Homemade jam and jelly is easier to make than you think and tastes 100 times better than store bought! Never made preserves or perhaps you need a refresher on a couple of things? Here is everything you need to know about how to make jam at home!
Table of contents
- Jam Making
- Basic Equipment Needed
- What does lemon juice do in jam making?
- Do you need pectin to make jam?
- How can I thicken jam without pectin?
- How long will homemade jam last?
- How do you fix overcooked jam?
- How do you fix jam that is too runny?
- Can I add pectin after jam is made?
- What is difference between jam, jelly and preserves?
- Is mold on jam dangerous?
- How do you know if homemade jam is bad?
- Can I eat the jam if the jar didn’t seal?
- Does the type of sugar matter?
- Can I use fruit right out of the refrigerator?
- Basic Equipment Needed
- Steps to make Homemade Jam
- Jam Recipes for Canning
- Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe
Whenever I go home, I always bring several jars of preserves. I wrap them carefully and label each jar. And when we get to Mom and Dad’s I always find an inspection tag from the TSA.
And usually, a jar disappears! I swear I need to pack scones so the agents at TSA have something to spread those preserves on! 😋
I know my family members really appreciate the treat. Aunts Barb and Shirley have been known to arm wrestle or even steal a jar when the other isn’t looking.
But it’s all in good fun!
Have you ever made your own? It’s so much easier to make than you think and tastes SO MUCH better than what you buy at the store!
Basic Equipment Needed
- canning jars
- 2 large pots – one for making jam, one for sterilizing jars, rings and lids and sealing the jars.
- wooden spoon
- hot pan holder
- potato masher
What does lemon juice do in jam making?
Lemon juice provides two benefits; it helps preserve the color of the fruit – for instance, it helps keeps peaches yellow as opposed to turning brown when it cooks.
Additionally, it works together with the pectin to help thicken the preserves because a sufficient amount of acid must be present to make the fruit set.
Do you need pectin to make jam?
No, you can make jam without pectin. Pectin does not preserve jam, but assists in the “jelling” process.
How can I thicken jam without pectin?
Cook it low and slow – removing the moisture in the berries will thicken them.
Chia seeds will thicken preserves without pectin.
How long will homemade jam last?
Properly preserved jam will last up to two years when stored in a cool dry place. Once opened, it will last in your refrigerator for about three months.
How do you fix overcooked jam?
Overcooked jam will be super thick and leathery. To make it spreadable, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds.
How do you fix jam that is too runny?
EXPERT TIP – WAIT one week before deciding the jam isn’t setting up! Many jams like my Christmas in July Pepper Jam can take several days to set up, just be patient!
If your jam is too runny, remove it from the jars and pour it back into a large pot.
Add another package of pectin and bring the preserves to a boil.
Boil EXACTLY one minute, remove from heat and ladle back into clean sterilized jars and seal.
Can I add pectin after jam is made?
Yes, if you need to fix runny jam follow the directions as stated above.
What is difference between jam, jelly and preserves?
Is mold on jam dangerous?
Yes, if there is mold on the jam, jelly or preserves discard the entire jar.
How do you know if homemade jam is bad?
The jam may have changed color, have mold on top, or perhaps there’s a change in the smell of the jam. Properly sealed, jam will last about two years! Discard any jam that is questionable.
Can I eat the jam if the jar didn’t seal?
It may look good and smell good but botulism can’t be detected by sight or smell. Don’t take any chances, discard the jar if has not been refrigerated.
Always check that jam is sealed by pressing down on the button on the lid. It should not pop up. If it did not seal, unscrew the ring and remove the lid. Clean the top of the jar then add a new lid, screw down tightly and process in boiling water to reseal.
Does the type of sugar matter?
YES!! When making jam, be sure and use pure cane sugar. The off-brands often are made with beet sugar.
Can I use fruit right out of the refrigerator?
For best results, allow the fruit to come to room temperature. If it’s super cold it could throw off the cooking time.
Steps to make Homemade Jam
- Start by cleaning the fruit well. Using a solution of 1 part vinegar, two parts water soak the berries or fruit and rinse them well.
2. Next mash the berries, rather than chop them. This old fashioned method takes a little time, but will make the jam juicy and fruity.
Using a food processor will introduce air into the berries making the jam frothy.
3. Measure the exact amount of fruit the recipe calls for. Too much fruit the jam may turn out runny. Not enough it could be too thick and you’ll end up with the wrong texture.
4. Measure the exact amount of sugar the recipe calls for and process it according to the directions.
5. Bring it to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is a boil that can’t be stirred down. Here’s what a rolling boil looks like:
Homemade Jam at a rolling boil
6. When the jam has been at a hard boil for exactly one minute, remove from the heat and immediately ladle into clean sterilized jars.
7. Before securing the lid on the jars with rings be sure to clean the tops of the jars, removing any residue so the lids get a good seal.
8. Next screw on the rings and process in a hot water bath to seal the jars.
Jam Recipes for Canning
Helpful tips for making jam, jelly and preserves
- Do not reuse metal lids.
- Canning rings are reusable as long as they are not rusted or dented.
- Have good heavy potholders available!
- Fresh jam is gorgeous! It smells heavenly and looks gorgeous. The first thing you’ll want to do is stick your finger in it to taste – DON’T do that as in reality this is boiling sugar!
- Don’t skimp on the amount of sugar or fruit in a recipe, if you do the jam may not set or it could be too firm. Canning is one part cooking, one part science!
- Lastly….if you make jam or jelly and it doesn’t set. Label it syrup – your family will never know the difference! 😉
What if you don’t have quite enough fruit, do you make the jam with less?
No, don’t skimp on the required amount of fruit in a recipe. If needed add water or juice to ensure it measures correctly.
Here are some of my most popular jams and jellies that I know you’ll love!
- Homemade Strawberry Jam
- Christmas Cookie Fig Jam Recipe
- Peach Jam
- Apricot Jam
- Blueberry Pizzaz Jam
- Ja Makin’ Me Crazy Mango Jam
- Bam Bam Pomegranate Jam
- More jam recipes? You bet! Just click here!
Recipes that use jelly and preserves
- Orange Marmalade Glazed Ham
- Baked French Toast with Strawberry Jam
- Blackberry Jam Recipe
- Homemade Vinaigrette
- Twisted PB&J Sandwich
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Here are the tools you’ll need to make jam!
- 8 oz. canning jars with lids
- 4 oz. canning jars with lids
- canning essentials box kit
- stainless steel ladle
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Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe
Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe
- 4 cups mashed strawberries
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 3 oz. Sure-jell low sugar pectin pink box, powder pectin
- Clean the berries. Remove the stems, mash and measure out exactly 4 cups of fruit.
- Measure the exact amount of sugar into a large pot. Add the pectin and whisk together.
- Stir in crushed berries and bring to a boil.
- Boil for exactly one minute – a hard boil you can't stir down.
- Remove from heat, ladle immediately into container, leaving 1/2 inch for expansion at the top.
- Let stand at room temperature for one day before refrigerating or freezing.