Basic Jam for Beginners, All Natural, Low Sugar, No Pectin Added

Basic Jam Making for Beginner - NO Pectin by The High Heel Gourmet

Well, in case you ever wondered (just for the few that do wonder…I hope there is at least one, please!) why I’m not blogging as often in summer months, it’s because I’m busy doing preserves (jams), conserves, syrups or coulis from several fruits at the peak of the season, and some sauces, especially tomato sauce; these are taking time away from blogging and responding to comments.

Since I’ve been busy with preserving fruit, there are a lot of requests about my jam–either wanting to learn how to make them, or  how to BUY them. I’m NOT going to sell my jams, sorry. I don’t make jam to sell. I only make enough for myself and to give to my close friends. With the price I’m paying for fruit and sugar, if I sold them they would be too expensive.

Why? Because I don’t buy cheap fruit! I’m going to be eating my jam, you know. So most of the fruits I use are organic, and I only buy 5-15 lbs. at a time, so I can’t get the wholesale price from vendors. I would have to buy in bulk, which is least 30 lbs. Imagine 48 little green plastic baskets of blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. That’s the minimum for most berry vendors to get about a 15%-25% discount. With stone fruits, I would have to buy at least 40 lbs! I don’t want to make that much jam.

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I get most of the fruit from my regular farmers’ market vendors, who are willing to save fresh-picked fruit (just picked the day before) from their farm and sell them to me. Then I go home and, most of the time, make my jam that very same day. I only have three copper jam pans (one is so small my cat even shuns it because he can’t use it for his bed!) and I don’t want to make big batches, because it normally takes longer to cook them down to the jam stage and that diminishes the fresh taste of the fruit. I also don’t want to make many small batches either because it’s difficult to control the consistency. I also want to enjoy summertime too. So…back to the same solution…I SHOULDN’T BE SELLING JAMS.

So, I’m going to blog about basic jam-making. I hope you all will make your own jam, too. It’s not that complicated once you know the trick.

Also I’ve searched many imported/gourmet food stores, both in NYC and LA, checking out their jams. I’m always hopeful that I will find some jams that fit my requirements. There are none right now, so as I tell the secret of my jamming, I am hopeful that someday I can retire my copper confiture and just go buy your jams instead. Smart approach on my part, isn’t it?

My Requirements are quite simple:

1) I only eat jam made from the best organic fruit picked at the peak of their season. Why not, right? Many people decide to make jam once their fruits that has nearly gone rotten and they don’t want to throw it out, but I only want the best for my jam.

2) Said fruits should be preserved with organic sugar or organic honey only. I don’t trust any manufacturers and processed crap!

3) NO PECTIN ADDED, unless the fruit itself has almost no pectin, then natural pectin extracted from organic apples, using a simple home process, might be added in a very small amount.

4) I want a little bit of SEA SALT in my jam. This is by far the strangest difference, and so far I haven’t found anyone else doing this yet. So, I still have to make my own jam until YOU do. Salt rounds out the sweet and sour tastes and make them all balanced, to my palette. If you like salted caramel, try salt in your jam 😉

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Alright, this is the theory. Jam is a way to preserve fruit with sugar, so please don’t ask me how to make a “sugar free” jam. I don’t know how to make it or, more precisely, I don’t care how to make it. If you don’t have a health problem where you need to avoid sugar at all costs (in that case you shouldn’t just avoid jam, you should avoid eating fruit too) then sugar isn’t as bad as the health-conscious people keep telling you. I’m talking about “organic sugar” here, not the white refined sugar that has been through “who knows what” processing. Also, you should consume ANYTHING in moderation, too.

If you avoid sugar for its calories, fine. Just avoid sugar and don’t eat jam, but don’t use any other sweeteners. I usually say if you’re fat then you can exercise to lose weight, but if you have a tumor in your brain or any other part then exercise can’t help. Sugar substitutes probably have been through some nasty processing as well and I don’t like complicated products like that. I want my food with a name that is easy to understand and is easy to determine its origin, not an abbreviation or series of Roman alphabetics that don’t make any real words or sense.

These said “sugar free” jams normally not only add pectin but use sugar substitutes, so be very careful with that. Some of them advertise that they use “no sugar pectin”.

This is the ingredients list for “no sugar pectin“:


Hello…last time I checked Dextrose was still another name for “Glucose”! C6H12O6, a monosaccharide, or simple molecule SUGAR! No wonder why you don’t need to add sugar; it’s already a major part of the “no sugar pectin”. How deceptive!

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Blogger obstacle! Behind the scene of the jam jars photo shoot. Milli, the ultimate cat, thought that he should be the main subject and not the mildly interesting jam jars!

Let’s start from Understanding the Mechanism of Jam Making.

1) There are three important components that without one of each, guarantees failure in the jam-making.

1.1) Natural Pectin already exists in fruit. Pectin is actually the cell wall of fruit, consisting of a set of complex polysaccharides (multi-molecule sugars). It’s a soluble dietary fiber that does not contribute significant nutritional value or calories. In fact, when pectin enters our digestive system, it slows glucose absorption by trapping carbohydrates (complex or multi-molecule sugars before our enzyme breaks the molecules down to glucose). Consumption of pectin could also help reduce blood cholesterol by increasing the viscosity (the thickness) of the digested content of the food consumed in the intestine and thus reducing the absorption of cholesterol.

Why do I discriminate against the commercial pectin or even “powdered pectin from apples”? Just go buy whatever pectin in question and taste it. Let me know if you can sit down and eat even a spoonful of that powder. If you say yes, go ahead and add that pectin to your jam. There is a ton of recipes out there teaching you how to make jam with that added pectin. Please, skip this post. I can’t eat that pectin. If you were to put me in the cell with pectin powder and starve me for a day, I still wouldn’t touch that inedible white powder…yuck. Why would I put it in my food?

People who make jam with pectin say they can shorten the cooking time and make their jam taste better by adding it. I disagree. I even challenge that person to have a jam-tasting contest with me and I will win (grin). I do from time to time have to add natural pectin to my jam if I’m making one with a low-pectin fruit. I normally will try to pair it with a higher pectin fruit as my first choice, but once in a while I will run into a situation where I need it. In that case I will have to extract pectin from organic Granny Smith apples  here in my kitchen, so I know exactly what I’m dealing with.

1.2) Sugar: What is the role of sugar in jam other than make it sweeter, you might ask. The other principal duty is to absorb the water which is acting as a barrier, preventing pectin molecules from bonding with each other and creating a network. Also, sugar molecules enhance the strength of the pectin network. Think of pectin as a structure and sugar is concrete. Remember, only use only organic sugar.

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1.3) Acid: Acid helps extract pectin from the fruit. Some fruit, though they contain pectin, have too low an amount to make the jam set, so you have to add acid to extract more pectin out. This helps preserve the color of the jam, too. Also, it helps to reassure you that your jam will never get botulism, if you get the pH of the content lower than 4.6. The acid I use is also mostly existing in fruit itself, and if I need to add acid I simply use natural juice from lemons or limes.

2) The tool is the heat: The point of jam-making is to eliminate the water out of the whole mix by evaporating it with the heat. The trick is how to do it quickly and effectively so the fruit doesn’t lose its natural flavor. We will go into more detail when I come to the method.

We’re going to talk about the “open pan” method only and not the vacuum vessel method, which I have only seen once. While I was in college I visited a jam factory with my friends in the food science major. (It was great to be the photo science major, you know. Everyone needed a photographer or videographer once in a while, so I got to stick my nose in their business–extra knowledge!) From my understanding this is the method where the fruit can be cooked at a lower temperature, supposedly to preserve the flavors, for commercial-scale jam-making. It was impressive but yielded not so good tasting jam.

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3) The Cooking Equipment: 

3.1) Wide flat-bottom pan that is not stainless steel. Your pan should be at least 4-5 inches tall. Once you put the fruit in you must have at least two inches of space above it in the pan. You can cook jam in a pot but only fill to about 2-3 inches from the bottom, no deeper. You don’t need to spend money on an expensive copper jam pan if you are going to make only a few jars a year. If you plan to make many more jars, then that may be worth it.

My recommendation is use a wide saucepan or a flat-bottom pot for now, just to see if you like making jam. If you find out that you like it, then invest in a copper jam pan (eBay is a good source to get a used but good quality copper pan). The point is to let the fruit touch the heat as evenly as possible,with not so many layers stacked up on top of each other, hence uneven heat reach.

3.2) Long wooden spoons: I shouldn’t have to explain about this. The temperature we’re going to deal with is beyond 218ºF, so no plastic and no nylon, please.

3.3) Rubber or silicone gloves or oven mitts:  You seriously need them! Maybe you want to add a mask or a pair of glasses. One of my friends, after I taught her how to make jam, went and bought a rubber apron and long gloves up to the upper arms, but I don’t have that apron, so I just scream occasionally when something splatters on me.

3.4) Jam jars and lids

I think we’re ready, aren’t we?

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1) Fruit of your choice As much as you want, based on what you want to end up with and what fits easily in your pan. For the beginner, avoid figs, pineapples and mangoes for now. Those are for the advanced jam makers. Also, we’re not talking about marmalade here.

I would say roughly a pound of fruit yields about 1-1/2 – 2 cups of jam. From now on I would use the metric system to calculate because we’re going to talk about percentages. I went through school in a country that uses the metric system and found that once you’re using percentages, it’s better to switch to this system so you don’t have to use a calculator in the kitchen.

I don’t use frozen fruit. I don’t use over-ripe fruit; both contain lower natural pectin. Freezing destroys the cell wall of fruit and that means it destroys the molecules of the pectin. That’s why frozen fruit, once thawed, becomes soft. I prefer fresh, just ripe fruits. I usually ask the farmers’ market vendor to only pick the fruit that “will be ripe the next day when you deliver them to me”. So they pick the slightly underripe fruit and I get them the next day. This is to ensure that I’ve got enough pectin in my fruit. But if you can’t get them that fresh, get the freshest you can but don’t stress. It’s okay, especially for the high pectin fruits.

 You need to prep the fruit. How so? Wash it is the first recommendation! Clean all the fruit, pick all the debris off, select the bad ones and toss ’em. Then prepare the fruit the way you would want to eat them plain. Such as, hull your strawberries, pit your cherries, plums, peaches, etc.

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I want apricot jam very chunky, so I just cut these in half.

You then cut the fruit into small pieces. You will need to decide now if you want your jam chunky or smooth. I like mine really chunky so I don’t cut them as small, and I also don’t crush them. I don’t peel the stone fruits either. This is the reason why I only use organic fruit–so I can use the skin. They become treasures in the jar. I only cut my big peaches into 8 pieces, apricots I halve them or maybe quartered if I want it more smooth (for my chocolate fillings). I usually don’t cut my strawberries unless they are unusually large.

Weigh your finished fruit in grams.

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2) Organic Granulated Sugar  You want about 30-50% of the finished fruit weight for a low-sugar jam and 50-75% for a sweet jam. I would say for a beginner, start with 50%, and you won’t go wrong. Meaning you won’t get a surprise when you open the jam jar and get fermented jam or your jam didn’t set. At 1 : 2 ratio of sugar : fruit, you should get the jam that maintains the flavor of the fresh fruit and sets easily.

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3) Lemon or Lime juice   Roughly about 1- 2 teaspoons (or more) for each 500 g of fruit.

I zest the lemons first before I juice them. I added the zest in both blueberry and apricot jams just to tie both of them together with the flavor of the lemon zest.

I zest the lemons first before I juice them. I added the zest in both blueberry and apricot jams just to tie both of them together with the flavor of the lemon zest.

4) Sea Salt or other additional flavors

It would be a very long list if I listed the possibilities of the “additional flavors” here, but be creative. Examples: sea salt, hibiscus flowers, fresh basil, fresh tarragon, rosemary, nutmeg, vanilla pod, citrus zest, chocolate powder, ginger, cardamom, candy ginger, honey, wine, flavor liqueur, whisky, brandy, rum…you see what I mean.

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1) (optional) Macerate the fruits This is the traditional French method. You cover the fruit in sugar (dry) overnight (in the refrigerator, unless you live in Alaska) to draw the fruit juice out. This method draws out the pectin as well but I only do it when I want to maintain the shape of the fruit.

