Guide: Making Delicious Homemade Jam

Making jam in the comfort of your own kitchen may sound like a whimsical and wonderful Sunday afternoon, but a lot of us have no idea where to even begin because it’s such a foreign concept. Instead of buying all of those beautiful fresh berries and fruits at the farmer’s market and allowing them to go to waste in the corner of your fridge, use them to your advantage!

Creating some jars of homemade jam can easily become a reality, and less of a daydream, by using that local produce in the best of ways. The idea can be magical but practical too, we promise. And you’ll love all of the treats you will uncover with this sweetness nearby. Follow along with our easy guide to making delicious, homemade jam.

Wait, What’s the Difference: Jam, Jelly, & Marmalade

Before we get started with the how, let’s make sure you know the what—and part of knowing what your jam is knowing the difference between a jam, a jelly, and a marmalade. So, wait, what’s the difference, exactly?

Here’s the the quick and dirty:

Jam is made with whole fruits. Sugar is included and they cook alongside each other to create a rich, thick—well, jam! The process uses the fruit’s natural pectin, but the creator (you) will add an additional powdered pectin. You’ll find both smooth or chunky jams—all should be rich in flavor and easy to spread.

Jelly is much clearer than a jam. It’s more gelatinous than what we’re used to seeing a jam be, and it’s not made from the whole fruit itself. Instead, the juices of different fruits are utilized. These recipes will usually use powdered pectin to help set the consistency.

Marmalade is a different category because it focuses on citrus fruits only. These are jams made from the likes of oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit or even limes. These recipes include a bit of the rind—or boiling of the skin—in the process of cooking.

Ingredients & Supplies for Making Jam at Home

Before you get started, you’ll need all the necessities.

The ingredients:

  • Fruit of choice (check this pectin chart to see if you’ll need to add additional pectin for setting)
  • Pectin (depending on the fruit)
  • Granulated sugar (sometimes brown sugar, agave, or even honey may be involved depending on the unique recipe)
  • Fresh lemon or lime
  • Fresh herb accompaniment such as mint, thyme, or rosemary

The supplies:

  • Copper pot (stainless steel or coated cast-iron works too)
  • Wooden spoons
  • Canning tongs
  • Mesh strainer (make sure it’s wide)
  • Jars (size of your choice)

The Simplest of Jam-Making Directions

Wooden spoon full of berries for making jam near small cooking device

You would truly be surprised at just how simple making jam can be. And it’s mostly just cooking the fresh fruits. Here are the simplest of jam-making directions:

Step 1: Clean your fruit and toss it in some sugar. Allow it to sit at least 20-30 minutes before cooking.

Step 2: Add your fruit to your pot and cook over high heat. Cooking will take between 40-50 minutes depending on the fruit’s water content—to which we want to evaporate and the natural pectin powers to kick in. Stir constantly even when it begins to thicken.

Step 3: Now it’s time to skim the jam. Eventually, a cloudy, white foam will form atop the jam; you will need to use a mesh strainer to remove this. This is forming because of the impurities rising to the top and you don’t want them to stay within your jam.

Step 4: Test before you decide to transfer the concoction into jars. It’s important you like the flavor! You’ll also need to test the consistency. Once you know that the flavor is on point, put some jam on a surface where you can drag your finger through it to test the setting. If it’s too liquidy, give it more time.

Step 5: Transfer your jam into clean jars. They will be able to set completely, and cool off in the fridge. If you want to seal your jars and “can” your jam, check out this quick guide to make sure you’re giving your jars the proper sealing.

Creative Homemade Jam Recipes We Love

Drunken Peach Jam from Love & Olive Oil

Jars of drunken peach jam with utensil sticking out of one

“Peach and bourbon come together in this delightfully tipsy drunken peach jam. With ripe summer peaches, a splash of lemon juice and more than a splash of bourbon, this might just be your new summer jam.”

Frozen Strawberry Jam from Allrecipes

Open jar of frozen strawberry jam with knife resting nearby

“I’ve never made jam before in my life, and suddenly got the urge to try. When I looked up recipes I realized I was lacking the exact ingredients called for, so I improvised with what I had, and the result was so fantastic, I just had to share! This recipe is pectin free and made with frozen berries.”

Homemade Chia Jam from Meghan Livingston

Hands holding open jar of homemade chia jam

Have you ever made Chia Jam before? I hadn’t until recently, but it’s now one of my favourite recipes to make. Rich in fibre and antioxidants, this low-sugar Chia Jam is a perfect replacement for store bought jellies. Get creative with your favourite fruits!”

Strawberry-Kiwi Jam from Better Home and Gardens

Open jar of strawberry-kiwi jam near toast on cutting board

“Preserve the fresh flavors of summer with this Strawberry-Kiwi Jam recipe. Try the berry and kiwi fruit jam slathered on toast, a bagel, or a biscuit for a sweet snack.”

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam from Noshing with the Nolans

Wooden spoon dipping into jar of blueberry rhubarb jam

“Do you have a backyard full of rhubarb and never know what to do with it? This year we made delicious Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without any Certo or pectin. This keeps it very simple. Rhubarb thickens gorgeously when cooked so no need to add anything to make it gel.”