Butterfly has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.
Homemade Jam for Yourself or Friends
A Basic Recipe for Use With any Berries
Making homemade mulberry jam is simple. The hardest part is waiting for the berries to cook! In fact, you can use these basic guidelines for any type of berries, and make any kind of jam you want.
Use any quantity of berries, but a large batch (a gallon or more) will be more worth your time.
What You Will Need
- Mulberries, or other berries or fruits. Good candidates include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or combinations of fruits like strawberries and rhubarb. Use whatever appeals to you and your family.
- Sugar or another sweetener (not too much or you'll overwhelm the mulberries)
- Pectin, or small sour apples, oranges, or lemons (which all contain pectin).
- A spoon (I like a wooden one).
- A cooking pot suited to the amount of berries you have available.
- Freezer containers, or canning jars and equipment, if canning.
- Time (1 hour or more).
Step 1: Prepare the Mulberries for Cooking
When you harvest your berries, avoid crushing them by placing them in shallow containers. You will need to sort them if they have come directly off a tree. Wearing thin rubber gloves is a good idea, as mulberries stain easily! If you don't wear gloves, you will have purple hands for several days.
- Begin by taking out all sticks, leaves, and unripe, pink berries which are quite tart and can make you sick. A few unripe ones in the pot won't spoil the jam, but don't let too many slip by. This is the most labor-intensive part of the process.
- Wash your berries. You may float them in a clean sinkful of water and scoop them out into a colander to dry, or you may use a wire colander or sieve and run water over them. Wash them gently, so as not to crush them and release the juices.
- When you have removed everything you don't want to eat, you are ready to start jamming.
Step 1: Sorting Berries
Step 2: Cooking Down the Jam
- Cooking down the berries is hardly any work at all. Turn the heat on low, cover the pot, and go do something else, coming back occasionally to stir the jam and see whether you need to adjust the heat. As more juice is released, you should increase the heat a bit at a time and stir more frequently.
- You may add sugar at the beginning, if you like. I add a little, just to thicken the juice into a light syrup. A rule of thumb for jams is to measure your fruit and add half of whatever that quantity is in sugar, but ripe mulberries are quite sweet on their own, so this proportion of sugar will be overwhelming. Use discretion.
- You may add pectin if you desire a thicker jam. Pectin is sold as a powder or a liquid, or you may make your own from sour apples (I usually just chop a few small peeled and cored apples into the jam and allow them to cook down together. Tart applesauce should work as well).
- When the berries are a bit bubbly and have released their juices, they are just about done. You can allow them to cook and thicken a bit more (supposing you have added sugar and/or pectin), or you can take them as they are.
Step 2: Berries Into Jam (Cooking Down)
Whether to Can or Freeze?
I usually don't have berries in sufficient quantities to make it worth my while canning them, but you may use a waterbath canning or steam canning method if you like (see instructions below). I prefer to spoon my jam into small freezer cups or cartons, and thaw them as needed. Be sure to label carefully with complete product name and date.
The Basics of Canning Mulberry Jam, Using a Waterbath Method
While your berries are cooking down, prepare your jars and equipment:
- Wash your jars, self-sealing lids, and rings, set your lids in scalding water, and fill your waterbath canner with the appropriate amount of water, aiming to cover the jars by about 1 inch. (You may use any size or style of jars which appeals to you, provided they are true canning jars.) Begin heating the canner.
- After your berries have cooked down, ladle the jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of your jars with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel, then put on the lids, being careful to get the rings tight, but not overtight. Place carefully in your canner. Once the water boils, begin the processing time. Process pints 15 minutes.
- Remove jars to a clean, dry towel or board away from drafts, and leave to cool for 8–12 hours.
- Check seals. Wash the outsides of the jars and the rings, then store in a cool, dark place.
Harvesting Mulberries: The Shaken Tree Method
Different Species of Mulberries, Presented by a Wildfoods Foodie
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you eat the stems of the mulberries?
Answer: If there aren't too many stems, I suppose that would be alright...but too many definitely would make your finished product unpleasant!