Fruit that has been through maceration will have a slightly tougher skin because the sugar already replaced the water in the contents and made them stronger. Once in a while I do it to strawberries, but definitely do it for strawberry conserve or cherry conserve, but rarely to the preserves, especially never do it with any stone fruits, except apricots.

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2) Before you start, sterilize the jars in the oven. I know people usually boil their jars, but I bake them in the oven at 225º for 20 minutes. I put them in before I start the jam. I wash the jars and let them dry, then put them in a tray and pop them in the oven and start the oven at the same time as I start my jam.

2) Before you start, sterilize the jars in the oven. I know people usually boil their jars, but I bake them in the oven at 225º for 20 minutes. I put them in before I start the jam. I wash the jars and let them dry, then put them in a tray and pop them in the oven and start the oven at the same time as I start my jam.

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Wash the jars, then bake to sterilize.

I give my oven 5 minutes to get to temperature and increase the oven time to 25 minutes. This way you won’t break the glass jars because you changed the temperature too rapidly. Once your alarm clock goes off, turn the oven off and leave the jars in there until you’re ready to can.

The lids need to be sterile as well, but I only use hot water poured over the lids and let them dry, but if you want to bake them, do it only 5 minutes toward the end of the jar-sterilizing process.

3) Let’s jam them!

If you macerated the fruits, you can start at high heat right away. If you didn’t, put the fruit, sugar and add the lemon or lime juice in the pan and start with medium heat. You will gradually see the juice start to come out of the fruit. This is the process of drawing pectin and juice out of the fruit. You don’t want to blast the heat since the high heat at this point not only draws less pectin out but also destroys the pectin structure. Stir to make sure that every piece of fruit touches the same heat.  This is why you don’t want fruit too deep in the pan.

All stages of jam making. Starting from top left

All stages of jam making. Starting from top left

Once you start to see the mixture bubbling, increase the heat to high, stirring occasionally just to make sure that the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom. You don’t need to stir the jam at all times because the heat will do the work for you, and too much stirring might interrupt the bonding of the pectin.

Put a few small porcelain plates in the freezer. You will need them later.

The contents will bubble furiously at some point, foaming to almost overflowing in the pan. This is when you turn the heat down just a little, but keep it at a bubbling boil (not a rolling boil). You want to nurse the bonding and not interrupt it. Keep the heat to that level, high – medium high, until the contents reduce.

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This is when you can add the dry additional flavors. You might want to use a thermometer but I don’t normally use it. Stir occasionally, remember you need a glove, even if you only stir the jam once in a while! It’s going to throw out a splash. I can guarantee that much. This is why my friend needs a rubber apron…LOL…You can lower the heat just a touch if it’s too much like an active volcano.

Foam: what should you do with it? Leave it, I say. If you are bothered by it, you can skim it a little, or adding a teaspoon of butter would solve the problem. I just let it boil.

You don’t want to lower the temperature too much. We’re making jam, not fruit stew, so you have to remember that. The faster they cook, the better they taste. You also don’t want to overheat them as well because overheating destroys the pectin. When you see the contents reduce, then add any liquid additional flavor.

Once you see the contents in the pan thicken, take a plate out of the freezer and drop about a teaspoon of the jam on the cold plate. Let it sit for one minute. Then draw your finger through the contents. If the surface wrinkles and the tiny Red Sea that you parted on the plate doesn’t close in  that fast, then your jam is ready.

I actually take advantage of having cool jam on the plate to taste-test it. Then I add more lemon juice, sugar or salt as I prefer. This is your only chance, because your jam is almost ready. I’m making the jam for my own palette, unlike some other jam makers that make jams to preserve the taste of the original fruit as closely as possible. (I don’t get it why they don’t just eat the fresh fruit.)

So, I have no shame in manipulating my bing cherry jam to mimic the taste of sour cherry jam (if that year I can’t find any sour cherries) by adding a lot more lemon juice. In fact, I typically make my jam with less than 50% sugar. My husband and I don’t like too-sweet jam. The result is my jam tastes very fresh but doesn’t keep as long as jam with more sugar. I don’t really care because my jams will be gone in about a year anyway.

4) Bottling: Take the jars out of the oven and fill them with your jam. I use a measuring cup with a spout to fill the jars. CAUTION: EVERYTHING IS EXTREMELY HOT. The finished jam normally is at 218-222ºF and the jars are about that temperature as well, so BE CAREFUL and keep the burn cream or Neosporin nearby.

I’m making two tone jam so I filled the jar only half with the first jam, Patterson Apricot, then finished it with the blueberry jam.

I’m making two tone jam so I filled the jar only half with the first jam, Patterson Apricot, then finished it with the blueberry jam.

Fill the jars all the way to the top rim. The more you fill, the less oxygen in the jar, and that extends the storage time.Basic Jam Making for Beginner - NO Pectin by The High Heel Gourmet 16

Close the lid tight as soon as you’re done filling.  Some people turn the jars upside down to sterilize the lid. Don’t do it too long or the seal won’t be as strong.

I also don’t give the jars a water bath anymore.

You had better not disturb the jam in the jars until they cool down and, just to be on the safe side, leave them un-touched over night. Give the pectin some time to do its magic.

If you are fancy like me, put labels on…so you don’t need to open every bottle to taste the jam just to find out what’s in it. I actually began labeling them so my husband couldn’t use THAT lame excuse to open every jar of my jam to find out what they were. 😉

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Natural Apple Pectin

1) Get a bag of organic Granny Smith apples, and chop them up with seeds and skins.

2) Put them in a pot and add water to a level that covers the fruit.

3) Juice lemons; the ratio is about half a lemon per one apple.

4) Boil at medium – medium high for 45 minutes to an hour. Add water if you need to.

5) Let it cool in the pot.

6) Strain the contents by putting them in a sieve and letting it sit overnight. Don’t squeeze. Don’t push. Just let them gently drip, or you will get an apple-flavored pectin. You don’t want that.

7) You can boil the strained liquid to reduce the amount to half, and then can it.

You never know the exact amount you’ll need to use, so don’t pour the whole can into your jam pan. Do it little by little, adding it when you can’t get your jam to set. I add it about a quarter cup at a time when using my big jam pan, which cooks about 7-10 lbs. of fruit.

These are the fruits that most likely need added pectin (from my experience only, so there some varieties of fruit that I have never jammed, hence I don’t know level of pectin in those fruits)

– Pineapple

– Mango

– Thompson grapes (just slightly)

– Concord grapes (only sometimes)

– Guava

Enjoy your independence jam making and your freedom from commercial yucky jam with loaded of pectin and preservative. Happy Independence Day from The High Heel Gourmet!

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319 thoughts on “Basic Jam for Beginners, All Natural, Low Sugar, No Pectin Added

  1. Dear Mira,
    it’s a really great great article, detailed and helpful. Making jam with passion …unfortunately, where I live blueberries are very expensive. but this summer I made apricot jam, the color was so beautiful…I started making jam from seasonal fruit about a year ago may be more…I use my mom recipes that she got also from her mother and so on….They never used any pectin..believe it or not the world pectin is new for me. I knew about it 2 months ago while making Quince jam (I am really ready for any comments regarding quince jam). So, I would like to ask few questions.
    Does pectin affect the taste of jam, shelf live? is Pectin not recommended to be used even if it’s organic? What do you think of bio Agare Agare for Jelly?
    When adding flavors like cinnamon, ginger or vanilla… to jam, how do you determine amount ?
    Sorry, So many Questions…but, after I red your article I felt relief because I found the right person to share my tiny experience about jam.
    I will be pleased to hear back from you.

    Thank you very much


    • Organic pectin is ok to use but it would lessen the intensity of the fruits. I use apple pectin only when I work with fruits without it’s own natural pectin.

      You add additive little at a time first until I learn the right amount.

  2. Hi, I find this article very helpful – thank you! I am wondering if you can substitute sugar with honey or maple syrup and what would be the ratio? Also, what fruits do you use the apple pectin? Thanks again!

    • You can substitute them with honey or maple syrup but I can’t tell you the ratio because all honey and maple syrup are also different.

      Look up for the list of low pectin fruits on Google for a start if you are not so sure. From my experience pineapple is a must the rest I could manage but I like looser jam.

  3. Hi, I find this article very helpful – thank you! I am wondering if you can substitute sugar with honey or maple syrup and what would be the ratio? Also, what fruits do you use the apple pectin? Thanks again!

  4. Thank you for this post. I have been making jam for 2 years using this recipe from memory. I love that it is so easy. We have several fruit trees and we find organic berries at the 99 cent store for 99 cents. So my husband comes home with cases of fruit. It all started with blackberries. We just ate the last jar dated 8/15 and it still tasted great. I stumbled across your site again because I was looking for a recipe for pomergranate jelly, no pectin. We have 5 bushes full of fruit. Can you help?

    • I am not as experienced in the jelly as much as the jam. I remember a few tricks
      – acid, lime or lemon juice usually in a higher percentage than jam and add it together with fruits.
      – squeeze, you need to really mush and squeeze the fruits before filter the pulp. This is to extract the pectin.
      – Temperature, you need to boil the fruit acid and sugar until bubble then mush and squeeze DO NOT let it cool. You boil it again right after straining and reduce it down and it is going to set AFTER you reach the jamming temperature.
      -Sugar, keep it high. I used sugar 65% of fruit weight at the lowest.

      That’s all from my note.

  5. Hello again!
    I found organic peaches at an unbelievable price so I bought a bunch to jam. They ended up being very sweet and not as peachy tasting as I would like. I had 8 cups cut up and I usually do sugar at 1/3 to 1/2 ratio. So I would need at least 2.25 cups for a 1/3 ratio of sugar but I am afraid it will be too sweet. I plan on adding lime juice to flavor and as my acid and I usually add some cider vinegar as well. I intended to also use crystallized ginger but am now afraid that will just be more sweetness.
    I thought maybe I could use dried hibiscus flowers but have never used them before.
    I don’t think I can go below 1/3 ratio of sugar for preserving purposes and thickening. Any other flavoring thoughts to keep this from being too sweet? I could grate Granny Smith apples to cook into it but don’t think they would add enough sour.
    I know you will have some great options.

    • I actually well known for my peach jam. I did it differently than most because I cut peaches in big chunks. For one large peach, I cut it to 16 pieces. I only use sugar salt and lemon juice. That’s it. I think peach is so mild in taste. To let the flavor show through, I can’t add so much strong flavors but I can make it interesting with texture. I sometime add champagne or Marsala wine. These are for yellow peaches. White peaches are even harder. Once you boil them, then disintegrate and at then end they are just pulp. I usually pair them with raspberry but separate the layer.

      • Just to follow up on this thread. I ended up using lime juice and zest and hibiscus with candied ginger as a background flavor. I did add a little grated Granny Smith apples to help with the set and cider vinegar to cut the sweetness. It turned out really good.
        I am now a bit intrigued with hibiscus.
        I was able to find more prganic peaches and they had stronger peach flavor so I made a second batch.
        In previous years I always added warm spices(cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla) to my yellow peach jam. I have made white peach jam with lavender and nutmeg and was happy with the result but you are correct it does not turn out chunky(OK for me).
        Next year if I get flavorful peaches I will try a straight up version like yours with just lemon and salt which I always use.
        Thank you for keeping on this Q&A section.

      • Yes, I am now obsessed with hibiscus. I used the dried flowers. I don’t have access to fresh flowers and would not know how to work with them.
        I steeped them in the juice that came from heating the peaches and sugar. I didn’t have time to make the jam before the peaches would go bad so I cut them and brought them to a boil with the sugar and lemon juice and stored that in the refrigerator for a few days until I could complete the jam process. To get the juice to steep the dried hibiscus I strained out a cup or more of juice and heated it to a simmered and then poured it over the dried flowers. I let it steep for a couple of hours. I then added it to taste to the rest of my jam mixture. You could steep in hot water but I didn’t want to dilute my flavors at all.
        Next year if I find really flavorful peaches I am going to make some of your peach jam version. I love experimenting with different flavor options.

  6. Thanks for your nice detailed instructions. What is it about figs that you say they are more suitable for advanced jam makers? I grow a lot of figs and have had decent success but am looking for ideas to improve my results. Also, do you ever use vinegar as a source of acidity?

