Homemade jam and jelly is easier to make than you think and tastes 💯 times better than store bought jam! If you've 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!
Why you'll love to make your own jam
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 grocery stores! Especially these Gourmet Jam Recipes - truly amazing!
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You can find much of the equipment you need at the grocery store, however not all stores carry what you need.
- 8 oz. canning jars with lids - perfect for home canning.
- 4 oz. canning jars with lids - this is a great size when you're gifting the jam.
- canning essentials box kit - contains all of the equipment you'll need to make homemade jam.
- stainless steel ladle - to ladle the jam into jars.
- oven mitts - you'll need two. You're dealing with boiling sugar. The pot holders will keep you from burning your hands.
- wooden spoon - a stainless steel spoon will heat up as the jam boiling, use a long wooden spoon.
- Sure-jell fruit pectin
- Sure-jell low sugar pectin
- stainless steel pots for making jam - best because it conducts heat evenly and heats quickly.
- timer - I love this retro timer!
- old fashioned potato masher
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.
No, you can make jam without pectin. Pectin does not preserve jam, but assists in the jelling process.
Cook it low and slow - removing the moisture in the berries will thicken them.
Chia seeds will thicken preserves without pectin.
Properly preserved the shelf life of jam is up to two years. Store it in a cool dry dark place like your pantry. Once opened, it will last in your refrigerator for about three months.
Overcooked jam will be super thick and leathery. To make it spreadable, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds.
If your jam is too runny, open the jars of jam and pour it back into a large pot.
Repeat the cooking process. 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.
Yes, if you need to fix runny jam follow the directions as stated above.
Yes, if there is mold on the jam, jelly or preserves discard the entire jar.
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.
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.
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 bath to reseal.
YES!! When making jam, be sure and use pure cane sugar. The off-brands often are made with beet sugar.
For best results, allow the fruit to come to room temperature. If it's super cold it could throw off the cooking time.
As long as the fruit doesn't have added sugar, using store bought frozen fruit works! Just be sure to measure it exactly as called for. Allow it to thaw and come to room temperature.
No, if the fruit is past it's expiration, intensifying the flavor by boiling will not results in tasty jam. Use fresh berries and sweet fruit.
Your jam didn't thicken up? Remove the jam from the jars and re-process it by adding an additional package of pectin. You will not need to add additional sugar. Remember you'll need to bring it to a hard rolling boil just as the original recipe dictated. Remove from heat and ladle into clean, sterilized, hot jars.
No, not unless the recipe calls for it. Substituting artificial sugar could cause the jam to not set up or not preserve correctly.
Only if the recipe calls for it.
Again, only if the recipe calls for it. Nor can you sub low sugar pectin for full sugar. Use a different recipe.
You can reuse jars and the rings that you screw on, however you need to use new lids to ensure the jars seal correctly.
Helpful tips for making jam, jelly and preserves
- Do not reuse metal lids, use new 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, fruit or add extra pectin to a recipe. This is worth repeating! Do not add less sugar or more fruit or less pectin than the recipe calls for. 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! 😉
- Do not use a food processor to mash the berries. It will introduce air into the berries making the jam frothy. Use a potato masher.
EXPERT TIP - WAIT one week before deciding the jam isn't setting up! Many jams like this Christmas in July Pepper Jam recipe can take several days to set up, just be patient!
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.
Learning how to make jam and jelly is really a simple process. Just be sure you read and follow the instructions carefully.
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.
- Next mash the berries, rather than chop them. This old fashioned method takes a little time, but will make the jam juicy and fruity.
- Measure the exact amount of fruit the recipe calls for. Too much fruit and the jam Mary turn out runny or not set. Not enough and it could be too thick and the texture will be off.
- Measure the exact amount of sugar the recipe calls for and process it according to the directions.
- 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.
- When the jam has been at a hard boil for exactly one minute, remove from the heat and immediately ladle the hot jam into clean sterilized jars.
- 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
Without a double Strawberry Jam is the most requested jam. I have several versions of strawberry jam on the blog, including the freezer version below. Here are a few more!
- Homemade Strawberry Jam Recipe - classic flavors, this is amazing!
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam - sweet tart flavor, this classic recipe is tangy and delicious!
- Strawberry Preserves Recipe - so intensely flavorful, this is amazing!
Berry jams and jellies recipes
- Christmas Cookie Fig Jam Recipe - just like the filling in your favorite cookie, it's rich and delicious, a wonderful spreadable jam!
- Blueberry Jam - this is an easy recipe, even my 10 year old niece can make it!
- Sugar-free Raspberry Jam - you won't miss the sugar in this amazing sugar-free jam.
- Bam Bam Pomegranate Jam - with just a little kick, it's sweet and tasty, perfect for a pb&j!
- Tart cranberries are the star in the Cranberry Jalapeño Jam! It's a great combination of sweet and tart!
Stone fruit jam recipes
- Peach Jam - sweet, flavorful and packed with fresh fruit.
- Apricot Jam - the step-by-step instructions will have you making jam in no time!
- Ja Makin' Me Crazy Mango Jam Recipe - spicy, tangy and tropical this jam is SO GOOD!
More jam recipes -You bet! Just click here!
Recipes that use jelly and preserves
- Orange Marmalade Glazed Ham - why make a fancy glaze when a jar of jam has all the flavor you need!
- Baked French Toast with Strawberry Jam - perfect for a Sunday brunch.
- Homemade Vinaigrette - a spoonful of jam is the easiest shortcut to make a vinaigrette!
- Twisted PB&J Sandwich - this one will blow your mind, but it's a seriously tasty sandwich.
If you have any additional questions about how to make jam and jelly, please comment below or email your question to: [email protected] - I'd love to hear from you!
Originally published June 12, 2019 - Updated July 14th, 2022 to provide additional information.