Learn how to make jam in no time! Here’s a quick and easy berry jam recipe with just two ingredients. Importantly, this simple jam has that naturally delicious, flavor-packed taste that all jam lovers crave.
How to Make Berry Jam
For this home-style recipe, you simply need equal parts berries and sugar. Skip the fruit pectin. Though it helps jam solidify, it can also dilute the natural flavor of the fruit. You may need to cook the fruit a bit longer, but it’s worth it for that old-fashioned taste.
We like to use boysenberries grown in our community garden. I love the intense flavor of the boysenberry—which resembles a red blackberry (and is in fact a cross of several types of berries). Another favorite is classic strawberry jam, especially with fresh-picked strawberries. Extra points if you grow your own!
The berries were frozen last season and we had to make room in the freezer for this year’s crop. In fact, we made this jam right in the old garden shed, with an electric kettle and single burner stove; I’d run out to the garden faucet to fill up bottles with fresh water!
Note: This recipe does not involve processing with a hot water bath as you would with a larger (or commercial) canning project. We are, however, placing the jars and lids in a pot with boiling hot water (while the berries cook). If you are concerned with safety, just pop your homemade jam in the fridge for storage.
This is a small-batch recipe that is meant to be quick and easy—any time you have some berries on hand from the garden or market or a day of berry picking!
Ingredients and Materials
- The night before, defrost fresh berries if they’re frozen. (If you have a blueberry bush or love to have blueberries around, you can freeze your blueberries and use them in jam whenever you want!)
- Put a small plate (on its own) in the freezer to chill.
- Have clean glass jars and lids on hand. We used small jars to sell at a school fair.
- We had about 4 pounds of berries and used almost the same amount of sugar.
If you don’t want to make such a large batch, use the following recipe, which measures by cups:
- 4 cups berries
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- YIELD: Makes 4 cups.
Note: You can use one-third less sugar, but you do need sugar for the jam to gel properly.
Directions: How to Make Jam
- Put the clean berries in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a full, steady boil over high heat until the berries reduce and there aren’t any large lumps left. There is no need to include water while boiling, as the berries have plenty of moisture themselves. Stir consistently.
- Weigh the sugar and add to the berries or add the measured sugar in a steady stream. Keep stirring until sugar is dissolved. Tip: If you feel the bottom of the pot and it’s “crunchy” with sugar, then it’s not ready.
- Now bring the mixture to a rolling, bubbling boil on the highest heat. Add a thermometer, if you have one, to ensure that the temperature is as far above boiling point as possible. Some cooking thermometers have a “jam” marking.
- While the jam is cooking, sterilize the glass jars and lids in boiling water.
- Tip: To determine when the jam is ready, do the “wrinkle test.” Take the cold plate out of the freezer and spoon a teaspoon of berry liquid on the plate. Push your finger against the liquid. Is it thick enough to wrinkle? If so, the cooked jam has reached a setting point.
- Remove the berry sauce from the heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pour the cooked berry mix into your hot sterilized jars.
- Place the lids on the jars at once and twist them tightly. You should hear the heat cause the jar to “snap” or seal. If you don’t hear the pop, definitely put the jar in the refrigerator and not in the cupboard.
- Note: USDA guidelines for food safety recommend a boiling water bath for high-acid foods. If you are going to store the jam for a longer period, it’s advisable to put the jars through a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. This recipe is for jam that you’ll be eating soon!
After making this jam, I was given two jars to take home! The next morning, we were ready to spread pure boysenberry goodness on our morning toast. Do you think my taste tester liked the homemade jam?
For more canning and jam-making tips and recipes, see How to Make Jams and Preserves. Also see our Canning and Pickling Article Library and our Pickles and Preserves Recipes page to find many more great jam recipes!
Do you make jam at home? Share your tips in the comments below!