    • It’s has less pectin and has more seeds. Sometimes with less sugar the way I do to achieve the “typical” result, like store bought jam, isn’t that easy. Also each varieties of fig contain different amount of pectin too.

      I used to use fig+balsamic+caramelized onion+chili. It turned out nicely.

      I’m so envy at your fig tree. I am now living in Switzerland where figs are sold by piece 😭 not by weight. (About $2/piece 😭😭😭)

      • Thanks for the reply and explanation. I am presently growing 350 varieties of figs, including one that originate at Ponte Tresa, Switzerland. You may wish to travel there some day as it’s a beautiful area based on photos I’ve seen and there are lots of figs growing around the area. I may end up using my pH meter and refractometer and, over time, fine tune some recipes for different varieties. I hope to avoid adding pectin.

      • Ponte Tresa is in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. I think the lake there still a part of lake Lugano. Yes, it is very beautiful there.

        Please keep in touch. If you email me, I can email you my contact info back to you. I’m very much interested in your project and might be able to give you ideas for cooking or jamming the figs.

        Please do not use pectin with figs. There are many high pectin fruits that will pair really well with figs. Figs have a very mild taste and should have a chance to show its beauty without the artificial contamination.

    • Mine last at least 6 months at home but my friends said her had mold after 3 months and another argued that hers lasted nearly a year (ewww 🤢). I think how do you spoon the jam out, how long do you leave the jar open and many factors are also should be taken into consideration.

  7. Hi! I have a beginner’s question: is there a step I need to complete to “seal” the jars? I’m actually planning to use these instructions to jar some of your curry pastes…

  8. Hi. I loved your blog. I was about to make apple jam and thinking about using jaggery. Do you think that would work?
    Last time( the only other time i made jam) , i used brown sugar and it worked okay. It was a little bit liquidy, more like apple butter. But that’s okay for me.

    Also, apple naturally has more pectin, right? So I am assuming it should set easily?

  9. Hi, I hope you do get to see this. I am making pineapple jam. Would you be able to help me with tips seeing that I do not want to use pectin? I made some but a family member found it too sweet. I used equal amounts of sugar to the pineapple. Also, its hard to find glass jars where I am and I wanted to here your sentiments about using plastic jars.

    • Plastic jar is very dangerous to put hot jam in unless you want to let the jam cool down then put it in plastic jar but in that case, you lose the purpose of preserving. You need to eat your jam in about 2-3 months and keep it in the fridge. If you are in the place where the glass jar isn’t available (in the forest or village in the jungle somewhere I guess) and also tropic climate, you can keep much less than 2-3 months, probably just one month. (I’m wondering if the plastic jars are available why glass jars are not? Weight issue? Are you on island?)

      Now to the pineapple jam. Pine apple have high acid which on it own would kill the pectin. I normally use 50% of sugar to fruit weight and add my own extract of apple pectin (recipe also in the post).

  10. I am diabetic and I know that sugar plays a huge role in jam. I am also all about no processed, less chemicals with my food. Can you substitute stevia in place of sugar?

    • Unfortunately Stevie Cantieni hell the jam to “set”. I recommend the freezer jam instead of regular jam. You toss fresh fruits with stevia, then put them in the jar and freeze them. When you need to use jam, you thaw them out at room temperature. This type of jam will be quite liquid. If you need to have a more solid jam, just add gelatin or agar agar (just a touch).

  11. Great post! Thanks for this! I read this post today before making tomato jam (the second time ever in my life that i make jam) and it turned out perfect! Cheers from Helsinki!

  12. Great Article, thanks you are not selfish it is refreshing to see people sharing the knowledge. could you tell me the expected shelf life of you jams?

    • Normally they’re gone within a year but I’ve got friends who keep them over 2-3 years. These are the 50% sugar. If you use less percentage of sugar, don’t keep them longer than a year, I think. (Sorry I will start testing the shelf life and will give more info later)

  13. I followed your advice to turn the heat up higher from the start and I’m still having trouble with the wrinkle test. With raspberries there seems to be 2 distinct parts. There’s the chunky part that looks wrinkled right away and then there’s the clearer, juicy part that separates and spreads out on the plate. That part never wrinkles. I’m not sure how to tell when the jam is done because of this. It wasn’t so much of a problem when I used to use an immersion blender, it all kind of had the same consistency after blending. I’ve come to like this chunkier jam though so I’d prefer not to use the blender.

      • Somewhere between fully gelled and syrup. It flows but if you spread it on toast you can turn it upside down.

      • Hmmm…really hard to tell without picture. In theory if you want it gel more you might have to cook it longer. So, it blends the gel part with the syrup but I think this is your preference. If you like it this way then it’s ok. If you like it thicker then you cook it a little more. There is nothing wrong about jam. I put salt in mine.

        BTW I also like mine chunky too. I hate the smooth jam.

    • If I recall properly my raspberry jam was looser than my stone fruit jams. I only did raspberry once a few years ago.
      You can use it as an ice cream sauce if too thin for jam. Or add balsamic vinegar and herbs for a meat sauce. Or add vinegar and oil for a salad dressing.

      • Hello HHG!
        I have a question about using fresh lavender. If I use fresh lavender flower buds in jams can they be left in the finished product or should they be wrapped in cheesecloth and removed?
        Also, I found another website that used your oven method to sterilize jars and doesn’t use a water bath to process just like you. I thought it was interesting to see it is a technique used by other people. I believe this person lives in Scotland.
        My first batch of jam this year was yellow peach, cinnamon, ginger with butter and vanilla accent. Confession; I almost burned it on the bottom of the pan but it was OK and may have caramelized the flavor a bit. The jam tastes delicious to me so it didn’t matter in the end.
        Thanks for all your tips!

  14. Also, if you boil the jam for too long can that cause jam that doesn’t set properly and has a more syrupy texture? This last batch of raspberry jam at one point it seemed very thick but when I did the plate test there were chunks that wrinkled and there was also a clear, red juice that spread out. I cooked it a while longer and ended up with jam that didn’t set well. At that point I had been cooking it for quite a while which is why I’m wondering if I cooked it so long I ruined the pectin. When you do the wrinkle test if there’s chunks that wrinkle but also has liquid does that mean it’s done?

    • It’s causing from the jam didn’t get heat properly at the start. The bubbling furiously stage will spread the pectin all over the content. If you didn’t reach that stage for at least 3-5 minutes in the beginning, the jam will have an uneven texture at the end.

      Cooking at a too high temperature after the stage above could cause the pectin bond to break a little but with the stove in the normal home or apartment, especially the electric stove, you rarely get there. So cook the fruits as you mean to hurt them, boiling furiously is the stage we need at the beginning. Then reduce the heat after 5 minutes to the less bubbling stage but still bubble all over. If the bubbles break here and there the heat is too low. To be on the safe side, look at the size of the bubbles. They needs to get smaller first before you reduce the heat.

      Then keep lowering the heat as it gets higher temperatute. This is the point when it reach jam stage.

      Chuck that wrinkle then liquid, fix by turn UP the heat until they blend at the bubble stage.

  15. During the initial heating step, if I keep stirring the raspberries while at medium-high heat then it never bubbles. If I let it sit it eventually bubbles. Do I stop stirring eventually or do I turn it up to high before it bubbles after a certain time?

  16. You have alot of comments. Anyways, I like jelly or jam, I like peanut butter. But lately I’ve been trying to find jelly or jam that does not ‘add’ any pectin. I’m fine with anything that is naturally in the food that I ear, but I don’t like added ingredients that I don’t need. I have slower metabolism and I have to be careful what I put in my body for long term reasons. So , my questions are do you actually sell bottles of jam that you make, and/or are there any jams that do not add pectin that are for sale in the supermarket. P.S. Making my own homemade jam is not on my things to do list, which is why I’m asking. Thank you!

    • I will be selling them online (ship in Europe first then the world later) by the beginning of next year but limited supply due to the availability of the fruits. The first batch would be Swiss local fruits. I will expand that line later but still encourage you to cook your own though. I might try to do a video so I can teach better. I start my food business (the anti-capitalism slow food franchise) so I can demonstrate an ideal kitchen. My philosophy is still encourage people to cook their own food as much as possible. I want to help assist people to eat healthy and have supplies of ‘safe’ foods (local foods that hasn’t been contaminated by chemical or GMO) and ‘safe’ condiments that ease the tedious of cooking at hand but not to monopolize in food industry. So my own production line will not be industrialized. All items will be cooked like in your own home, in a small batch.

      Keep following this blog. I will announce my business near October (probably the jam won’t be available yet until January though).

  17. Thanks for posting this information. I also use your method for making jam. Some folks thought I was nuts to spend that much time with the process. I did buy some pectin this year to try it with a rhubarb pineapple jam but chickened out. Made it my old fashioned way and it is delish.

    • Well, I don’t think making your own jam is nuts or tedious at all, especially when the result is many times better even compare to the gourmet jam at farmer market because you can make it exactly the way you like.

      BTW Rubarb and pineapple is tough. They both had low pectin but congrats that you can get it the way you like. Mine usually came out a little syrupy but I’m ok with that. I use a little less heat for this pair so they have more time to release the pectin.

  18. Wow!! Such language! A brain tumor or other body part tumor? If you’re fat, exercise? Obviously you’re not obese and haven’t gotten a brain tumor yet but maybe someday you will. You should have stayed in Thailand and developed your blog there. How insensitive and crash for such a young person with the privilege of living in the USA. Also, your grammar is horrible and hard to understand. You need a lot of work before you can call yourself American.

    • Are you yourself obese or possibly have a brain tumor? Either way, whether I have brain tumor or not in the future, I don’t think is up to you to determine, so I don’t think I should thank or curse back at you for your ill wishes. Same goes for the comment about where should I live or develop my blog. I decide that, sorry. If you think living in the US is a privilege, probably paying US taxes should be considered a privilege too. I’m going to be paying that from Switzerland (where I choose to live) from now on. I have every right to call myself an American from time to time since I’m holding a US passport and pay taxes to the IRS but as I have a dual citizenship I also have a high regard for both countries.

      Although I disagree with you, I apologize for my “wrong grammar” that makes it “difficult to read” for you. My native American editor had done his best to correct my grammar but it still shows through enough for you to detect that…excellent!

      Thanks for your very “sensitive” comment. Hopefully you can find peace and happiness some day somehow. I wish you the best. Even though I don’t need to approve your comment and let my readers see what kind of people I’m dealing with sometimes, but I feel very sorry for your frustration so I hope this helps release some pressure from whatever it is that makes you so aggressively rude and hostile.


      • Hello HHG…I just wanted to say I think you are an amazing chef…your style, creativity and passion for food is really wonderful and your cooking/jamming looks so joyful and artistic. You were my inspiration to try making jam, and I have had such fun with that. I love your emphasis on going all natural with jam. I think you are a very charming (and unique) writer, and I personally think your English is very sweet. I feel bad that someone was so hateful and rude to you. I am embarrassed as a US citizen that someone is so horrible with no reason whatsoever! All my best, Jennifer

      • She was trippin! Thanks for the knock up blog. I’m making this fig jam rn. Making in a stainless steal pot as I have no other available. It’s so sweet already. Should I add sugar anyways? Does that help with the preservation for a lengthy time ? Advise?

    • Before you start selling, you should make several batch for yourself, friends and family to eat first. From my experience, if you want to sell something, you should have a clear idea how are you going to marketing your product first. Knowing how to make something isn’t good enough to have a successful business. And before you can say that you know how to make something, you will have to make it over and over again until you know all the possible mistakes and how to fix them.

      Unfortunately a successful business doesn’t start from a good product anymore but start from a good marketing and business plan in this century.

  19. Hello.. Re: the Apple Pectin. I am wanting to make a Blackberry/Apple jam and you mention when straining the contents from the Apple Pectin: “Don’t push. Just let them gently drip, or you will get an apple-flavored pectin. You don’t want that.” Can I push the contents through to enhance the apple flavor in my jam? Or is there some reason that it is not best to do this?

  20. Hi there – I find this blog most refreshing.
    However, you state: “Close the lid tight as soon as you’re done filling.
    What about the build-up of the condensation on the inside of the lid? Will this not interfere with the keeping quality of the jam?

    • The lid and the bottle will be at the same temperature or in a very close range. Also you leave so little space for air in the bottle too. I fill my bottle up to the brim. Those are the factors that won’t allow the condensation to happen inside the jam jars.

