How to Make and Can Homemade Berry Jam
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.
Supplies for Making Jam or Jelly
- 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.
- 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.
- Stockpot: A large stockpot is necessary for cooking the jam; I use an 8-quart stockpot.
- Saucepan: A small saucepan is useful for heating the lids.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ladle and spoon: You will need a ladle and long spoon for stirring the jam.
- Measuring cups: You will need both liquid and dry measuring cups.
- Bowls: You will need to have several mixing bowls for the fruit and sugar.
- Fresh fruit: You can use frozen and dried fruit, but fresh is the best.
- 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.
- Lemon (some recipes call for adding lemon)
I like to have everything ready before I start cooking the jam.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prepare fruit as directed in the chart below.
- 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.
- Cut open pectin and place it in a cup next to the stovetop.
Cooked Jam Recipes Using Sure Jell Certo Pectin (From Package)
How to Prepare Fruit
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
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
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
2 cups crushed strawberries; 1 cup crushed raspberries; 1 cup crushed blackberries; 7 cups of sugar; 1 pouch of certo
8 cups of jam
Making Jam PicturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Instructions for Berry Jam
- 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.
- 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.
- Add pectin and return to a full boil. Stir constantly when boiling for exactly one minute.
- Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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)
- Measure the jam that needs to be remade.
- For each cup of unset jam, add 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons pectin.
- Heat unset jam to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Quickly add sugar, lemon juice and pectin, stirring to dissolve
- Stirring constantly, return to a full rolling boil. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and skim foam.
- Fill and seal jars as done before.
Increased Processing time