t all have to have syrup when we want jam. And that it can be fixed, but perhaps not consistently. We had so much fun with our experiments, we’re going to try to get it right the first time next summer. Maybe we’ll learn more and I’m glad to share it here if I do. And perhaps I’ll even have better measurements. If I don’t bore you to tears, anyway. I guess making jam is really an imprecise science, huh? I hope this helps someone out there. Or inspires them.

    • Thank you, wow! I hadn’t gotten to trying a remake of mine yet, but I’ll definitely try it now. Maybe it can be saved :)

      For the lady whose jam turned out well, was she the only one doing cooked jam? Or did some of the others’ cooked jams also stay runny?

      Thanks again for sharing your tips :)

  • Jessica

    Weird. I have used it for a couple years with several varieties of peaches and I love it. I just searched online to find the ration…so that I don’t have to go out to the curb and dig through the trash for the discarded envelope. I love how this pectin calls for more fruit than peaches. I use it for all types of fruit and the peaches always set fairly well…though I don’t need a gelatiny, stand-on-its-own type of set…I just spread it on toast. This pectin and the reasonable amount of sugar make the best, freshest-tasting jam I make. I give away jam for birthdays and such and have had many people tell me that the jam has been better in the last few years (when I stopped using all the other pectins that call for too much sugar.

    I wish you all luck in your jamming.

  • Margo Evenson

    I wasn’t aware I had bought the instant pectin by Ball — but by the time I got home, I decided to go for it, so instead of cooking my fresh Concord Grape jam, I used the freezer method with Ball. It didn’t jell at all and so the second batch I used 10 times the amount they told me to and it still did not jel. I have 8 pints of grape juice/syrup. Not fun as it cost about $25 to get the grapes and the pectin was $6 not to mention the sugar and jars etc.

  • Margo Evenson

    I think if I had just cooked it with sugar (the old fashioned way) it would have been fine, since my grapes were just barely ripe so they had pectin of their own .. I will never do another no-cook anything!

  • Irene

    Diana…sorry to be so long in getting back to you.

    Half the group did no-cook and the other half did cooked, all with powdered pectin but not Ball Instant. The cooked is the kind that you cook for one minute or so…don’t remember the exact directions. The woman whose jam turned out did the cooked recipe.

    Surprisingly, yesterday I found Utah peaches at the grocery store. I don’t know how they are but they need a little ripening. I was so encouraged by the testing and remaking we did that I bought several to try peach jam again. I’ll report back.

    Margo, it is so frustrating, I know, to have to waste that kind of wonderful fruit and hard earned money. Everyone says it’s nice to have syrup for ice cream and pancakes, but even that’s frustrating to hear when it’s not what you wanted in the first place! My sympathies!

  • Patti

    Tonight I had 3 peaches I needed to use and had a sample pkg of the Ball’s Instant Pectin – I diced up my peaches (not mashed, but in kinda small pieces) 1 2/3 cups, added the lemon juice per the directions and the 2/3 cup sugar and let set for 10 minutes, then added the pectin and stirred for 3 minutes…put it in the jar and came in here and researched to see if this would really work while I waited the 30 recommended minutes…was really figuring I had made a jar of syrup…when the 30 minutes were up, I went and made a piece of toast and opened the jar to find good, thick peach jam – and it is YUMMY!!! Definately worth the 15 minutes it took to make!!!

  • julie

    Thankyou everyone for your posted remarks for The Ball Real Fruit Pectin,the instant pectin brand.
    I myself was very sceptic on the amount of berries to the amount of sugar. Didnt seem right. I always used sure gel which included 2 cups berries to 4 cups sugar. This brand was 1 n 2/3 fruit to 2/3 sugar. something wrong with that.
    Since walmart was out of every pectin except for one jar of instant pectin i grabbed it. well thanks to yous im taking it back and saving my fruit.
    greatly appreciated Julie

    • That’s the same reason I even tried the instant pectin! Bad track record, Walmart :) I think Publix has the cheapest price on Surejell in our area. Hope you get the jam made before the fruit goes bad!

  • Linda

    I read on another site that you have to boil the pectin 1 minute at a full rolling boil in water or juice ONLY, before adding it to the fruit and sugar. I have not tried it yet.