      • Thank you for your reply and greetings from your homeland!
        I am using Le Parfait Jars with rubber seals and I am sure it will make a terrible mess.
        However, I’ll try it the next time.
        In the past four or five years since I started with my papaya-ginger low sugar (coconut palm sugar) plus Whisky jam, I only ever had one jar going off. even without proper canning!

      • With the temperature of the jam when it goes in the jar, it hard for the bacteria to survive. I use to make small batch just for myself I don’t even sterile the jars or lid (I know lol). I start doing it more cleaner when I give my jam away because I just thought I should. So, I try my best to make it less complicated as possible.

  21. Hi, firstly thanks for the detailed method and pictures!

    I have a question about the jars you use. Are they ‘one piece lids’ and if so have you ever experienced over tightening them and thus not being able to release air / pressurise properly?

    Secondly the batch I just prepared foamed but it was only a small layer (say 1-2cm). Is this a sign something went wrong? I used about 1.5kg of plums, 500g of peaches, 50% sugar, 8 tsp of lemon juice. It was done in a preserving pan similar size to the one in your photos.


    • Don’t worry, some fruits would foam more than the others. If you don’t want to skim the foam add a teaspoon of butter should help fix the problem.

      The lid I used are single lid and there is no such thing “over tightening” you have to soak the lid part in hot water if you can’t open, tap the bottom of the bottle, you will be just fine.

      • Thank you!
        I got a bit paranoid when other articles I read say you can see the metal concave and shouldn’t tighten the lid too tight. These are only ~53mm lids and are quite sturdy so I couldn’t tell if they pressurised or not.

  22. Can you tell me how you make Organic Homemade Apple Jam without added sugars. I want to make it for my boyfriend as a surprise!

      • Looking for apple butter, perhaps 🙂
        Great resource here…I am currently making peach/apple jam in New Zealand. The batch on the stove, at the moment, contains a large amount of whole peaches, with green apples’ foraged cores and skins, and a bit of honey. The apple is still doing its pectin thing in its own pan. Will let you know how things go tomorrow?

  23. My day is made! Thank you for the detailed info. Visiting the market tomorrow to try my first batch. I have a feeling this will be a hit! Some African inspired flavours maybe. Summer time in S.A.

  24. Tx for taking the time to get into details!
    I’m going to try making apple jam in Holland. These are local garden apples.

    Do I need to peel them?
    Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of lime juice? The apples are a bit sour.

    I’m going to start with a doz medium sized apples for now as this is the first time!
    Any advice would be helpful!


    • Yes, but that would be a marmalade and the process is slightly different. You need to keep all the seeds and membrane of the citrus in a bag, soak the rinds and the juice together over night before you start boiling (with the bag of seeds of course). Then you need to squeeze the bag to extract the pectin out and put the pectin back in the pan.

    • Marmalade is using different process than berries and stone fruits.

      Here this is how you do.
      1) Squeeze the juice, keep all the membrane and seeds, put them in a clothes bag. These will be the source of pectin.
      2) Slice the rind to the size you want, scoop all the white part out as much as possible. Discard the white part from the rind. They are bitter.
      3) Soak all the juice, membranes and seeds bag and sliced rind together over night. If the juice is too sweet, add lemon juice. Squeeze the membrane bag, extract the pectin.
      4) add sugar, 50% of the weight of rinds and juice is the maximum amount of sugar you should be using. It helps gel faster if you use 50%.
      5) Boil over medium high heat poke or squeeze the membrane bag after the content reach the boil for 5-10 minutes. Boil until the juice reduce, do the wrinkle test. Once it reach then gel then you can package it.

  25. SO….I made grape jelly. Recipe called for equal parts sugar to juice, no pectin (I know thats sweet) did everything as noted (220 degrees). Jelly is a little running. Tried the suggestion of putting it in the frig to see if it would become thicker, didn’t work. I don’t want to discard it and don’t want to add more sugar. Maybe there just wasn’t enough natural pectin….I don’t know what to do. Should I reheat it? If so, for how long? Thank you so much for your time.

    • I’m confused and need clarification.
      1) did you use the flesh?
      2) did you put lime or lemon juice?

      If you only use only the juice, there is no way that you can make grape jam gel without pectin.

      If you want to make grape jam without pectin. You need to put all the flesh, skin and seeds in a cheese cloth bag and boil them together with the juice and sugar. And of course add the lime juice or lemon juice to help extract pectin from the flesh. If you do all of it correctly, you should get the jam to gel, thick or thin depend on the type of grapes.

  26. I made this today- with peaches from the farmers market. I added a bit of grated fresh ginger and it was a major hit. A little too sweet this time but I was closer to 50%, next time I’ll add 40%. Thanks!

      • My two peach/nectarine based jams were too sweet this year at a 3:1 ratio(or close to that) of fruit to sugar. I guess the fruit was that sweet this year. I did a nectarine, candied ginger, cinnamon and a white peach, lavender, nutmeg. On the nectarine I only left the candied ginger in while cooking so it would kind of melt into the jam. I first thought that might be why it was too sweet but after making the white peach jam and it being too sweet for me I decided it was sweet fruit. I still like my spiced plum jam the best. I am going to try banana jam or butter soon as I have been reading recipes and they get good reviews. Plus you can make the banana jam in the winter!

      • I never make banana jam or butter. I’m from a tropic, we have banana all around, never thought of it. I did make banana candy though, coconut milk, banana and palm sugar.

        If your fruits are too sweet, add more lemon juice to change the taste.

      • Yes, I did add more lemon juice(I think I ran out) and even a little apple cider vinegar. The vinegar can help make a nice balanced flavor. Just add a little at a time and keep tasting.

  27. I tried the jam with pear chunks. Somehow I missed something because it ended up one hard mass. Where did I go wrong, Was the heat too much? It looked like the sugar burned. I had to throw it out, luckily just 1 kg of fruit. I forgot to test also.

    • I think you cooked pass the gelling stage. You can put thermometer in to watch the temperature or keep doing wrinkle test. Jam normally ready before it looks like jam. It usually look much more liquid than you expected. If you cook until it look like jam or until it reach consistency of jam in the hot pan, you will end up with soft taffy.

  28. Wonderful description of what should be so simple for commercial processors to do. Does anyone remember when Hero preserves were pectin free? They were soooo good, with just a trip to the market. Now they’re like flavored glue.
    Now to find the energy to follow your recipe (and find some black currants).

    • I don’t remember the brand but I remember when I was a kid in Thailand, the jams and preserves from US were so good especially the berries jams. They weren’t so sweet like the jams from the UK and so flavorful. When I finally moved here, they were all just sweet glue, so disgusting. I went through the time that there are half a dozen of jam jars just opened but can’t finish left in the fridge!

  29. Great article! I must get a copper pan! 🙂 Just a quick FYI on mango and pineapple jams. No additional pectin is needed. I have made both jams with only sugar, low sugar at that. They turn out beautifully. It’s the first time I’ve seen reference to them being a bit more complicated. I don’t want anyone to be scared off from making them. They are super easy, and incredible to taste. 🙂

    • Really?!?! What kind of mango are you using? and how ripe they are? I want to try it eventually.

      I tried with many different kind of mango that are available in Thailand and here in the U.S. too. The Mexican mango seemed to have the most pectin and the unriped has more pectin then the ripe one but they’re not going to gel like berries or stone fruits.

  30. Hi, I found your blog when I was looking for raspberry jam recipes. I love your explanation on jam making. I have been playing with jam making for a few years now making blueberry, strawberry and spicey plum. I leave the skin on the plums and they become like candy almost. With the plum I use a sugar and fruit ratio of 1 to 3 and it sets great.
    I too decided adding salt would help balance the flavors and am glad to find someone else who thought outside the (salt)box.
    I have yet to can my jam, instead I freeze it. I steralized my jars by filling them with boiling water and letting it sit for several minutes. But I think I will try your oven method. Boilng water seems to work well and I have not had any go bad in the freezer.
    Curious if you have tried freezing.

    • Nothing will go bad in the freezer 🙂

      I tried the freezer jam a few time but hasn’t nail it to the point that I want to write a blog about though. One thing I like a bout freezer jam is the amount of sugar can be so low, I used 20% one time and will try 15% next. I try to make jam for the diabetes relatives.

      Try the canning and you won’t have to waste the space in your freezer.

      • Tonight I made my spiced plum jam and tried your oven method to sterilize. Seems one lid has not vacuumed in to indicate it is properly sealed. Can I put that in a water bath? Should I open it first to reseal it before the water bath? I will have to do this tomorrow though.
        Actually I probably will still store my jam in the freezer as I am a bit unsure about the canning process and trusting myself on it. Though I did not leave much space in the jar to allow for expansion in the freezer. This my end up being an experiment in the end….

      • Sorry Mary for the late reply.

        When the lid isn’t vacuum, I normally use that jar first or keep it in the fridge. No you can’t water bath. It doesn’t make it sealed. You can’t open it to reseal. It happened sometime if you use old lid that the deal is already broken. Or the lid has been distorted.

        The rest that you already deal with the lids pop, you don’t need to store them in the fridge. It’s redundant. Safe your freezer for something else.

        If this is an experiment, then experiment in a way that make you more confidence with your canning skills. You are doing just fine.

      • :-[ Ack, false alarm!
        I had two inner lids stuck together on the jar I thought didn’t seal. I thought that might be the case the day I made it but when I checked the still hot jars the lids were stuck together tightly. When I opened the rings the other day the two lids slid apart and the bottom one had vacuumed down. So success on all jars!
        I have an offer for a trade on one of my jars but I love this spiced plum jam so much I might keep them all. This is also wonderful on ice cream.
        Today I found a great sale on organic nectarines and bought 5 lbs. I have to decide between making jam or hand pies after eating some fresh.
        Thank you, thank you HHG!

  31. Wow, what a great post, cool to see you have had 2 years of comments! Your hints and guidance are those of a process-oriented craftsperson eager to share her knowledge.

    My first attempt came out OK using slightly overripe sour cherries off the tree outside. Tastes great but it’s more like cherry glaze, which I will likely use on meat. Seems like the caramel is holding it together rather than the minute amount of pectin there was to begin with 🙂

    Thank you so much for your help!

  32. How much salt, if any, would you recommend for raspberry jam? I’d like to try it out but have no clue how much would be good.

    • Depend on how much jam you are making. If you make a five pound (about two kilogram of fruits), with 2.5 lb. of sugar, I will start with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste it and see if you want to add more.

  33. I don’t know if my last post made it to you. I was asking about the sugar. Do you just weigh the fruit and figure out what 30-50% of the weight is and that is how much sugar you add?
    Also, are you familiar with agar, agar? I have been using it in jam making because I detest the idea if pectin (really unhealthy). I was wondering (if you do know it) when you would add it and how much.
    Thank you

    • Yes, that’s how you measure the amount of sugar. 50% is the sure weight to make most jam gel. If you don’t like sugar you can try to reduce the amount and experiment to see if it gel on your own. Most summer berries you can reduce the amount of sugar down to 35-40% and it sure will gel but not the stone fruits.

      Ask yourself why you feel the need to put Agar Agar in your jam? To make sure it gel? to get more volume? What is it and why?

      Agar Agar is another extract cell walls of algae. I use it to make jelly sometime but I never use it to make jam.

      Jam in my mind is the purity of the fruits and its own pectin that is readily available . I don’t want to contaminate it with anything else that would loosen the flavors. If you are not sure that the fruits you are using has enough pectin to gel, I provide the way to extract pectin form apple at the end of the post. I rather use that instead of adding Agar Agar.

      The other successful way to ensure that your jam will gel is to pair the high pectin fruits with the lower pectin fruits.

  34. This could be the dumbest question yet but I want to make sure I get this right. When you say 30-50% sugar, do you just weigh the fruit and figure out what 30-50% of that would be? This is really important re: the “pectin” thing.
    Also, I have been using agar agar to thicken. Do you know anything about it? If so, what is your opinion in general and when it should be added? Pectin is certainly far from natural and unnecessary. It also lessens the creativity. Its a “fast-track” like so much of what we do in our cooking now!
    Thank you.

