Making and canning homemade jam is a great way to save the fresh fruits of the season.
When Spring and Summer fruits are in season, many of us will reach for our homemade jam recipes for canning to preserve that precious harvest.
Not much can beat the flavor of homemade jam spread over a biscuit or lathered on fresh bread, or even mixed into your favorite yogurt. And to be honest, homemade jam is pretty simple to make and can for later.
The only ingredients needed for homemade jam are fresh fruit, sugar, and some loving care.
Our grandmothers made homemade jam all the time, with just those ingredients. Simple, real, delicious. It was thick, rich, and full of the flavors of the season. The kind of flavor that would make your taste buds sing.
Today, many people add store bought pectin in order to achieve that true “set”. As a matter of fact, most homemade jam recipes for canning now call for it.
Pectin is what helps jam get to that thick consistency to spoon out of the jar and spread onto bread.
Without it, many are left with a fruit flavored syrup that is great on pancakes, but will not spread on bread.
But do you have to use pectin – and if not, how do you preserve jam without pectin? Let’s take a closer look!
Pectin is a polysaccharide found in the cell walls of plants. It is believed to play a role in plant development and reproduction, as well as in defense against pathogens.
Pectin is also used by humans in a variety of ways, such as in the manufacture of food and beverages, as a thickening agent, and in pharmaceuticals.
In addition, pectin has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels, boosting immune function, and aiding in weight loss.
Given its many uses and potential health benefits, it is no wonder that pectin is such an important compound.
\Although it is generally considered to be safe, some people believe that pectin may be harmful to the body. One of the main concerns is that pectin can bind to minerals such as iron and calcium, making them less available for absorption.
Additionally, pectin can ferment in the gut, leading to gas and bloating. However, these effects are typically only seen when large amounts of pectin are consumed. Most people can safely consume moderate amounts of pectin without any problems.
In fact, pectin has several health benefits, including reducing cholesterol levels and promoting regularity. Therefore, while there are some potential risks associated with pectin consumption, the overall evidence suggests that it is safe for most people.
So if pectin isn’t necessarily harmful, why would you want to bother not using it when you make your own homemade jam? There are a few reasons.
For starters, pectin-free jams tend to be less sweet and more flavorful. And since there’s no need to add sugar or other sweeteners, they’re also healthier.
Additionally, pectin-free jams are easier to make because you don’t have to worry about getting the ratio of fruit to pectin just right.
So if you’re looking for a less sweet, more flavorful jam, try making it without pectin. You might just be surprised at how good it is.
If you don’t add pectin to your jam (or take the other steps for pectin-less jam detailed in this article), it will be runny.
You can still make delicious jam without pectin, but there are a few things you need to know.
First, use ripe fruit. Ripe fruit has more natural pectin than unripe fruit.
Second, add lemon juice. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which will help the jam to gel.
Third, cook the jam longer. Without pectin, it will take longer for the jam to reach the proper consistency.
Finally, don’t be discouraged if your jam doesn’t turn out perfectly. Runny jam is still delicious! Just enjoy it on toast or ice cream instead of spreading it on bread.
While pectin can be purchased at most supermarkets, it is also relatively easy to make at home.
For example, apple peels and cores contain a high concentration of pectin, which can be extracted by boiling the fruit scraps in water.
In addition, many other fruits and vegetables – such as citrus fruits, plums, and Gooseberries – also contain significant amounts of pectin. As a result, there are many different ingredients that can be used as a substitute for pectin in jam-making.
Experimenting with different fruits and vegetables is one way to create unique and flavorful jams without the use of store-bought pectin.
Is adding pectin absolutely necessary? Actually, you can learn how to make jam without added pectin. Do this simply by cooking the fruit and sugar for the right amount of time.
So can you make jam without pectin? Absolutely. The key is just to be patient.
This requires a lot of patience and care as it can take as long as 30 minutes, and you will need to stir the entire time to avoid burning or overflowing.
Make sure you cut the fruit into even pieces. Depending on the size of your blackberries, strawberries, or whatever other kinds of fruits you are trying to preserve, you’ll need to halve or quarter them before you begin.
Boil the fruit for at least 20 minutes, bringing it to medium heat. It will start out with large, juicy-looking bubbles that get smaller as the jam gets closer to being done. You can add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for pint jars to help the jam set a bit better.
Canning Jam Without Pectin Step by Step
To can homemade jams or jellies made with berries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, or whatever other kind of fruit you prefer (but no pectin!), you will need clean and sterilized jars, new lids, and clean bands. The jam mixture should be water bath processed, not pressure canned.
You don’t have to go out and buy a water bath canner. You can easily use a large stock pot to make your batch of jam. Just make sure you’re following the appropriate water bath canning procedures.
Don’t use a pressure canner, either. Water bath canners only.
This is because of the delicateness of the fruits that can be destroyed under pressure. Follow the recipe or your canner instructions for time.
Do not use the “open kettle” method, the sealing wax, or invert method for canning homemade jam, even if Grandma did it.
Water bath canning is the only approved method of canning any kind of jam, regardless of whether it’s raspberry jam, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, jam without pectin, low sugar jam – any. Kind. of. Jam. Must be water bath canned! Easy as that.