    • Yes, you do have to boil the pectin. That’s how I did it, but I didn’t get the results I was hoping for (or that I got with Ball classic pectin and the cooked method). I’d recommend going with Sure-jell pectin for best results, or if you want to use less sugar, just puree the peaches and cook with a little maple syrup for 10 minutes until thick. It makes a delicious peach butter that is great on toast and in yogurt! (I don’t like it with peanut butter–it’s not quite flavorful enough to stand up to the salty peanut butter, but by itself it’s fabulous.)

  • I found these reviews after I made three types of jam this morning with the Ball instant pectin. Peach, raspberry, and blueberry. I had no problem with any of them. They aren’t runny at all. I’ll be using the instant again, especially when there is an abundance of different fruits at one time.

    • I’m glad to hear it! I’m curious to know if they’ve changed something in the last couple of years or if there’s something else that makes the pectin finicky, or maybe we were just all doing it wrong. (I don’t think so, though, because I made freezer jam with Classic pectin and Sure-jell and it was fine.) Thanks for your comment!

  • Stephanie Williams

    I just made perfect peach freezer jam by going to the Ball canning site and using the Pectin Calculator. Here is the link. I used fresh ripen peaches off my tree and the instant freezer jam pectin from ball and they gelled perfectly and the taste was delicious! And it’s not just for peaches….you pick your fruit, then if you want jelly or jam and lastly the kind of pectin you will be using and hit calculate below. It gives you exact measurements and they are accurate. I love it!!!!!

    • I am so glad to hear of so many successes! Maybe I should edit the post now that the last few comments have been favorable :) I am jealous of your peach trees too–I would love to have fruit trees some day! Thank you for your comment–I will definitely check out the pectin calculator :)

  • Sue

    I just used Ball Instant pectin to make peach blueberry jam. The peaches were very ripe and juicy so perhaps I should have added more pectin than the recommended 2 Tbls, which is possible with the the 4.7 ounce jar, the flavor is incredible. After waiting for it to set, the next day I poured the jam from the jar and added more pectin and am hoping it will gel. It still has amazing flavor with much less sugar than other pectin jam recipes. As a topping for icecream or a thinly set jam, it is still great! I have had much success with the Instant pectine in the past and will use again.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sue! Peach blueberry sounds wonderful :) I am really curious to know why some people have such trouble with it and others have no problems–maybe it’s more finicky than the cooked pectin or something? I’m glad it’s worked well for you as a low-sugar jam option. This year I just did peach butter with a little maple syrup instead of fooling with the pectin, so that’s another low-sugar version. I bet it’s fabulous as an ice cream topping. Will have to give that a try!

  • David

    I used Ball Instant and after thirty-six hours it did not thicken whatsoever. All of the jars got opened and poured into a pot and boiled down by a third (that took four hours on low). Frustrated that it was taking so long and still wasn’t getting right, I dumped in some cornstarch and pureed the whole batch with an immersion blender and continued to boil for a bit. It’s about the right thickness now and the flavor is fine. I read where cornstarch will ferment – hmmm, that might be okay, but we will see.

    • Hmmm…so not everyone is having success this year. So strange! Sounds like you’ll get a yummy fruit something-or-other, but you might just have to eat it on ice cream or pancakes :) I bet if you froze it that it wouldn’t ferment. My guess is that a fermented cornstarch flavor wouldn’t go over very well in the places you might use jam or fruit syrup–ha :)

      • David

        It has thickened up really nicely now – the consistency resembles honey. Just fine on toast as well as the other delicacies. I think that boiling it down concentrated the peach flavor so much that there is no discernable cornstarch flavor. So, that seems to work.

        • I made a peach butter this year just like that, minus the cornstarch, and it is delicious! My little guy eats it straight :) I bet yours is awesome after having boiled that long :)

  • Crystal

    I just canned some strawberry rosehip jam, the hot water bath way not freezer. I had gotten the freezer pectin by mistake and used it anyways (cause i am a rebel like that). I cooked the strawberries, rosehips, lemon juice, and sugar like normal. Just before I put it in jars I added the freezer pectin hoping for the best. I think i added more than needed, but like I said, I’m a rebel. :) I put the jars in the hot water bath for 13 mins and then put on a wire rack to cool. It cooled enough to seal and as it cooled more I noticed that it was set. I labeled the tops and turned them upside down and the jam did NOT me. I was very excited. So I guess for the freezer pectin, it needs to be heated up to work.

