Country Traditions

Making Jams and Jellies: Tips and Recipes

  • Avoid using waxy supermarket produce. Grow or pick your own. The fresher, the better.
  • For proper texture, make sure that you use the exact combination of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar.
  • Some fruits are naturally high in pectin and some are naturally low. Apples, gooseberries, and some plums and grapes usually contain enough natural pectin to form a gel. Other fruits, such as strawberries, cherries, and blueberries, must be combined with fruits high in pectin or with commercial pectin products to form a gel.
  • Because fully ripened fruit has less pectin, one-fourth of the fruit used for jellies without added pectin should be underripe.
  • For fruits low in acid, you’ll often add lemon juice or other acid ingredients.
  • Sugar serves as a preserving agent, contributes flavor, and aids in gelling. Corn syrup and honey can be used to replace part of the sugar in recipes but too much will mask the fruit flavor.
  • Do not try to reduce the amount of sugar in traditional recipes. Too little sugar prevents gelling and may allow yeasts and molds to grow.
  • Always use sterilized jars. Your dishwasher may sterilize. Or, you can sterilize jars in a boiling-water canner.
  • Never use recycled commercial jars or old-style home-canning jars. They can break in the process.
  • To ensure a tight seal, do not reuse jar lids. Screw bands are not needed on stored jars.
  • Process the jars in a boiling-water canner (a large standard-size lidded kettle with a jar rack, designed for heat-processing 7 quart jars or 8 to 9 pint jars in boiling water).  Be sure to process for the exact time specified in the recipe.

Fruit Jam Guide

Fruit Cups Crushed Cups Sugar Tablespoons Lemon Juice Half-Pint Yield
Apricots 4 to 4-1/2 4 2 5 to 6
Berries* 4 4 0 3 to 4
Peaches 5-1/2 to 6 4 to 5 2 6 to 7

* Includes blackberries, boysenberries, dewberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

For help translating a pound of fruit to the number of cups needed, see our Measuring Fruits chart (in Related Articles above).

Recommended Processing Time

For hot-pack jams in half-pint or pint jars without added pectin in a boiling-water container:

Altitude 0-1,000 feet 1,001-6,000 feet Above 6,000 feet
Processing Time 5 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes

Give your preserves as a gift from your own kitchen. Cover the top with a circle of fabric that is 2 inches larger than the jar top. Secure it with several turns of a fine gold cord or ribbon.

Jam Recipes

Enjoy these award-winning jam recipes from The 1983 Old Farmer’s Almanac reader recipe contest.


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