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How to Make and Can Homemade Berry Jam

Robin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has three children and loves to share delicious recipes with other cooking enthusiasts.

Fresh, organic berries make the best jam.  I try to either pick my own berries or buy them from a local farmers market.

Fresh, organic berries make the best jam. I try to either pick my own berries or buy them from a local farmers market.

Simple Steps to Cooking Jams and Jellies

The summer is the perfect time to make your homemade jams and jellies. I make my jam every summer and give it out for holiday gifts, housewarmings, or any other fun occasion. It is a great gift and I always get many compliments for the jam. Plus, my family always has homemade jam for marinades, toast, PB&J, etc. The best part is that the process is quite simple.

This summer, I have made strawberry jam, blackberry jam, peach jam, triple berry (blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry) jam, and strawberry-blueberry jam. Personally, I like the triple berry the best, but they all are very good.

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

Supplies for Making Jam or Jelly

  1. Jars and lids: There are 6 jar sizes to choose from that vary in size and style. I prefer either the half-pint (8 oz) or pint (16 oz) sizes. One batch of jam will fill around 4 pint jars or 8 half-pint jars. The half-pint jars are great for small gifts. There are two mouth sizes you can choose from as well. The mouth size is determined by the diameter of the jar opening. I like the wide mouth jars because of the aesthetics, but the regular mouth jars are easier to find. Either mouth size is fine. All jelly jars have a regular mouth size. Your jars and screw tops may be reused, but all lids must be new. If you have the jars, the lids can be bought separately.
  2. Water-bath canner: You will need a water bath canner or a very large stockpot for heating jam after it's ladled into jars; I use a 12-quart stockpot.
  3. Stockpot: A large stockpot is necessary for cooking the jam; I use an 8-quart stockpot.
  4. Saucepan: A small saucepan is useful for heating the lids.
  5. Canning funnel: A canning funnel isn't a necessity, but I highly recommend it. Cleaning really hot jam off of the sides of the jar before it's put in the water bath is not fun. The funnel allows you to ladle the jam into the jars without the mess.
  6. Jar lifter: A jar lifter is also not a necessity, but is a great utensil for lifting the jam out of the hot water bath. The funnel and jar lifter can be bought cheaply at Target.
  7. Ladle and spoon: You will need a ladle and long spoon for stirring the jam.
  8. Measuring cups: You will need both liquid and dry measuring cups.
  9. Bowls: You will need to have several mixing bowls for the fruit and sugar.
  10. Fresh fruit: You can use frozen and dried fruit, but fresh is the best.
  11. Sugar
  12. Pectin: I have used both liquid and dry pectin and haven't seen any difference in my jam. I always buy extra pectin. It can be added to runny jam to thicken it. If your jam is overly ripe it can cause it to be runny.
  13. Lemon (some recipes call for adding lemon)

Preparation

I like to have everything ready before I start cooking the jam.

  1. Wash lids, jars, and bands in hot, soapy water. After I have washed the jars, I put them in a rinse and hold cycle in my dishwasher to keep them warm. You want your jars warm when putting the hot jam in them so they don't break.
  2. Simmer water in a canner or large stockpot. There should be enough water that when jars are put in canner/stockpot, there is one inch of water on top of the lids. I usually fill a little more than half of the stockpot.
  3. Boil water in a small pot, take off of heat, place flat lids in the pot, cover, and let stand until ready to use. Drain the lids well before using them.
  4. Prepare fruit as directed in the chart below.
  5. Measure sugar separately in a bowl and set aside. Reducing the amount of sugar can cause the jam not to set. You can try the low sugar fruit pectin recipes if you want to cut on sugar.
  6. Cut open pectin and place it in a cup next to the stovetop.

Cooked Jam Recipes Using Sure Jell Certo Pectin (From Package)

FruitHow to Prepare FruitIngredientsYields

Apricot

Leave on skin, pit and finely chop

3 1/2 cups finely chopped apricots; 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice; 5 3/4 cups of sugar; 1 pouch of pectin

7 cups of jam

Blackberry, Boysenberry, Youngberry: 2 quarts of berries

Crush berries

4 cups of crushed berries; 7 cups of sugar; 1 pouch of pectin

8 cups of jam

Blueberry: 4 Pints of berries

Discard stems and crush blueberries

4 1/2 cups of crushed blueberries; 2 Tbsp. lemon juice; 7 cups of sugar; 2 pouches of pectin

9 cups of jam

Peach or Pear: 3 lb of fruit

Peel, pit and finely chop fruit

4 cups finely chopped fruit; 1/4 cup lemon juice; 7 1/2 cups of sugar; 1 pouch of pectin

8 cups of jam

Raspberry or Loganberry: 4 pints of berries

Crush berries

4 cups of crushed berries; 6 1/2 cups sugar; 1 pouch of pectin

7 cups of jam

Strawberry: 2 pints of strawberries

Hull strawberries and crush

4 cups crushed strawberries; 7 cups of sugar; 1 pouch of pectin

8 cups of jam

Triple Berry: 2 pt strawberry, 1 pt. raspberry, 1 pt. blackberry

Crush fruit

2 cups crushed strawberries; 1 cup crushed raspberries; 1 cup crushed blackberries; 7 cups of sugar; 1 pouch of certo

