When fresh berries are abundant this summer, do yourself a big favor and snatch them up for jam making. No need to make a huge fuss over buying special ingredients or equipment for canning — you can make summer berry jam with just the fruit, lemon juice, and sugar in about 30 minutes at home.
The resulting jam is fruit-forward, sweet, and full of dark, pungent berry flavor. It will make you feel like a kitchen superhero every time you open a jar for your morning toast.
What Is Fruit Jam Without Pectin?
Many fruit jams are made with the addition of pectin for thickening, but fruit jam can be made with just fresh fruit, lemon juice, and sugar. Jam made without pectin is a little softer and looser than jam made with pectin, but learning this technique means that you can make jam at almost any time with ingredients you probably have on hand.
For Your Information
- This jam is best for berries that naturally contain pectin. You'll need about a pound of fresh berries.
- Clean canning or storage jars are recommended for storing this jam. You'll need two (16-ounce) jars.
The Key Ingredient to Basic Fruit Jam
The secret ingredient to making jam without pectin is time. The fruit and sugar need plenty of time to cook and thicken. A long, slow boil drives the moisture out of the fruit, helping to preserve and thicken it at the same time. Fruit varies in water content as well, and some fruits may take longer to jam up. Start checking the jam for thickness after at least 20 minutes of a steady boil.
Here's How to Make Jam in 5 Easy Steps
- Cut the fruit into even pieces: Depending on the size of your strawberries and blackberries, you'll either need to quarter or halve them before you get started.
- Mash the fruit and sugar together: Use a potato masher to work the jam and sugar together — this releases moisture from the berries and gets them cooking faster.
- Boil the fruit for 20 minutes: Bring the fruit to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start with big, juicy bubbles and slowly progress to small, tighter bubbles as the jam gets closer to doneness.
- Know when the jam is done: Simply dribble some hot jam from the pot onto the frozen spoon and wait a few seconds for it to cool. Run your finger through the jam — if it makes a clear path through the jam and doesn't fill in, then you have a good set.
- Jar and store the jam: When the jam is set to your liking, remove the jam from the heat and transfer to the clean jars. Cover and cool completely before moving the jam to the fridge for long-term storage.
Using and Storing Your Fruit Jam
Because this jam isn't canned, it must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. It will last several weeks in the fridge, but can be frozen for up to three months. Obviously you can use the jam anywhere you like jam — on toast, in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or on fresh biscuits. No-pectin jam is also ideal for baking — swirl it into pancake or muffin batter or bake it into fruit pies to savor the flavor for even longer.
How To Make Basic Fruit Jam
What You Need
5 cups fresh berries (about 1 pound), such as blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 or 3 metal spoons
Knife and cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
2- to 3-quart heavy-bottomed pot
Potato masher or large fork
Heatproof spatula or wooden spoon
2 clean (8-ounce) jars with lids
- Prepare the berries. Cut the berries into large chunks, discarding any heavily bruised sections. Place a few clean metal spoons in the freezer.
Combine the fruit and sugar in a medium pot. Place the fruit, sugar, lemon, and salt in a 2- to 3-quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and mash the fruit a little with a potato masher or large fork into a chunky texture.
Cook the fruit and sugar. Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to boil while keeping an eye on it, still stirring frequently, until the fruit is jammy and thick, about 20 minutes.
Begin checking the fruit for doneness. Start checking to see if the jam is set. Remove a spoon from the freezer and dribble several drops of the jam onto the spoon. Wait a few seconds, and then run a finger through the jam. If it leaves a distinct track in the jam, it is done. If it runs back in on itself, keep cooking the jam and test again a few minutes later.
Cool the jam and move it to two jars. Turn off the heat and carefully transfer the jam into 2 clean (8-ounce) glass jars. Cool to room temperature. Seal, label with the fruit and the date, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- Freezing this jam: You can also freeze this jam for up to 3 months. Just be sure to leave 1/2-inch of room at the top of the jar so the jam can expand while freezing.