  • Carol

    I have only made a few batches of freezer jam with the Ball instant pectin, and so far none have set up! I made 2 batches with the Sure-Jell pink box, and they thickened up nicely. The reason I chose the Ball Pectin was the low sugar/no sugar recipe. Even the low sugar Sure-Jell called for twice as much sugar as Ball! (I am diabetic). I thnk I will stay withe the Ball recipe even though it’s more runny, because overall, I think it tastes fantastic! The berry flavor is very intense because the sugar is not overpowering the fruit! I also like the fact that I don’t have to heat up my kitchen and stand over a boiling pot in the heat of the summer! I guess it comes down to taste or thickness!

    • Thanks for your input! I think runny berry jam would have been tastier than the runny peach jam I made–the peach flavor wasn’t too strong. I’ve had more success with peach butter (just boiling down peach puree with a little sweetener) because it takes out a lot of the water and intensifies the flavor. And I agree 100% about not heating up the kitchen with boiling pots! :)

  • Cindy

    I made freezer peach/jalapeno jam for the first time this year but I used the no pectin method. It came out wonderfully. Today, I used the pectin method for the first time and it turned out runny. LOL. So, I am redoing. But what I don’t understand is why I have to can the jam if the freezer method fails. Why can’t one just increase the pectin and freeze?

    • Peach/jalapeno jam?!!? Wow! You’re brave :) I bet it’s delicious, though, because I’ve had a black pepper peach jam that was pretty good. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to try jalapeno though :)

      Where did you read that you have to can it if the freezer method fails? I don’t remember hearing that (which isn’t saying a whole lot ;) ). My guess would be that maybe freezing, thawing, and then re-freezing might affect texture? I know some things you can’t thaw and re-freeze without sacrificing quality (raw meat is one). I know when I had some runny strawberry jam, I went ahead and froze it and then remade each jar as I thawed it for use. (Except I think I got tired of it and we just ended up eating a lot of it runny :) ) I’d definitely try just increasing the pectin and freezing :)

      By the way, what is your no-pectin method? Is it like simmering the puree down into a butter, or do you add a fruit that’s naturally high in pectin and get a jelled result? Would love to hear :)

  • Cindy

    Hi Diana — I am Inland Northwest rural and had loads of jalapeno peppers in garden. I found a peach/jalapeno recipe for basting chicken on grill and turned that into freezer jam. I just used freezer jam/no pectin recipe found online. The sugar load is huge. And yes, it’s simmered until thick. Easy Peasy. And amazingly great. I diced jalapeno in food grinder. There was just a wonderful wave of heat in the peach. Equivalent of one jalapeno per 8 ounce jar. I’ve only tried peaches as we had harvest here that caused me to have boxes of them that I had to prep.

    That said, the recipe for the freezer jam on the pectin box insert says that if your freezer jam fails to solidify to bring another packet of pectin to boil in half cup of water and then refill jars with pectin, more sugar, peach. But, at the end of those instructions, it said to then take it through the water boil canning process.

    I ignored. I went ahead and cooled and then froze all except one. However, that one still has not set up.

    I only made 5 jars 8 ounces and used TWO bags of pectin and no set up.

    • Sounds like you may be making lots of peach-basted grilled chicken! Just kidding :)

      I wonder if the jalapeno acid affected the set of the pectin? Did the recipe on the package insert include jalapenos? (Not that you can’t vary from those recipes, but sometimes a different amount of pectin or sugar might be needed.)

      I read a forum on GardenWeb that highly recommended Pomona’s pectin. They put calcium in their pectin which causes the pectin to set up pretty much regardless of what you put in your jelly/jam–you can even do low-sugar methods.

      Hope you find a way you love to eat it, whether it officially sets up or not! Maybe a dollop on crackers and summer sausage? Now I’m getting hungry :)

  • Cindy

    Ahhh maybe…except the one’s with pectin were pure peach. Go figure! I’ll try a dif pectin and see what happens, although I still am of the mind that the no pectin method is the best way to go. Why hassle with pectin?

  • […] also made peach freezer jam, but that’s a topic for another day. I’m still bitter at Ball Canning. […]

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