8 cups of jam

Instructions for Berry Jam

  1. Place fruit and sugar in a saucepan. I used a pastry blender or potato masher to mash my fruit before adding the sugar. Using a food processor breaks down the fruit's natural pectin and can cause the fruit to not set. Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to reduce foam. All recipes that I have come across strongly advise you to not double the recipe. The setting of the jam can be tricky, and doubling the recipe can cause problems with your set.
  2. Bring fruit and sugar to a FULL ROLLING BOIL on high heat and stirring constantly. This a boil that won't stop even when quickly stirring.
  3. Add pectin and return to a full boil. Stir constantly when boiling for exactly one minute.
  4. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
  5. Place hot jars on flat surface and quickly ladle jam into jars using the funnel. Be careful—the jam should be extremely hot! Fill jars to within 1/8 of an inch of the top of the lid. Wipe jars and rims so that no jam is on the outside of the jar and place lid and bands on jars. Screw on bands tightly.
  6. Place filled jam jars into the water bath canner or large stockpot with simmering water. Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. You can always add boiling water if needed. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Process the jars in boiling water for ten minutes. Adjust processing time based on your altitude. See the chart below.
  7. After processing for 10 minutes in a water bath, remove the jars with the jar lifter and place upright jars on a towel to cool. After jars have cooled check seals by pressing on the middle of the lid with your finger. If lid springs back up, the jar didn't seal. The jam needs to be refrigerated and eaten soon. Many times you'll hear the lids make a popping sound. You know they sealed when you hear this!
  8. Jams can take up to two weeks to set. Try not to move your jam for at least 24 hours to aid in the setting process.
  9. Unopened jams can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Opened/unsealed jam must be refrigerated and can last up to 3 weeks.

How to Make Jam

What to Do If Your Jam Doesn't Set

If your jam or jelly hasn't set after two weeks you can remake it.

  • If your jam didn't maintain a good seal, do not process again.
  • Eight cups is the maximum amount you should remake at once.
  • Remade jam must be processed in a water bath again.
  • You can do a test batch first with 1 cup of jam if you choose.

How to Remake Jam That Did Not Set (Recipe)

  1. Measure the jam that needs to be remade.
  2. For each cup of unset jam, add 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons pectin.
  3. Heat unset jam to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Quickly add sugar, lemon juice and pectin, stirring to dissolve
  4. Stirring constantly, return to a full rolling boil. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and skim foam.
  5. Fill and seal jars as done before.

Altitude Chart

At altitudes above 1000 feet, increase the time the jam is processed in water bath

AltitudeIncreased Processing time

1,001–3,000 feet

+5 minutes

3001–6,000 feet

+10 minutes

6,001–8000 feet

+15 minutes

8,001–10,000 feet

+20 minutes

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Comments or questions?

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on February 19, 2020:

It’s so frustrating when the jam doesn’t set because you’ve spent so much time (and money) making the jam. Hope it all works out!

Victoria Hannah from Sydney, Australia on February 18, 2020:

Thanks Robin this reminds me of my friends who live in Annaberg-Bucholz, they go into the forest and spend hours picking all the fruit for her delicious jams. I am screen shooting this for a friend who has had a slight mishap with her last lot of jam not setting!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 27, 2015:

Great hub on how to make your own jams. Very useful and handy, if you plenty of time and fruit on your hands. Voted up!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 21, 2013:

Thanks, Rebecca. The berries were delicious this year. The past few years I have switched to only using hand picked or farmer's market berries, and it is amazing how much better the jam is. Thanks for reading! :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on November 21, 2013:

Great jam making guide. Those berries sure look plump and juicy. All the charts are very helpful. I didn't know altitude mattered when making jams. Thanks!

bskinny from US on October 13, 2010:

I just bookmarked this page. This hub is great ! I live in a small town in Tennessee and we have a place close by where we can pick a gallon of blueberries for $6 ! Blueberry jam here we come !

celinewayne on September 28, 2010:

great hub, robin

i've just bookmarked this page. thanks for sharing.

couponalbum from Sunnyvale, CA on September 26, 2010:

Those are some lovely tips. But I love Pineapple jam a lot. Can you tell me how pineapple jam can be utilized to make some good recipes? I would love to hear from you on this topic.

Earth Angel on August 14, 2010:

Wow!! You make jam and help deliver babies!! You are just the BEST!! Love, Earth Angel!! 08.13.10!!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 01, 2010:

Thanks for the tip! I'll look into Pomona pectin. I would love to reduce the amount of sugar and double the recipe.

michelle.dragon99 on August 01, 2010:

lovey tips Robin:)

WildIris on July 30, 2010:

Dear Robin,

A suggestion: Pomona's Universal Pectin www.pomomapectin.com allows the cook to vary the amount of sugar added to jam and jelly. Instead of 7 cups of sugar to 4 cups of berries as advised by Certo, a cook can use 3/4 cups or 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of berries. The jam always sets even when I quadruple the recipe.

Blackberry jam is definitely a favorite with the kids. Red raspberry & strawberry come in a close second. Jam is great on pancakes or heated up and poured over vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Earth Angel on July 30, 2010:

GREAT Hub Robin Love!!

What a fun, albeit messy, way to spend the afternoon with the girls!! I knew if I scrolled through your photos long enough I would get to one with a Princess in Pink smiling at the camera!!

Blessings to you, the girls and Paul!! Earth Angel!!

P.S. Nectarine is my favorite but not on list poll list!!?? ;-)

GojiJuiceGoodness from Roanoke, Virginia on July 30, 2010:

Mmm. Just reading this makes me hungry for homemade jam!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 30, 2010:

There is no equal to home-made-jam. I love making it and having it all the winter through till the next season. Thank you for a well written hub.

Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on July 29, 2010:

I will attest that this is awesome jam. One batch was a little runny, but when she added a bit more pectin to the next it was firmer. Although, even the runny jam is delicious. It's almost like syrup.