  35. Beautiful blog post! I loved all of the pictures and detailed instructions. Question: My son is on a restricted diet and can have only certain types of sugar. Do you think Coconut Palm Sugar would work the same way as regular sugar for creating the jam? It’d be a nice sweet treat to mix in his special “desserts” every once in a while. Thanks!

    • Yes it does work the same way but you might need more than 50% of the fruit weight. I normally don’t use pure Palm sugar but I mixed it with regular sugar. If you want to use pure Palm sugar start with Palm sugar weight 60% of fruit weight and see if it jells.

  36. Thank you so much for writing this. I am just starting out home preserving and made my first jam yesterday from the Ball Blue Book recipes and I wasn’t impressed. I don’t mind using sugar but this blueberry lime jam was just sickly sweet. I’m looking to make moderate sugar high flavor natural jams and preserves so I can enjoy the essence of seasonal fruits year around. You answered many of my questions and gave me the courage to experiment. So many preserving books harp on following recipes exactly. I can tell I will enjoy making jams preserves and chutneys but I want it to be like my sour dough bread baking where I get creative. Oh and I love your oven sterilizing idea. Are there any good books on jam/preserves making that you recommend?

    • I don’t use any book or recipe for jam. I would go to the market and get creative. If you already read this blog, you already know all the basic you need. The rest is you.

      If you want ideas, flip through some Jam recipe book to see how other people mix the fruits together to make jam once in a while. I still don’t know which book would be good for it. I haven’t look at anyone book. I’m not being arrogance or anything but jam making is the spontaneous cooking.

      If I read the recipe of blueberry and pear jam but I had gone to the market and there was no pear, that’s not going to stop me from making blueberry jam. So why bother reading it.

      • That’s how I do sourdough these days. I just use recipes mostly for new ideas and or a rough guide when I’m learning something new. You don’t sound arrogant at all. The real fun in cooking is to get creative with what’s in season and make something delish.

        Tomorrows project it going to be spicy mango chutney with fresh coconut. I get the coconuts free here because many people don’t know how to husk them and they just put them to the curb.

        Thank you once again, I’m so glad I found your blog early in my learning preserves making.

      • Sourdough is Art. Jelly and Jam making is science. Follow the blankin; tested recipe before you are responsible for someone getting sick or worse. Botulism is rare but most often happens when some newcomer to the craft gets ‘creative’. At least buy yourself some litmus paper and learn how to use it. Or, better still buy a digital pH tester.

      • Good point! It’s happened quite low with the jam because jamming is using high temperature, a lot of acid and a lot of sugar unlike preserving vegetable with brine.

        Litmus is a good idea. It’s cheap and you can buy it at Amazon. Dip it in the jam and see if the color changes to the acid zone. It would look yellow. If it does, you are good.

        What if it doesn’t?

        Even though, the temperature that make the jam reach the gelling point is plenty to kill the spores but it could be contaminated at the canning process and we don’t have enough acid to assist further preservation. We can do an extra pre-caution by putting the jars of jams that already filled with jam and the lids close on the jars but not tighten back in the oven at 250F for another 10 minutes.

      • I live in Florida. To me its amazing that there so many that don’t use the fresh coconuts here, but I’m not complaining 🙂

        I decided to go for broke and try making a low sugar mango jam. I used 10 mangos and only 3 cups of sugar. I added the juice and zest of 2 lemons. I also tossed in the naked lemon peels and the mango seeds. It took about 45 minutes of boiling to get it to the jell point. The naked lemon halves and mango seeds I removed once the mango was tender scraped the seeds and returned the scraped meat to the pot no strings attached all the strings stayed on the seed. I tasted the jam this morning and its absolutely wonderful.

        To Fred, You make a good point because canning safety is number one. I operated waste water treatment plants for 7 years so I have a strong back round in micro biology, pathological organisms, disinfection, and sterilization. I have a highly accurate digital PH tester and use it. My mango jam has a PH of 3.87 so is well in safe limits. I am keeping the water bath step in my canning for safety. For me jam making is both an art and science. Just like with bread making one does have to observe certain parameters.

  37. Thank you so much for this! I want to start making jam but for some reason (I have no idea why) I hate the idea of using pectin. It just seems complicated to me. And kind of unnatural. Thank you so much for explaining in so much detail and making this process so much more attainable for me! I’m going to start this today! And now I know that I can make jam with 1 pound of fruit or 5 pounds! I’m so excited!

  38. Hi ! Thank you so much for this brilliantly detailed recipe. I love your sense of humour too, the ‘if you don’t live in Alaska’ tip 🙂
    I just made it with apples, threw in a shandong pear and some concord grapes (macerating them in sugar overnight). It turned out to be absolutely delicious. I added a combo of sugar and honey and cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. It’s just so good. I’d love to make batches but good, organic fruit is quite expensive in India, most of it is exported. So I’d stick to small quantities, but hey I’m not complaining! Thank you once again for the alternative to water bath 🙂

    • Wow, apple, pear and Concord grapes…that’s a great combination. I love Concord grapes so much. I spent hours to take the seeds of the grapes and jam them with flesh and skins. Normally people would macerate the grapes and use the juice to make jelly but I want everything. My hands, especially under my fingernails would be purple for days.

      If you can’t find the organic fruits, you can soak the fruits in the water mix with baking soda too. It helps neutralized the pesticide on the skin.

      Happy jamming 🙂

  39. Hi Miranti, i just came across your blog and thank you very much for sharing this article on jam making.Its the most detailed and well explained one I have read!

    I recently had a black tea jelly at a neighborhood cafe and it reminded me of guava jelly that I loved eating as a child and I made a batch today and honestly its resembling flavored guava syrup:(.. Have you tried making this or would be great if you give me some tips on how to make it.
    I used about 10 moderately or over ripe guavas ( mistake I realised after reading ur blog) boiled them and strained for about 2 hrs to get 4 cups of guava juice. The recipe I followed asked me to add cup of sugar and 1 tbs of lemon juice for each cup of guava juice. I used about 3 cups of sugar and 4 tbs of lemon juice ans I ended up cooking it for almost 1.5 hrs to thicken and Iam guessing thats why it is the way it is! Please help..

    • I’m guessing you strain them because you don’t want the guava flesh, right?

      Here how I would do it. I would put all lemon juice and sugar in the mix while you boil guava. This is the way to get the most pectin out off guava because lemon juice would extract more pectin out and sugar would help secure it. From what I remember, it gel better with some green guava in the mix (but I never strain them). Once you boil them until it’s all bubbling until it boil down. I would assumed at the least 5 more minutes or longer, then you strain the flesh out. Do the wrinkle test. If it’s not reaching the set point, boil it slightly more until it’s set.

      I think the reason you have to boil down so long because you didn’t haven enough pectin in the juice.

      Let me know the result.

  40. Hello again! I just made my 3rd and 4th jam attempts tonight, and this time I used the square jars you like…they are very nice! I am just wondering do these special jars “pop” like the regular canning jars? I haven’t heard them pop and I can’t really tell if the lid is a little concave…My first 3 attempts were gingered pear preserves, but the 4th batch I made pear with cinammon, cardamom and raisins. My husband liked it a lot! I was wondering, the jars cooled off while making these batches tonight…is that why they didn’t pop? I guess they are safe if refrigerated/eaten soon? Just wondering! I used the Ball jam jars the first 2 times and they all popped. Thanks for your help!! Jennifer

    • Mine popped all the times. I think jars cooled off isnt a problem but jam cooled off would be. If it didnt pop. I would suggest keeping in thr fridge and eat it soon. Did you fill it full all tge way to the brim? If none of them pop, call the jar company. There might be something wrong with tge lids or the screw top.

      • None popped that I heard. I did fill them to the brim as you suggested. The jam was boiling hot, so that wasn’t the problem. By the time I filled the jars they had cooled off. So I can reuse these square jar lids from SKS? Maybe if I open one and it pops when I open it, does that mean they are sealed properly? Thanks so much for answering my questions!! 🙂

  41. PS forgot to mention another recipe to FIX it …. add 3/4 cup of SUGAR to every 1CUP of juice!!!
    I have the juice perfect as it is, to the taste, Iike how you explain the sugar absorbes the water to make it thick!
    Love working in the kitchen so THANKS in advance!

    • OMG that’s definitely too much!

      If you want to make jam, you can take seeds and skin out but if you only use juice and no pulp, you eliminated a lot of pectin out, so add sugar but also add lemon juice to balance it out. This way you get the taste almost the same. Go read the part about extracting natural pectin too. If you haven’t put powder pectin in, this is guarantee giving you a much better taste.

  42. OMG! There is a Jelly Whisperer!
    Maybe you can save the day (or batch!)
    A friend of mine let me pick her crab apple tree, I had made strawberry before but the freezer style. I have owned a strainer for a long time but finally bought the strainer screen for seeds.
    I love black raspberry jam, preferably the SEEDLESS. Can’t wait for next summer.
    So I looked at youtube and saw that crab apples had their own pectin. I followed the instructions but it turned out RUNNY. Also I had added a little too much clove and cinnimon.
    So I ran some Gala apples through the strainer and added it to the crab apples. I always used the juice not any pulp. I found a recipe that was for FIXING runny jelly. added a 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 Tblspoons of lemonjuice and 4 t. of powder pectin, it said to add more pectin if it was still runny well I added the entire box. NO LUCK it was still runny(IS). that was for 6 cups of juice.
    Can you help?
    Also can I use a laser thermometer?
    Maybe I didn’t cook it long enough? It said cook for a minute after it was a roaring boil.

    • You didn’t cook it long enough is the first clue. Normally jam would need to be cooked at the least 20-30 minutes which mean well 15-20 minutes AFTER the boiling point. If you had put the whole box of pectin in already, I don’t think the whole pot is still edible.

      If you carefully read my blog, you would understand that lemon juice is helping to extract the pectin out of the crab apples, sugar would help strengthen the bond of the pectin. If you had already done so but your jam still runny, you haven’t eliminate enough water out.

      Next time do the “wrinkle test”. If you want to use thermometer, you need to use the probe. The laser will measure the temperature on the surface not the actual content underneath. In the pot the highest temperature is at the bottom (that’s why we have to keep string). The top is normally the coolest part.

      I would suggest using the crab apples like a sauce. If you don’t want to throw the whole pot away but taste it first, if it still edible.

  43. I LOVE this post! So informative. Thank you!! I want to make jam so badly now! I have a question: If you do need to add pectin, at what point do you add it? I couldn’t find that in the instructions (or perhaps I’m simply blind to it).

    Thanks again for such a detailed and scientific explanation. I love how its vague enough for us to make our own tweaks to the ingredients! 🙂

    • Add it while you are boiling the fruits. I usually add it after the first wrinkle test. I would be like aweeee…shi….. It’s not jamming, then I pour pectin in of course never measure, my style haha. So, I can’t give the exact portion but for a whole medium size pan, two apples should be more than plenty. After that then I do another wrinkle test.

      My trick about jamming is do not be intimidated by it. It’s going to come out delicious no matter what! Yummy fruits and sugar, you can’t go wrong.

  44. Hi! I followed your recipe with blackberries and it turned out delicious! Thanks so much for the informative website and recipes!
    Can you tell me where you purchased the gorgeous copper jam pan?? Thanks!

  45. I am so excited to have stumbled onto your blog! I have used the oven method for years…just came up with it myself because it was so logical. I have been “baking” my jars at 250 degrees. My only comment (and you may say it somewhere on this excellent page) is to be sure you sterilize whatever you use to scoop the jam into the jars. I use a long-handled ladle and a funnel. I place these into boiling water with my lids before scooping. You solved one mystery for me and I am so grateful! One or two lids per season do not seal. I never worried about it, just used those jars first. Now I know that when I turned them upside down, I left them too long! I can’t wait to read through the rest of these comments. Your answers are so creative!

    • Good point! I should have added the Pyrex measuring cup in to the tray of jam jars when I bake them but I haven’t. lol oh well…I will have to do it next time.

      I stop using ladle and funnel because I use a lot of small jars. The funnel no longer fit so I use the Pyrex measuring cup to scoop directly from the the pot and pouring it in the jars is very convenience and cleaner than using funnel for me.

      You know I was so nervous when I first making jam and I bake the jars to sterile. I was measuring the temperature inside the jars using thermometer with the probe and cord. I used to use 250F but I found out that 225 is just enough for my oven because now I have convection. The temperature reach 212F inside the jars with in 5-8 minutes! Amazing. I should have test the time and temperature without using the fan too but I haven’t had time to do so yet. I made a note to do it in the next season for sure.