Question: Can seeds be removed from mulberry jam?
Answer: I've never done so, and think that would prove very tricky. I don't know why it would be necessary.
Question: How much sugar is in mulberry jam?
Answer: Use however much sugar you want. A classic jam recipe measures the fruit and uses at least half this total quantity in sugar. But this is not necessary, especially if you intend to freeze the jam rather than can it. So use whatever tastes good, as mulberries are usually sweet to start with. I used between 1/4 and 1/3 of the volume of berries.
Question: Can you freeze mulberry jam?
Answer: Yes, you can freeze most any jam, including mulberry. I recommend small plastic freezer cartons. Pack jam into containers with a little room for expansion, and have lids pre-labeled with product and date, so that moisture doesn't prevent ink or labels from sticking. If sealed well, the jam should last at least a year before risking much freezer-burn.
© 2009 Joilene Rasmussen
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on June 14, 2018:
Yes, this is a simple jam process that can be used with other fruits. Use sugar or other sweetener to taste. Liquid sweeteners will make your jam thinner, of course. Berries, crushed stone fruits (peaches, plums, etc.), and some tropical fruits are good candidates for this recipe. Use singly or in any combination of fruits you prefer.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 12, 2018:
I must try it one day but No such fruit in Malaysia yet
peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 12, 2018:
Can I replace it with other Fruits?
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on March 21, 2018:
You can skip the pectin if you don't care about the jam being a little runny, or sauce-like. Pectin causes fruit juice to gel. Adding apples or citrus (including peel) will provide natural pectin, as when making marmalades, but will drastically alter the flavor of your product. You may use any sweetener you prefer, and in any amount, provided you don't care about the sugar helping the jam "set up" or gel. I often cut the sugar in recipes by half or more, so long as I don't require it for texture. Stevia granules or leaves, honey, etc. are acceptable alternatives...but sugar is cheap. If you have a beekeeping friend, ask him where he gets his winter feed supply of sugar. He may know a bulk source which will cut your costs.
Adi dodawad on March 15, 2018:
It was a good one, but in place of pectin or sugar what else can be used? I usually use some 18 cups of mulberries because we always have a bumper stock in summer. So can you suggest something else to put instead of pectin or sugar? We can't buy so much pectin every year.
Can you suggest something more cheaper?
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on August 10, 2016:
It'll taste good, Deb!
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on June 27, 2015:
These came from a friend's tree, which I never saw; I couldn't say about the strength of the branches. You are right about the flavor - it can be dull. What a good idea about the drink mix! The truth is, I was in a hurry when I did this batch, and figured the critters who dig in my compost pile could have the unripe berries.
Pat on June 26, 2015:
Let the unripe berries ripen a few more days, and sort again. No need to throw those away. I am very doubtful that they are harmful, but who would want to eat them. Your tree must not have strong stems on the berries, as I usually don't have nearly that many unripe ones. I usually find mulberry jam not flavorful enough for me. My Mom used an envelope of unsweetened drink mix, like Kool Aid, to flavor; some compatable flavor. I follow the recipe on the pectin box otherwise.
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on July 19, 2014:
Great news! Thanks.
Kara on June 27, 2014:
some reports say that underripe mulberries can be mildly hallucinogenic. I have it on very good authority that no matter how many of those underripe berries you eat, you will not have troubles. I've also eaten both the ripe and unripe all my life with no troubles. Just FYI, if I get a few underripe in my jam, I don't stress about it at all.
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on December 08, 2011:
Bangles, I have two suggestions for you. (Probably I am too late responding to be of use this year, but maybe next? So sorry. I don't get much computer time.)
Suggestion One - Reboil your jelly, adding a bit of pectin to it. How much, of course, depends on exactly how stiff you wish your jelly to be. You could use commercial pectin (Fruit-Gel, etc.), or you could add some sour apple pieces or perhaps sauce, as these naturally have pectin. (Many citrus fruits do also.)
Suggestion Two - Add a bit of plain gelatin, heating to dissolve it in the jelly, then letting it set back up. This might give it too much shape/stiffness, however, depending on just how flexible you need the jelly to be.
