Jams and Jellies of 2019

Hi everyone. I thought it might be fun/helpful to see what types of jams and jellies people are making this year. I made my first batch over the weekend. It was red rhubarb and Minaj currant. It came out really well even though I stuck with my habit of using less sugar than recommended. The rhubarb broke down nicely after twenty or so minutes and then I added the currants. It’s a good combo and I’ll make it again. Next up is gooseberry elderberry.


I made some montmorency sour cherry jam last weekend. I was picking the cherries as they ripened and letting them macerate in the fridge. Once they were all harvested I made the jam.

I hadn’t made jam in awhile, I don’t have a recipe I just do it by feel having been doing it for 30+ years. But I forget the feel if its been awhile… It came out good, maybe a touch thicker than I would like but still tasty. Montmorency jam is one of my favorites, that cherry has a fantastic flavor when concentrated.

My “recipe” is to use 1/2 or so the sugar of the standard jam recipe, and to cook in a thin layer 1/2-3/4" (I use four big frying pans on the stove). This lets it evaporate faster so you can get a good set with less sugar.


That’s been my approach too. I rarely buy jam any more, but when I do it always tastes unpleasantly sweet.


Scott, do you have to keep stirring to prevent scorching or do you just keep the heat really low or … ?

I am constantly stirring. I use two spatulas one in each hand to scrape the bottoms of the pans. I keep the heat high, maybe a bit off full blast but you need a good rolling boil.

Here is a picture of the final stuff… I didn’t get a lot since it is very concentrated.


Do you add any pectin or is it just cooked down so much it gets thick?

I add pectin if needed; if it has been cooking enough but is not setting well in the cold spoon test that is when I stir it in. Strawberry for example often needs pectin. This batch needed no pectin.

I make jams with just the “name” fruit (raspberry, plum, apricot, peach) with no commercial pectin, but I do grate one medium sized apple into each batch of about two pounds of fruit. Best if the apple is slightly underripe. I always use about 25% less sugar than a typical recipe calls for, and cook to set either by the spoon test or to temp. Four cups (two pounds) of fruit typically needs about three cups sugar for our taste but it depends on the fruit. And I don’t peel any of the fruit, although I do run the plum through a food mill after it’s cooked. A lot of the pectin in fruit is in the peel, apparently.

I’ve never had any luck with blueberries!


Well, it tasted like jam…baked a MULBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE SUNDAY. Only 2 pieces left!


I don’t use pectin either. In 2017 there were a lot of fruit so any not good looking pluots, plums, figs, grapes, that couldn’t be dried, turned into jam. Each type of fruit was done separately . I removed the seed but not the skin. The roughly chopped fruit were put into a big pot, with water covering the bottom of the pot so it wouldn’t burn. After boiling for a few minutes the fruit softened, I turned off the flame and used the hand blender, right in the pot, to get a nice consistency. I added some sugar as preservative but not much, and let it boil gently again to evaporate the extra water. Stir with a long handle wooden spoon, and please be careful about the pop up bubbles so you don’t get burn. After cooling on the counter for an hour or so they went into the Ball jars, (*)
and then the freezer. It needs one night to defrost, and will keep for a week in the refrigerator. They can be used on ice cream, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or for grape in some juice. After two years they still taste as good as before. This year we are kind of tired of having the same thing. Recently, for the new blackberries, I rinse, dry on paper towel, put in ziploc bags and keep them in the freezer for making smoothies.

(*) Edit: For each jar, I sealed the top with a double-layered of cling wrap before closing the lid, to keep the lid clean, the jar airtight, and the jam mold free.


I’ve made 16 pints of strawberry jam and 8 half pints of honeyberry jam so far this year. The remaining strawberries are getting frozen this year, I’m done making strawberry jam for now.

For strawberry jam, I found a no pectin recipe years ago but can’t find it again to give credit to the original author. Basically you macerate the berries in sugar and lemon juice over night in the fridge. Then you separate the berries from the liquid and cook that down until it’s a thick sryup, length of time depends on how much sugar you add and the water content of your berries. Then you mash the berries up a bit and add them to the sryup and cook until it’s set enough to your liking. It results in a looser Jam, but it’s really good and you can add as little or as much sugar as fits your tastes. I’ve also used the above recipe for a strawberry ice cream topping, where you don’t cook until it sets but is a sryup with strawberry chunks.

I also had my first jar ever crack in the canner. The bottom sheared right off.


I made some blueberry elderberry wine jam. I made the wine with elderberries from last years pickings. It came out wonderfull. I was chunky from the blueberries and had a little tang from the wine.

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The only jelly I’ve made so far this year is damson plum. I’ve always heard how good damson plum jelly is, but I’ve bought a few jars here and there and thought it was too sweet, nothing special and maybe even not good at all. I ended up picking several gallons of damsons this year. They were starting to go bad so I steam juiced them then used the juice to make jelly. I used the sure-jell low sugar pectin and it turned out fantastic. It is one of the fruitiest tasting jellies I’ve had, nothing like the damson jelly I’ve tried in the past.


Tonight was the third time of this year making peach jam. All Autumn Star.


Did plum jam yesterday, all drop-before-ripened Coe’s Golden Drop. We cut up the plums and macerated them overnight.

It has more acid than peach jam but we like it.

Peach is on the left, plum is on the right.


Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit.


Some wild grape (V. labrusca ) jam I made in September. Grapes, sugar, and just enough water to get a simmer started. This batch was a little on the firmer side of what I shoot for, but tasted great!


How easily does prickly pear gel? Do you need to add pectin?

Yes, you have to add pectin.

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Cool. I may have to try that with my O. humifusa fruits once they start coming in abundantly. They’re too small and seedy to really be worth eating more than a few fresh, but I bet the pulp would make a nice jam.

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