      Thanks Jenny

      • I see your point about the Pyrex. However, I still love my stainless steel funnel. Guess I could sterilize it in the oven, come to think of it. It fits well in any size jar and I have memorized the number of scoops from the ladle for each size. It just says that we are comfortable with what works for each of us!

  46. Have a vineyard of Muscadines and Scuppernongs that will be ready to pick in about 2 -3 weeks, so we’re gearing up with ideas for the harvest. The Scuppernongs seem to be quite a bit sweeter than the Muscadines. I am wondering if you have any tips or insight to offer about making preserves with either of these? Thank you so much for help!

    • The popular method is to use the juice and discard the flesh and seeds but I’m hardcore. I love the flesh and the skins if I know that the skins don’t have pesticide on them, I would sat down in front of a TV and half the grapes, take the seeds out then jam them that way.

      Old method is to macerate the grapes with sugar, salt and lime juice, leave them overnight and then filter the juice out. You start the jelly from that juice and stop the heat soon as the wrinkle test show the ready stage (normally down to half or 218-220 degree is reached depend on how hard you want your jam to set)

      Is Muscadine the same as Muscat? If that what it is, it has low pectin (most grapes has low pectin). I don’t know the other kind, Scuppernongs. You might have to do the apple pectin and get it ready. If the jelly reach 218 and don’t show any “wrinkle” then you can add the apple pectin.

  47. I am just discovering your wonderful blog and I love it! Preparing my jars in the oven is something I never thought of. The very worst part of canning for me was boiling those jars! I have 2 trees full of pears that I want to can! I have a question about adding lemon juice; do you add the rind and juice? I saved alot of lemon rind and froze it and am wondering if I could use it for my pear preserves? I have bottled lemon juice in the fridge and am wondering if that could be used also or should I just break down and buy more lemons and juice them? Thank you for your time and advice!

    • You can use them both in your jam. Commercial jam use something worst. They use citric acid! Lemon juice pre-squeeze is as good as fresh in term of acid level. The rind is just the flavor. It’s your call add it in or not. You can save them for marmalade.

      I have to find a want not to waterbath my jam jars because I used to have such a small kitchen with a very small sink and I hate the mess that the waterbath would have create in my kitchen.

      You can rest assure because I test and test my method (in the beginning I put thermometer in the jar just to find out what is the best sterile temperature for baking jars and how long the heat would reach sterile stage inside of the jar. This baking method would sterile the jars and lids perfectly.

  48. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. I would like to know how long would I leave the jars us side down to sterilize them.?

    • No more than ten minutes. 10 minutes is the key to kill 99-100% of the bacteria that would be killed in the sterile process at boiling temperature 212ºF or 100ºC. If you forgot and keep it there longer, the seal wouldn’t be working properly and you are risking another potential of exposing your jam to the bacteria later.

      Another trick is to fill the jam up to the brim, keep bottles and lids in the oven until you are ready to fill and keep the jam at 220ºF until the moment you close the lid and you don’t need to turn the bottle over at all.

  49. Just finished a small batch of plum jam. Not even sure what type of plums. There were 3 different types. I just mixed them and added a couple of peaches that were about to have to be thrown out. One of my jars isn’t going to seal so we’ll eat that one first. I only made three jars because I’m new to this canning business 🙂

    What jars do you use?

  50. I don’t understand how you preserve your jam if you don’t water bath it. I’ve been making jam for more than 30 years. I make my own pectin. While my Grandma kept her jam on the shelf after opening it, it will get moldy. And she opened one jar at a time. It didn’t last long. I don’t see anything different or new in your process, so I’m hoping you can fill me in. Also, it occurs to me, I’m wondering why you don’t water bath it? Learning something new is a great thing, so I’m very curious.

    • Water bath afterward isn’t necessary if
      1) You sterile the jars for at least 10 minutes to kill the bacteria inside the jars. Also keep the jars at above 212ºF up until the time of filling. (I did for 25+ minutes but in the oven)

      2) You fill the jar up to the brim leave little space for air (and bacteria) and the jam you fill into jars has temperature higher than 212ºF.

      3) Keep jam temperature above 212ºF (100 degree C) the whole time while filling. I kept the heat under the pan on low with a thermometer to warn me if the temperature of my jam drop under 215ºF in the beginning. Until I learn that with just the low heat underneath the pan while I filling the jars, the temperature would maintain at 220ºF for at the least 10 minutes, beyond 10 minutes, I am still good but the jam will be about 218-215ºF which is beyond sterile temperature. Then I don’t need thermometer these days.

      The water bath process is just to kill the bacteria that could come in touch to the jam, the jars or the lids during the filling. If you can control those factors so bacteria has the least chance to survive, then you are good.

      I keep my jars hot at 225ºF, high above boiling water temperature. I keep my jam at 220ºF by leaving the heat on. I fill jam up to the brim. My jars seal with one lid not the lid and the ring so, they are easy to close. Lids also at 225ºF.

      Once I close the jars there is almost no room left and if there is, the temperature is beyond sterile and would take normally up to 15 minutes before it cool down to 212 degree F, so it is safe.

      I never had a moldy jam or fermented jam. It’s just a simple science, not anything fancy.

      Also my blog about “basic” jam isn’t presenting anything new to the world. This is the same old core of procedure. I just simplified the old messy process, making it easier and cut down the unnecessary messy steps by using my knowledge in science to ensure that all the jams are “preserved” properly.

    • BTW all Jams need to be store in the refrigerator after opening because opening is introducing bacteria to the jam and in order to extend the life of your preserves, you then now need to store them in the fridge. You can’t just store them on the shelf anymore.

  51. Thank you for this post! While I do *some* canning, I have never tried jam before. But yesterday I was given a whole bunch of fresh-off-the-tree organic apricots and decided now was the time to try. I decided to combine the apricots with peaches because I love that combination. I found a lot of recipes but no one offered the explanation and clarity that you have.

    I separated the fruit into two batches (I had that many apricots!) and thought I would try something different and add candied ginger to the second batch. I am glad that I decided to make two! The first batch was less than glorious (but a good first effort – it set well and tastes ‘not bad’). I think it didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped because I left the skin on the peaches and they made the jam go dark. I also may have overcooked it (?). Learning from the first batch though, and again regularly reviewing your post as I went along, I peeled the peaches and cut down the cooking time by a few minutes. I also reduced the sugar amount from 50% to 30% and the second batch came out beautifully! It is a lovely golden-orange colour and the flavour is better than I’ve probably ever had from store bought jam. The ginger is subtle but adds a little spice.

    One thing I did a bit different was that I added grated granny smith apples directly into the mix for pectin. I was afraid if I waited a day to make your suggested pectin-blend that the apricots would be overripe. Surprisingly, this actually worked really well and didn’t alter the taste. Yay!

    Thanks again, this is an excellent break down of how to make jam 🙂

    • Did you do the wrinkle test or use the thermometer for the first batch? The over cook jam would be quite hard or stickier than the jam should be.

      I never take the skin out because my family loves the skin in the jam. (They fought over them!) I never pay attention to color as much but you could be right. It might cause the jam to be darker. I remember back in the day when I used non-organics fruits, I had to peel the skin out (due to the wax on the skin), my jam has blush, bright yellow, bright orange jams.

      Let me know how long you can keep the second batch outside the fridge. I’m curious. I kept the lower sugar jam in the refrigerator these days. The 35% can be kept in a “cool” place like basement over the winter just fine but I’m in CA with no basement and very warm summer. Some of the jam won’t make it through falls outside the fridge!

      You can add apple in your jam directly if you want them but peaches and apricots should have enough pectin on its own without added apple pectin but your instinct of adding apple to the mix when you make low sugar jam is a good call.

      Good luck making 3rd, 4th, 5th batch and many more 🙂

    • It’s depend on how sweet the fruits are really. I would try with 1/4 teaspoon per each cup of sugar (225g) first then taste it. That’s my ratio. I would start with one teaspoon per each 1kg of sugar. If the fruits are too sweet, then I need to add more. If the fruits are sour, that amount might be enough.

      • Can the salt be omitted? Also, can the jars be filled with boiling water? Would that work? Thanks.

      • Yes, salt is just my creation. You don’t have to use it. You can also sterile the jar with boiling water. That the old messy method. You just have to process the jars through 212F for at least ten minutes with that steady temperature. They boil the jars in the old time I think it is messy. You can put boiling water in but make sure that it stays at the temperature for at least 10 minutes.

  52. how much sea salt would I use? I’m experimenting and planning on doing one or two jars.. so a small batch LOL

  53. What do you mean when you say to boil until it reduces? How do I know if it’s reduced? About how long does that take?

    • It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, depend on the fruits and the whole amount. Some fruits would take only 20 minutes. You can obviously tell the volume of the jam that reduced down. The best way to tell is the wrinkle test. Once it pass the wrinkle test, you can put them in the jar.

  54. You seem very knowledgable and I have a question I just tried to make watermelon jam for the first time and I followed the recipe to a Tee it said that it would yield 10 half pint jars and I only got 5. Can you think of what could have caused that? Thank you

    • Watermelon has so extremely low pectin. I have a hard time get it to set. Another problem is so much juice. I have to guess your problem because I don’t really see the recipe. I think your watermelon has more juice than flesh compare to the owner of the recipe.

      I use to do watermelon jam, out of the whole watermelon, I’ve got only 18-20 oz of jam and I didn’t use pectin so it set really runny too.

  55. Hi Miranti,

    You have explained the science of jam precisely. Kudos to you.
    But I would like to share a bit of my experience with you. Out of the tropical fruits guava has maximum pectin. I am from India and my first recipe at age 12, was guava jelly. That was the first time I read why guava jelly forms – because of natural pectin. We had couple of guava trees in our backyard and growing up I have made lots of guava jam and jelly without knowing that you can actually buy pectin in stores. Because I never needed it.
    Again you have amazing blog. Cheers.


    • Thanks for reminding me of the Asian guava. I loves those so much. My dad has one tree at our house. The guava isn’t the pink kind like what I can find here which is from Mexico. Amazingly I almost can’t believe it, guava here don’t have as high pectin as the one in Asia. They’re pretty though. The jam would come out very beautifully pink.

      Do not buy pectin from the store. You don’t need that. 🙂

  56. This is a fantastic blog! You do an excellent job of explaining in clear terms, which is very helpful in learning this process. I have two questions please: Why do you not give the jars a water bath? Is it because you are maintaining the correct heat when filling the jars? Also, I noticed you are using beautiful jars, but the lids don’t seem to be the traditional two piece (lid/band) set. I would prefer to use lids like yours, but I’ve heard that they may not form a proper seal or that you may only use lids once. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks a bunch!

    • About the water bath, I don’t see the different result between water bath and without water bath. So, I stop doing it. I usually kept the heat at low on the stove underneath the jam pan while I fill the jar. I guess that’s maintaining the temperature of the jam when I fill the jars.

      I personally don’t like the two piece lid because it’s sealed too tight. You know, you take the band out and still have to find some tools to take the lid part out of the jar too. Beside, the Kerr jars are not so pretty. 😦 So, I used the victorian square jars instead. I can reused the lid and it pop when I opened, also pop down to close when the jam cool down. I think that’s enough. My jams usually don’t have a long life. They’re gone with in a year or the longest is two years.

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  58. Hi I’m new to making jam and went online today to have a look for recipes. I think yours look great and can’t wait to have a go. I have a question about the sugar….. Can I use rapadura sugar (also called panela) instead of regular sugar. I use organic raw sugar in my kombucha but I think they are mainly coloured white sugars instead of actual raw sometimes. I would prefer to use a mineral rich sugar like rapadura or coconut palm sugar, or even molasses sugar. Will it work?

    • Yes, it will work. Now the question is how many percent of water and all other sediments in the sugar itself. If you don’t know you can just do the test to see 1) how much dies it take for the jam to set? 2) how long the jam would last outside the fridge. These two are important for the jam making.

      You can try with 55% or 60% of the fruit weight and see the result. Then adjust the amount of sugar accordingly.

      Let me know the result too, please.

