How To Make Basic Fruit Jam Without Pectin

How To Make Basic Fruit Jam Without Pectin

Meghan Splawn
Aug 16, 2013

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 ingredient 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 super hero 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 anytime 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 2 in the 16-ounce size.

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 it 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 half these berries before you get started.
  • Mash the fruit and sugar together: Use a potato masher with 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 nears 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 move 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 fridge 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

Makes 2 (16-ounce) jars

What You Need


5 cups of fresh fruit, about 1 pound - blueberries, blackberries and strawberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 or 3 metal teaspoons
Knife and cutting board
Measuring cups
2- to 3-quart, heavy-bottomed pot
Potato masher or large fork
Spatula or wooden spoon
Clean half-pint jar with lid


  1. Prepare the fruit. Cut your fruit into large chunks, discarding any pits, cores, or heavily bruised sections. Slice a 1-inch wedge from the end of the lemon. Put a few clean spoons in the freezer.
  2. Combine the fruit and sugar in the a medium pot. Combine the fruit, sugar, and lemon in the pot along with the pinch of salt. Turn the heat on to medium and mash the fruit a little until a chunky texture is reached.
  3. Cook the fruit and sugar. Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring frequently. When a boil is reached, keep an eye on it, still stirring frequently. Cook until the fruit is jammy and thick, about 20 minutes.
  4. Begin checking the fruit for doneness. After 20 minutes, start checking to see if the jam has set. Remove a spoon from the freezer and dribble several drops onto the spoon. Wait a few seconds, and then run your finger through the jam. If it leaves a distinct track in the jam, it is done. If not, keep cooking the jam and test again a few minutes later.
  5. Cool the jam and move it two jars for longer term storage. Turn off the heat and carefully spoon the jam into the jar. Set it aside to cool, then screw on the lid, label it with the fruit and the date, and store it in the refrigerator, up to three weeks.

Recipe Notes

  • Freezing this jam: You can also freeze this jam. Just be sure you have left 1/2-inch of headspace in the jar or container so the jam can expand while freezing.
Created with Sketch.