Jam 101: How to Make Jam with Whatever Fruit You Have on Hand

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Perhaps the very easiest thing to can is homemade jam.  It’s not very expensive, it’s simple, and once you’ve made one kind of jam, others just cooperatively fall into place for you.  It’s a great way to get started canning.

The instructions for basic jams are all pretty much the same – you only need to make minor modifications for different fruits.  So, because we’re all creative people, I’m laying out the basic how-to, giving you a chart with special instructions fruit by fruit, and you can take it from there.


  • 8 cups of fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1 packet of pectin + ¼ of a package (I like to use the no-sugar-needed, but then still add sugar – just less!)
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 tbsp- 1/4 cup of lemon juice


1.      Prep your fruit by washing it and cutting it up if necessary.

2.     Smush your fruit.  You can do this with a potato masher, food processer, blender or food mill.  For some fruits I like to puree them and have a smoother jam and for others I like chunkier jam – it’s up to personal preference.


3.     In a small bowl, use a fork to mix ¼ cup of the sugar with one packet of pectin.

4.     In a saucepan, stir the fruit, lemon juice and pectin together well.

5.     Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

6.    Once it is boiling, stir in the sugar and return to a boil for one minute.


7.     This is important:

Jam Making Rule of Law: 

Always test your jam!!!!  


You do this by keeping a spoon in the freezer – to test, drip a bit of the hot jam into the spoon to allow it to quick cool – the consistency it reaches is the consistency your finished product will be.  At this point, I nearly always end up adding another 1/4 – 1/2 package of pectin – I use the cheaper pectin to “top it up” – return to a simmer for a couple of minutes and test again.   Omitting this step may result in a very tasty ice cream topping or waffle syrup, but not jam!



8.  Ladle the jam carefully into your awaiting (sanitized) jars, wipe the rims and cap your jars with snap lids and rings.

9.     Process in a water bath canner, according to the ingredients chart and making adjustments for your altitude.

Jam Making Chart

Peel, slice in half to pit
5 minutes
optional step: mill to remove seeds
10 minutes
optional step: puree
7 minutes
Pit with a cherry pitter, chop before cooking
10 minutes
Mill to remove seeds
10 minutes
Check for stems
10 minutes
Peel, slice in half to remove pits
10 minutes
Slice in half to remove pits
5 minutes
Crush with a potato masher
10 minutes
Remove cores, mash with a potato masher
10 minutes

If you are using more than one fruit in your jam, follow the instructions for the fruit that takes the longest to process.  For example, if you are making a blackberry and plum jam, process for 10 minutes instead of 5 minutes.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I have to admit i cheat when i can. i bought a ball jam machine and boy howdy it really helps me out make jam. i followed the instructions ,an made 14 half pints in no time at all plus got my laundry done too. so sometimes it pays to cheat! strawberries are on next is blackberries, then peaches then carrots so have fun gotta go mow hay inbetween !!!

  • How long will canned jam last? I was over zealous last summer since it was my first time and still have plenty left.

    • The USDA says that jam will last about one year. It doesn’t usually last that long at our house but I have used jam that was closer to two years and it was fine. I have to recommend that you follow the USDA guidelines, though.


  • Daisy, I love the spoon trick..thanks. Our last jam set up like cement, because the batch before that was as you said “waffle topping” but not jam, and so we added too much pectin that time. One thing you omitted in your recipe was the amount of lemon juice to add. thanks

    • Yes…from the Pick Your Own website, here’s how to sub honey for sugar in canning recipes:

      “To use honey in place of sugar, use 7/8 cup for every cup of sugar, and don’t change the other liquids. According to food labs, honey may be substituted effectively for up to half the sugar called for in a canning syrup recipe.”

      Link: http://www.pickyourown.org/SubstitutingHoneyForSugar.htm

    • Hi, Meg – YUMMY!!! I’m so jealous!

      For figs, mash them “chunky” with a potato masher then cook them down for about 10-15 minutes before stirring in your lemon juice, sugar, and pectin. Water bath can them for 7 minutes, adjusting for altitude.



  • I made all my jams, jellies, and fruit butters, and leathers from what grows in nature this year. Wild grapes, crab apples, autumn olive berries, quince, wild apples, plums, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I even found out the kousa dogwood (not in the wild) an ornamental tree has a large berry the size of a ping pong ball is edible and makes wonderful jelly and fruit leathers. I picked two five gallon buckets in about a half hour from the local park. Some for Christmas gifts, some for the food bank and some for my family.

  • I’m interested in making my own jams, I’m curious to know have you ever tried jalapeños with a fruit? I have tasted a raspberry-jalapeño jam before, it was delicious, and would like to know your suggestions on balancing the spicy and sweet.

    • It will firm up a little bit as it cools but not a whole lot. I made a really great batch of strawberry rhubarb syrup one year so don’t despair if it doesn’t. Just think pancakes. 🙂

  • My hubby is out picking a ton of blackberries, unfortunately, because of a back condition I’m not going to be able to make the jam until this coming weekend.

  • I want to combine different fruits just for some variety. I make a lot of jam and am wondering what combinations work well. I have made strawberry and rhubarb but that is the only combination I have tried so far. Any suggestions please.

    • Hi Janet!

      It really depends what you have on hand. I am a big fan of adding lemon or lime to other fruits – I just made some blueberry-lime jam. I’ve also made mixed berrry jams before that turned out wonderfully. Another one I made that was truly delicious was cherry and peach. I think that if you might eat the fruits together in a dessert or a fruit salad, they’d be delicious together in a jam.

      Let me know what you end up creating! 🙂


      • I think I am going to try some rhubarb combinations as might get a supply of rhubarb…raspberry/rhubarb, blackberry/rhubarb. Has anyone made any of these. Think I feel more comfortable sticking with fruit I know as am a bit concerned if I mix fruit there may be no definite flavour.

  • I have just made a load of pots of blackberry jam but it doesn’t appear to have set well can it be re heated and re jar or is it to late

    • Mandy – you can take it out of the jars and reheat with more pectin if you want to. The best rule of thumb is not to jar it until it’s a consistency you’re happy with. I learned this the hard way 🙂 Other uses for runny jam: pancake topping, yogurt topping, smoothie addition – think syrup!

      If you do decide to add more pectin, when you process it, be sure and do it as though your processing it for the first time. Use the full amount of time recommended for safety.


  • Can you use any type of jar? I have several of the glass pasta jars sitting around and was wondering if those could be used and if so, is there anything differently I’d need to do (storing) and will it have the same shelf life as a “jam” jar would 🙂 also, is it necessary to add lemon or lime juice? I’m a first timer and am planning on making my first small batch of strawberry jam! Thanks in advance!!

  • Daisy, I am new to your site and enjoying it, thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am wanting to make my own jams/jellies to get away from so much sugar. What about Stevia in the Raw? Would you recommend and/or what would be the measurements? Thanks.

    • Kim: I haven’t tried using Stevia so I can’t give you specific advice on it. I’d suggest that you Google it and for at least the first batch, follow a recipe to the letter. Once you have that one turn out okay, you can do some experimenting with other recipes. I’m positive it can be done, but it’s definitely going to change some things as far as thickening the jam is concerned.

      Let us know how it works out! I’d be very interested to hear about your results.


  • I was using sucralose as a sugar substitute to make a jam but the jam doesn’t set properly.How can i fix this problem?

  • Thanks for jam information. I remember waiting for the “foam” when my mom made jam and she would spoon it on bread for us kids -what a treat. I’m going to make some peach/plum jam

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