      • I have another quick question….. You mention not using stainless steel pans. Why is that? Can I use a cast iron wok to cook the fruit in? I have an enamel pan but it’s a bit on the small side and 2 stainless steel stock pots or the wok for doing this atm

      • You can use non-reactive cooking pot or pan but I wouldn’t use the cast iron. It could rust your iron or it might leach iron in your jam. The worst is the smell. Enamel would be a better choice. Non Reactive Stainless Steel is said to be good but I did long times ago and I can smell metal in my jam. Actually copper is also active with fruit acid but I never cook fruit without sugar in my copper jam pan.

      • I finally made the jam. Or tried to haha. It didn’t set. I used corella pears, brandy and cinnamon (awesome flavour, tastes amazing!) but I’m not sure where I went wrong? If I put the cinnamon in with the sugar (accidentally did that) will that affect the pectin bonding while it’s being drawn out? I don’t know if I boiled it too long or not long enough? I used rapadura sugar and went with 50% plus a cup or two for luck and I don’t know if that was enough, though I wouldn’t really want the jam any sweeter. The pears were quite firm and I left them quite chunky and they didn’t break down as much as what I thought they would. At one point while it was boiling I gently used a masher to make it less chunky and I don’t know if that would have affected the bonding either. I’m going to make some apple pectin and see if I can’t get it to set properly. Is there anything else I can do?

      • Sorry for late reply…

        Did you put any lemon juice or lime juice? Acid is very important for low pectin fruit like pears. I did pear candy or jelly and it’s hard to make it set as jelly but I don’t have problem with jam.

  59. Thanks very much for these detailed instructions. I’ve just made pear jam at 50% sugar, a dash of sea salt and 1/4 c whiskey – the first sneaky taste was delicious. (At the moment I’m intolerant to all fruit except pears, so I was keen to have some jam again, even though pears would normally have been my last choice!) Next time I’ll try it with 30% as it’s plenty sweet even at 50%, and there was no problem with it setting.

    Your labelling idea sounds wise, though I’m not sure it’ll stop husbands opening jars – I can hear suspicious noises now…

    • Ahhhh…whiskey and pear! That’s so cool. I want to try it. Pear has a lot off pectin naturally. I think you should be ok even with 30-35% sugar. I have to add a lot of lemon in my pear jam longgggg time ago. My jam came out good but I don’t think I’ve got enough pear flavor once I got the taste right. Another time I did it with red wine (just like posh pear) and spice, good but not great.

      The label made him opened more jars! He was like “I haven’t try this one yet”.

      • Normally it’s up to you. I love the skin. I like my jam chunky but if you like smooth jam, you can peel the skin. Also if the pears are not organics and might have some pesticide left over on the skin, then peeling is not a bad idea.

  60. Hi-
    Can you share more about your labels?
    What type of paper do you use?
    Or do you get them made?
    Also…I think they are printer friendly….right?
    Thank you.

    • I printed using ink-jet printer at home but I use “weatherproof”, white matt label that I ordered from online. (I don’t remember from where but I’m sure if I look I can find it) It came with template in PDF that you can easily import to your illustrator software or other software. They are quite printer friendly even though my printer isn’t that friendly (it has large gap all around the edge and can’t print edge to edge so I have to design to avoid that non-printable area).

  61. From Irish
    Hi there love ur jam making tricks . About the sea salt tip vs hymalian salt? I use the latter all the time . I’d appreciate ur thoughts on the difference or if one better than the other and why

    • The sea salt usually has a hint of the “ocean” flavor. I don’t know if it from the iodine in the salt of from some other mineral. The himalaya salt has a “cleaner” smell. This is just me. I’m not sure if other people feel the same way because the different between each salt in food is quite mild.

      I think all salts have their own different mild flavor. I actually use himalayan salt for regular cooking. It’s very clean taste. The one you saw here is Hawaiian Alaea sea salt. This one has a very strong earthy flavor with a hint of ocean. Hawaii has another sea salt called Hiwa Kai black salt. That one has even stronger earthy note to the point that it almost cover up the ocean smell in it. For some reason Hiwa Kai doesn’t contain sulfuric smell as much compare to Indian black salt which has a very strong sulfuric smell until some people thought the salt is rotten. (it’s the same smell from rotten egg)

      To say which one is better than the other is so difficult. Every time I use himalayan salt, I always remember that it probably doesn’t contain iodine and I will develop goiter…lol, silly me! I would say I use different salt for different things. Even the Indian black salt is good with egg dishes.

      My favorite salt is Alaea salt because I think it’s a nice balance between ocean and earthy smell. I used French gray salt, Sel gris de Guerande, when I make bread but I use fleur de sel when I make cookies. And you know between those two, the different is just the way they harvest them and that make the content of the salt just slightly different. I use the himalayan in most foods because it has the highest percentage of NaCl.

      Do you taste the different of each salt in foods? I can’t. I can taste the different when I taste the salt on it own though but once it’s in the food, it’s just salty. I can’t tell. (Well I have at least 6 different kinds of salt in my kitchen, can you tell how obsess I am?)

      Is this answer your question? Or may be it’s just revealed that I’m a gemini and can’t make a rational decision 😦

  62. Thanks Miranti for a really superb post… just one question have you made pomegranate jam.. and if yes then did t require apple pectin?

    • No, I never made pomegranate jam (or I think, jelly would be more like it). I never had that many pomegranate but my guess is yes, you probably need the apple pectin because you will have to extract the juice, right. You make me curious. I might have to save the pomegranate and make jelly next season. I have a friend who has the tree.

      • Have you made pomegranate jelly since your answer from 3 years ago? I’m trying to figure out how.

      • Sorry for the late reply. The trick is the seeds. You squeeze the juice out, keep ALL the seeds, put them in the bag and boil them with the juice (same technique as the marmalade). Let it boil for at least 5 minutes or longer. Then you fish the bag out after squeezing all pectin out and continue to boil down. It’s not as much pectin. You will get a little looser jelly than grape jelly but set into lump. You can also add the Apple pectin.

  63. Help! I followed your recipe exactly (with strawberries) and my jam didn’t set. =( It is like somewhat thick soup. I used 50% sugar and I cooked it to 218 degrees. Maybe I didn’t cook it long enough? Or too long? Is there anything I can do to the jam to fix it? Can I cook it some more to get it to thicken up?

    • Did you put lemon juice? How did you heat them all up in the beginning? Did you heat it up at medium heat to coax the pectin to come out? Did you stir all the time or occasionally?

      In the mean time let’s fix it. You can cook it down some more at high heat get it to higher temperature. I’m not sure if you have enough pectin. Normally at 218 F it’s pretty runny which is became popular in the last few years. Judging from the jams selling in the market! You can cook it to 224 F if you want a hard set jam but I’ve found that too hard. Of course I had some that is set like that (lol…multi-tasking is actually not a good thing).

      You can make pectin from apple (it takes a while about 1 hour-1.5 hour) and keep tat on hand, heat your jam up again to at least 220 F and taste with the wrinkle test. If it wrinkle, then your jam should be able to set without the the apple pectin but if is not, then add the pectin.

      Frankly I would not re-work the jam. I probably turn it into, chutney, or chili jam. Do you see where am I going? Add spice to cover up the lost freshness of fruits’ flavor. Let me know if you want recipe for chutney or chili jam.

      • I did put the lemon juice in. The jam tastes really good and it isn’t super runny, so I am thinking it is probably the way it is supposed to be for jam that I cooked to 218 degrees only, based on what you wrote. It is a decent consistency for toast, but it is a bit too runny for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which is really the reason I am making it. My 4 year old son is allergic to apples and can’t have any commercial jelly because it is all made with pectin. I started the jam on medium and turned the heat up to high, but turned it back down again to medium high because it was almost bubbling over and I saw in your instructions that if you cook it on too high temperature it could ruin the natural pectin. So at medium high I cooked it for about 20 minutes and I was afraid to cook it longer. I think maybe I needed to cook it a bit longer and a bit hotter. And, for a four year old, I think I left it too chunky. This being my first time I wasn’t sure how small to cut the pieces and thought they would break down more during cooking. I will definitely try again. I didn’t stir a lot because I was afraid of ruining the pectin too. I would love the recipe for chutney and chili jam. Thanks!

        I am definitely going to try again. I really appreciate your step by step instructions. I have been thinking about making jam for a while now and it was your post that encouraged me to try. I think I will try a small batch to see if I can get a harder set jam for sandwiches and use the last batch I made for toast or maybe make the chutney from the recipe you will send.

        Thanks also for your response to my questions!!!

      • You did everything right. Yes, 218 F the jam is easily spreadable. In the old time (not so old only ten years ago) most jam makers will stop cooking their jam at 220-222 F, which is the harder set but the new “runny jam” is set at a few degree lower. A few years ago my friend’s kids asked me to make jam that “I can pour out of the jar”. I tried a few time before I can get it right.

        I think the artisan jam maker who make big batch are the one setting a new trend because they cook a big batch (really big like six copper jam pan and have about 10-15lb of fruits up to the brim of all the copper jam pans). To cook it down two more degree higher meaning another 10-15 minutes and about 10-15%% less amount of the finish jam. So they sell their jam slightly runny because that’s not only preserve the flavors of the fruits but also give them more jam to sell.

        Congratulations for your first batch. I think you did everything right. Lower the heat as the jam get thicken is the right way to do. It’s not only keep the pectin intact but also reduce the volcano effect of the jam in the pan too.

        If you like your jam smooth. You can still cut fruits in a big chunk (if you are too lazy to cut them) and use the potato masher to press the fruits while its already in the pan too. This way you will get some big chunk left for a surprise piece and the jam is mostly smooth. When you make smooth jam, you usually get more pectin out in the jam as well.

        You normally won’t know the true finish consistency of your jam until at least 12-24 hr. after you put it in the jars and let it sit peacefully (no one tilt the jars to check if it set 😉 every few hours). Jam will get thicken once it cool and the pectin would formed a stronger bond. This depend on the size of the jars too. Jam from the same batch that packed in a smaller jar would set slightly harder than jam in a bigger jar.

        Do not afraid to heat it more. 20 minutes is about ok but usually mine take up to 30 minutes sometime.

        I’m glad my post is useful to you 🙂 Keep making more, homemade jam is not only taste better, it is better to know there is no preservative, no additive. If you are going to keep your jam over a year, replace 5% of your sugar with honey. This will prevent the crystalization of the sugar in the jam.

        Chutney is jam with less sugar, more vinegar or citrus juice, and lots of spice. The option of spice is end less. The way I do it. If I ruined my jam (such as burn the bottom, too runny and I don’t want to cook it the second time, or old jam the the sugar crystallized), then I use it for chutney.

        I usually add caramelized onion (personal preference), vinegar, garlic, all spice, nutmeg, mustard seed crushed (you can add what ever you like), sometime I even add wine, olive or bacon. Then I heat it up to a boiling stage to sterilize it and put in the jar. I don’t need to cook it down to thicken it.

        Chili jam is my invention to serve something spicy with cheese, so the jam need to be set harder than chutney and also sweeter. I usually used the jam the got crystalized from last year about 50-75% of the amount. Then I cook up another base fruits jam. I usually do this at the end of my summer jam making season so the fruits end up to be peach, late harvested pluots or late apricots. This year we’ve got so much blueberries so I use that. This is not so much for flavor. It is more for a base texture of the jam because the fruits flavors would not show up but it would blend and creat complex taste.

        Then I get the chili, de-seed them, make caramelized onion, add more herbs, tarragon, rosemary, kaffir lime leave, oregano, thymes, basil whatever available in your garden. You cook the base fruits, add the other stuff including the chili, onion, and herbs, cook it down to the jam stage, thinking ahead. If your old jam set hard, and you want to fix it to make it softer then cook it more runny. If your old jam too runny, then cook the base a little thicker. Add the old jam, cook until it bubble again before put in the jar.

        Usually my chili jam is a very sort after item for friends who love cheese but its the once in a life time thing because I never be able to make the exact same one next year! Haha…

      • Couldn’t you put the grapes in a food processor before cooking to get a smoother finished product? It sure would be easier than cutting them very small.

    • Sorry I thought this was a post about grape jam that was too chunky for a child’s preference. I see now it was strawberries. You are right about the seeds in the grapes and I was just thinking about seedless grapes I guess. Concord grapes would have seeds. But strawberries could get a swirl in the food processor for a smoother finished product. I personally don’t mind chunky jam.