A third suggestion is to add more sugar, as sugar will give jelly more body, but this would alter the taste with which you are already satisfied.
Bangles on November 11, 2011:
I made my 1st batch of mulberry jelly yesterday but it is a tad to thin. Too thick to call syrup but too thin for jelly. I want to be able to pipe with it (you know Happy Birthday etc) but it will just fall out of shape. Its not a true jelly. I usually make mulberry & apricot jam with my berries but thought Id give jelly a go. Any advice for a novice jelly maker. ( it tastes yummy now. I don't want to alter the flavor.)
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on November 05, 2011:
Deb, I hope it turns out great!
deb on October 31, 2011:
i making now will c how i go? Will keep informd!
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on August 05, 2010:
Misty, the stems cook down so soft that they aren't worth being concerned over. The whole mess of berries turns into a sort of mush, which is what makes it a jam instead of a jelly. (Jelly is all juice, solidified with pectin or gelatine.)
If you wanted to just use the juice, I would soften the berries somewhat by cooking a little while, then crush them, and strain out the juice. Of course, if you have a juicer, you could simply run them through it, I suspect. (I don't have a juicer.)
I hope this helps.
misty on August 02, 2010:
i will cook mulberries down for the first time & i was wondering if they cook off the stem & you discard this and just use the juice? and at what time do you do this? thanx!
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on June 10, 2010:
Treetop, I don't use pectin in this jam. If cooked down enough, it's stiff enough to pile onto a piece of bread without trouble, on it's own.
18 cups of fruit is a lot, but should be very doable in one batch, providing you're willing to stir frequently and thoroughly, to keep the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
As mentioned in the article, mulberries don't need much sugar, as they are typically quite sweet on their own. However, you will want to add some sugar, to help them thicken and to improve the texture of the jam. According to a typical jam recipe, you should add 9 cups of sugar to your 18 cup batch of berries. However, this is probably excessive for such sweet mulberries. I would start with 4 or 5 cups of sugar, and go from there, adding to suit your taste. Wait a few minutes between additions, to give the sugar time to work on the berries. The more sugar you add, the thicker and more syrupy the berries will become, and the more juice you will draw out of them. So just experiment, until you are happy with your batch, then write down your findings for next time. Share them here, if you like.
treetop on June 07, 2010:
Thank you for the info, is it OK to cook a large batch (18 cups) at a time? If so, how much pectin?, how much sugar. I have my own tree and they are large and very sweet! :)
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on April 29, 2010:
Smurfette, I haven't done berries since last summer, but if my memory serves me, it took roughly forty-five minutes to cook this batch down (very slowly, stirring often). The idea is to get them thick enough to handle easily and pile well on bread/waffles/etc. If you like them more syrupy, less time will be involved. It's really a matter of taste.
smurfette on April 26, 2010:
How long would you say the berries cooked down? This is my frist attempt at canning mulberries...
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on September 07, 2009:
Fastfreta, I'm so glad you dropped by! I've been up to my ears in canning this season...I have many more food preservation hubs sitting in half-done drafts because I've been too busy canning to write!
Someday I'll get back over and read more of your hubs. My garden is slowing down some so that looks like a possibility. Your hubs are most enjoyable.
Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on September 06, 2009:
WOW, this is an interesting hub. I never knew that the pink mulberries could make you sick. That's why it's good to read all the hubs completely. Thank you very much for sharing. My mother can identify with you on your canning venture. I've never canned or desired to, however it does look like fun.
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from Ovid on August 18, 2009:
Oh, Ralwus, that's sad! I'm sorry. Maybe you can put in another one in a more convenient spot, or choose something else luscious - say, cherries. They don't have to be very old to bear - we have a three-year-old semi-dwarf cherry tree that would have borne had not my two-year-old stripped the blossoms. :-)
ralwus on August 17, 2009:
Chit! I cut my mulberry tree down this spring and it was in the first time fruit! I wanted it off the property line and dint notice the fruit until it was too late.