Freezer jams are a distinct category of products that have to be stored in the refrigerator (usually up to 3 weeks) or frozen for up to a year. This may a bit tricky if CFOs are selling them during the summer months.
Freezer jams also have to be stored in the refrigerator after thawing and will only retain good quality for 3 to 4 weeks after opening. They are subject to more syneresis (“weeping” or separation of liquid from the gel) than cooked jams and jellies.
Freezer and small batch/uncooked jams are quick, easy, and have better color and flavor than canned jams. They maintain more of the integrity of the fruit and tend to be a healthier alternative to sugar-laden preserves.
A number of Cottage Food Agencies allow the production of freezer jam, but there are a few things you need to know before making them for sale to the consumer.
The recipes for freezer jam are not etched in stone and they can be made with any amount of fruit, even just a handful. You may want to experiment with unusual fruits or get creative, plus you may want to mix and match. Combine different berries together, or pair berries with stone fruit.
You can use fresh or frozen fruit, both will work, of course, fresh is always preferred. Always start with scrupulously clean jars. Feel free to use minimal sugar, or none at all for a super healthy product. Some jammers use a little bit of sugar to intensify the flavor of the fruit.
For safe eating practices, food processors should ask their customers to store their opened jar of jam in the refrigerator until consumed and examine it frequently for signs of spoilage (like mold or yeast growth, or off-odors, including “fermented,” “alcohol” or “yeasty” odors). Discard the product immediately if any signs of spoilage are detected.
It is the Cottage Food Operators responsibility to inform the consumer of best practices when handling and storing the jam.
In addition to your CFO labeling requirements, consider the following date suggestions. This is another way to inform the consumer about a product that does not have an unlimited shelf life.
This label is aimed at consumers as a directive of the date by which the product should be eaten
The Best-By date is a suggestion to the consumer on which consumption date assures ideal quality. (Smell, taste, and texture)
The Sell-By date is aimed at helping retailers know the date the product should be sold by or removed from the shelf. When the products shelf life has ended and it should not be sold. The process in this article does not take the place of contacting your State Cottage Food Agency for approved rules and regulations governing the production of freezer jams.
As a food entrepreneur remember to always follow the Good GMP’s (21CFR117).