    • I so want to see your traffic jam jar 🙂 It must look quite pretty. I just made Emeral Gems Pluots jam that came out quite yellowish green and I though of you. Too bad I can’t have all of them at the same time. I also make a “Black and White” White peach and Blackberry but I put blackberry jam in the middle just to off set the white peach jam a bit.

      • Oo, the black and white jam sounds amazing! I might try it. In the kitchen where I work, we’ve recently been making lots of plum jam and some soft set fig jam which I’m going to swirl through cinnamon semifreddo for a supper club meal we’re doing next month.

  64. This is the best darn jam making article and recipes that I’ve ever seen. Had to post it on Pinterest. too! I can’t wait to try your techniques.

    • Without sugar is quite hard. Please, read the comment that I responded to Trang for more information about natural sugar substitute. Raw sugar (Turbinado sugar), honey or organic pure grape juice might be a good idea.

      Sugar is the structure of the jam (sound scary but it’s natural) so you will need that. It’s how the fruits were preserved in the old time. If you make jam to eat in the next few months or you have space in your fridge to store your jam in there for the whole year, you can try with 25% sugar to fruit weight. The jam will come out so delicious but runny and can be moldy.

      I have a friend who has baby and of course she got some baby food jars in her house. She made jam the way I taught her but she only use 25% sugar (organics) and store ALL of them after canning in the fridge and open one jar at a time (unlike my husband). She only need to do this once a year. May be you can too.

      • Thanks for the explanations on this. I have been wanting to make preserves out of a bunch of fresh mangoes we have. My mother-in-law makes them almost every year and they are delicious, but my husband and I both think they are too sweet. So we would like to figure out a way to make them without so much added sugar. I will try with about 25% wild honey and see how it comes out. We can definitely store in the fridge. (:

      • Hi again. Just wanted you to know that I did go on and read the comment just below and now I know not to use just honey but to mix some Turbinado sugar in too! Will give it a try this weekend and report back on how it goes. I too am among the jam-fearing people.

      • Mango is the most difficult fruit to jam for me. If I want jam without having to extract pectin from apple, I have to add some other high pectin fruits like passionfruits, apricots or quiche to help with the pectin level. Or worst yet, add a lot of lemon juice to counter the sweetness in the mango so I can add more sugar just to make it set. Isn’t it insane? I found that the variety of mangoes give different amount of pectin but ALL still on the low side. You know what is set harder than mango jam…mango and pineapple jam. These are the combination that I have to extract pectin from apple to add to it for sure!

        Good luck Lauren, I’m eagerly waiting to see the result. I do love jam with so little sugar myself. When I made small batch just for the house and not going to give it to other people, I use about 30-25% and label them with the date so, I know to finish them sooner.

  65. Hi,
    Thank you for this amazing post! Question, are you able to sub. organic cane sugar with honey or have a mixture of sugar and honey? What would be the ratio?
    New to canning,

    • Sorry for late reply. I was out of town!

      For organic cane sugar (I used Turbinado sugar), you can used 60% or fruit weight if you are going to keep your jam for longer than a year. If you will finish your jam this year, you can use less but don’t use it less than 35% of fruit weight.

      Turbinado has less sugar content than regular white sugar. I don’t know about pure white because I used organic but with the same amount of weight of sugar, the one jam with turbinado would set slightly runny and less sweet (I love it). That’s why I estimate using about 60% of fruit weight instead of 50% like organic sugar.

      Honey is practically an “Inverted sugar” and I used that just to keep my jam from forming sugar crystal. If I want to keep my jam over a year. I never put more than 5-10% of fruit weight for that purpose but you can use honey. It’s great but it’s going to make your jam quite pricy. Also it changed the flavor of the fruits. Also DO NOT USE ONLY HONEY. I haven’t investigate it yet but if I don’t put any sugar and only use honey, my jam don’t set! So whatever you do mix the Turbinado in it too.

      Try organic brown sugar too. It’s delicious with apricots and peach.

      I hope that I’m not too late for answering this question.

      Please, keep me posted with the result too.

      • Hi! I read your mention of using organic brown sugar in the post above. I would like to make peach jam with organic brown sugar, but I know brown sugar is sweeter than regular sugar (a more concentrated sweet flavor), and I prefer jams that a little tart over jams that are super sweet. Should I use less sugar when using brown, or should I still use the same amount? If less, would this effect the ability for the pectin to be drawn out and the jam to set? If so, how would I compensate for this/what do you recommend?

        To get more tartness that sweetness with regular (organic) sugar jams and also increase shelf-life, should I use 30-35% sugar plus 5% honey? I’d like to give these as gifts and don’t know how quickly they’ll be consumed!

        Oh – and one last question (thanks in advance for your time!!): Could these be canned (with traditional lid and band) just for good measure? Is crystallization the only “go bad” threat of non-canned jams from this jamming process? Thanks!!

      • I’m not sure if brown sugar has more condense fructose because it’s not as pure as the white sugar. This is not a scientific fact. I have to check that later but I normally just taste test it. If you want your jam to be tart add more citrus. It’s really difficult to calculate because the biggest factor is the sweetness in fruits. That you can’t control. Citrus would help draw more pectin out of the fruits not the sugar. Sugar just help preserve the fruits and add more structure for the pectin. Without citrus, your jam would have a hard time setting.

        If you don’t know when your gift would be opened and consumed, I wouldn’t recommend 35% sugar unless they willing to keep the jam in the refrigerator. Jam without a proper canning would go bad, ferment, mold and etc. even with the jam that contain 50% sugar. Normally jam would contain between 65-100% sugar and that would be moldy if you don’t keep the already opened jar in the fridge. Those are jam in the market. Worst yet, they put preservative in them too! That’s why I make my own jam but I don’t use less than 35% sugar because I don’t want to keep all my jams in the fridge. I won’t have enough space.

        Crystallization is only happened when the jam is sit still in the cupboard for a long time. If it happened it still edible unlike the ruined jams from fermentation or other bacterias.

        You can use the Bell jars that has two part lids as long as you sterilize the jars before you put the jam in.

        35% sugar and 5% honey is good. That can keep up to two years (don’t know if you can keep pass two years, my jam would be gone before that…sorry especially the extremely low sugar one like that. It wasn’t intended to be kept that long but the bottle was mixed up with the others until I saw it nearly two years later. I didn’t expect to find a jar of jam, I thought I would have gotten a fermented mess for sure but nope. It was as delicious as the day I mad them!…lucky)

    • lol…I wouldn’t mind, I would love to eat your foods! But but but…I don’t know how to tend to the children and you will get rid off the handsome hunk you were hugging in your picture, right…lost in the proposal! Hee Hee 😉

      Make them and you can use them in your cooking too. I made shortbread with my peach jams, marinade meat in marmalade, have my own chili jam to serve with cheese, serve my fried wonton with my Santa Rosa plum jam (added salt and water to make it easier to dip). I don’t even have to use the yucky Chinese sweet and sour plum sauce anymore. 🙂

      • You bet! I am planning to make my first batch of meyer lemon marmalade next week. Fingers crossed. If all goes well it will make a great addition to my annual holiday gift baskets.
        I will keep you posted…….

    • LOL…thanks! I have a cat (nosy and curious about every thing I do, love to sleep in a jam pan too) and a dog who knows that the cat is a boss. If you follow me on Instagram you get to see them a lot. Milli had just demonstrated that I should not buy a jam pan that’s too small for is butt!

  66. Ah, another fruit preserver. Thanks for stopping by my site and liking the posts. Glad to see there is another no-packaged-pectin jam maker out there. Many people seem to think i’m crazy not to use pectin. I remember my mother using the super soft fruits that she would not can to make her jam so I’m doing that this year. It’s made a huge difference in flavor. I’m now getting that old-fashioned flavor I so well remember from childhood.

    • And if you add a few of the not so soft fruit in the mix, your jam souls taste even better. There are a lot of artisan jam makers making no pectin added jam these days too. People are calling me and want to buy my jams, they offer to buy at a very expensive price like $20 and over per 12 oz. jar. But I’m worry that I won’t have enough left for myself, so I told them to go buy those artisan jams and add salt 🙂

  67. Excellent post! I’m going to try it after I retire at the end of the month and have lots of time on my hands. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to try it with mangos, which I love and do buy the commercial jam of.

    • Congratulation on the retirement!…if you want to make mango jam and don’t mind the “runny” jam, go right ahead. It only needs apple pectin just a little approximately about half an apple for half a kilo of mango of if you like harder jam, you can add more.

      • Cool. I made strawberry jam with pectin in May and it was so much fun. I like my jam to be blended without big chunks and that’s hard to find in the store-bought strawberry jams. The nice thing about making it yourself is you can do it your way.

  68. What an epic jam adventure! I have always wanted to make my own, but never had the courage to try. Now with your tutorial, I’m already thinking up combinations and setting aside time – your instructions are wonderful and I’ve always had such good luck with your recipes. Excited to see how it goes!!! I’m particularly interested in canning tomatoes for out-of-season consumption – what are your tips/herbs of choice with them?

  69. I love the idea of using herbs to spice up the flavors of the jam. I don’t know about other places in Indonesia, but I can tell you for sure that there is no such thing as Strawberry Tarragon Jam in my hometown! 😀 (I have been using dried clove and cinnamon in my pineapple jam for years!)

    • Clove and cinnamon in pineapple jam. That’s brilliant! I hate cinnamon but I substitute all cinnamon with nutmeg or mace. Thai has recipe for pineapple candy (you pretty much cook them down with sugar until they dry) and I might try it with these spices…Thanks Hari 🙂

    • Do you add pectin to the jam? If you do not, please share the recipe. I want to make the sugarless jam too but I don’t use commercial pectin at all so I don’t know how to make that.

      I found someone in Seattle who put only 10-20% of sugar in her jam (no pectin added) but she hasn’t respond to my Q yet. I made a jar of jam that I only use 25% sugar to fruit weight, but I finished the jam in about two months so I don’t know how long it would keep.

  70. Looks delicious! The blackberries and raspberries in my backyard are looking really good. We will hopefully have a bumper harvest. But, one problem I have with these fruits is the amount of seeds. Do you have any recommendations for getting rid of the seeds especially in the blackberries?

    • You can do it the same way as making coulis. Wash the fruits, put them in the pot with lemon juice and little sugar and blast the heat (I use medium high) until the juice comes out and the fruits are soft (stir often). Then you strain them through the mesh colander. You will get all the pulp without the seeds. Then you can use the pulp to make jam without seeds. You should make jam right away with the pulp and use high heat.

      I usually use only 35-40% of sugar to fruits weight if I do it this way. It’s depend on how long you want to keep your jam too. If the jam is for only a few months, you can reduce sugar even more. You might get a little runny jam but the fruits would maintain the flavors more fully.

  71. Beautiful post and the jams are simply delicious looking I’m sure they taste great! Love the dual jams and love the labels. You really go into details 😀

  72. So very thorough and detailed that even a former mechanic can do it… I also wish to compliment you on the photography – painstakingly done. Superb photography. Colors, DOF, focus… Wow. But I do have one question: what makes sea salt so different from say Kosher salt? The flavor? Thank you!

    • Kosher salt is more concentrate sodium chloride (NaCl) with very little or none of other minerals. Sea salt came from evaporating sea water that contains multiple minerals and have different texture and taste. The content of those minerals are quite small compare to the concentration of sodium chloride but significant to both body and tongue.

      How to the body is difficult to find article on Internet to support. You can try google it. I’m sure you will find more article to say that, there is no different and you should not spend extra dime to buy sea salt, more than article saying that they are different and you should use only sea salt.

      This is a testimonial from a friend of my husband who loves salt but only used Morton or Kosher for a long time. He said by using sea salt, he finally stop craving for more salt after he salted his food. Through out the meal, he always add more salt to his food to the point that look dangerous both to his kidney and the taste. Once he switch to natural sea salt he stop that habit completely. Why? He guessed that finally his body got what it craved. Obviously not the salt or the sodium chloride itself but other minerals that come with it. So there is some additional benefit about using sea salt.

      • Wow! Thank you so much for such a detailed reply! I’ve only used Kosher but maybe I’ll buy some sea salt and taste the difference. Thank you!

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