There are more bacteria in the air than she had to deal with, and we know more about food safety now. Just don’t, please. It’s not worth the risk.
Your homemade jam can be stored on a pantry shelf, properly canned for up to a year. After that, it can begin to lose some nutritional value and the flavors may start to fade.
For most of us, using it up within that time isn’t a problem. I usually can’t get our jam to last that long!
You can also store your un-pectin jam in the refrigerator. It will last several weeks. It can be stored up for three months in the freezer, too.
Here are the steps you should take. I’ll give you an example for making blackberry jam without pectin – you may need to add more or less fruit depending on what kind of fruit you use, because again, each type of fruit has a different level of pectin.
- 5 cups blackberries
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
- Water bath canner
- Sterilized mason jars
- Lids and rings
- Jar lifter
- Clean dish towels and rags
- Sauce pan
- Assorted mixing tools, knives, colanders, etc for preparing berries
- Measuring cups
1. After washing your fruit, add all ingredients to a saucepan. Make sure the saucepan isn’t filled to the brim, since the mixture will foam as it cooks.
2. Let the mixture foam up, then simmer it by lowering the heat to a medium-low. Let it reach the gel stage but constantly stir to keep bubbles down and to prevent the mixture from sticking.
3. Cook for around 20-30 minutes. Increase the sugar to 2 cups if you want the mixture to gel faster.
4. Test for “setting” or the “gel stage” by letting the mixture cool for a few minutes, then taking a spoonful of the jam out of the pan. If it has set, it should slide off the spoon with a couple of drops clinging together.
4. While waiting for the jam to set, prepare your canning jars. Wash and sterilize the jars and rings and fill your water bath canner with water. Turn on the heat on medium-high heat.
5. Pour the jam into the prepared canning jars. Leave ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars to remove any residue. Put the lids on the jars then screw on the rings until they are fingertip tight.
6. Load the jars into the canner. Once the water has started to boil, start your timer.
7. Process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from the canner and allow to cool for 24 hours before storing.
How To Tell if Your Jam Without Pectin Has Set
How do you know your homemade jam is set? When is that critical moment that the jam will be “jam” instead of syrup? There are a couple “tried and true” methods to test it before canning.
1. You cover a spoon with the homemade jam and liquid, and then take it out of the heat.
Once it has begun to cool, you will see the jam slide off the spoon with one or two drops clinging to it together. It takes a bit of practice, but this is my favorite method to use.
2. Add ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol to a bowl and spoon in a teaspoon of your jam. If it jams up to that thick consistency within 30 seconds, it is ready to can. My grandmother swore by this method.
Also, just as a reminder, please don’t sample this jam after it has been in alcohol. You will want to toss this in the garbage after testing.
Once the jam has set, you can ladle the hot jam into pint jars or half pints (whichever you prefer) and can it. I’ll give you more details on how to do an accurate jam temperature test and can your jam below!
Again, this is a much longer time than you would boil jam that has pectin in it – but it’s honestly just as easy, in my opinion.
The time spent will be worth it, as you open the jars all winter long.
How long does it take jam to thicken without pectin? This is not a simple question to answer because it depends on several factors. Each fruit has a different level of natural pectin, so some jams will thicken faster than others.
Additionally, store-bought pectin is popular because it gives you more consistent results.
Some fruits have more pectin than others, which means their jam will thicker more quickly.
Keep in mind that the less sugar you add to your jam, the less shelf stable it is.
For all of these reasons, it is difficult to give a precise answer to the question of how long it takes jam to thicken without pectin. The results of your homemade jam might not be as consistent as they would be if you used pectin, but with time and some trial and error, you can certainly figure this thickening time out for yourself.
While all fruits contain some pectin, the amount can vary considerably.
Apples, citrus fruits, and grapes are among the fruits with the highest levels of pectin, while apricots, blueberries, and strawberries are among those with the lowest levels.
Understanding which fruits are high in pectin can help you choose the best fruit for your needs.
Using pectin can help to create a jam with a more uniform texture.
Since the pectin helps to bind the fruit together, it is less likely to separate during the cooking process.
This can be especially helpful when making jam with multiple fruit types, as it prevents the different flavors from bleeding into each other. In addition, using pectin can help to create a higher yield, as there is less shrinkage during the cooking process.
On the other hand, some jam-makers prefer to make their jam without pectin, as they feel that it results in a more pure fruit flavor.
Without the addition of pectin, the jam will have a softer texture and may require longer cooking time in order to achieve the desired consistency.
Ultimately, whether or not to use pectin is a matter of personal preference.
Although jam is often made with pectin, this is not always the case. There are a number of ways to make jam without using pectin, and many of these methods are actually quite simple.
Again, one easy way to make jam without pectin is to use a high-pectin fruit such as oranges or lemons. The natural pectin in these fruits will help to thicken the jam as it cooks.
Another option is to cook the jam for a longer period of time. This will help to evaporate some of the water, resulting in a thicker consistency.
Finally, you can also add chia seeds or flaxseed meal to your jam. These ingredients will help to absorb moisture and create a gel-like texture. With a little trial and error, you can easily make delicious jam without using any pectin at all.
Do you make homemade jam without added pectin? What’s your method to determine if it’s ready to can? Be sure to pin this for later!
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.