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Making Jams and Jellies

Making Jam without Added Pectin

Wash and rinse all fruits thoroughly before cooking. Do not soak. For best flavor, use fully ripe fruit. Remove stems, skins, and pits from fruit; cut into pieces and crush. For berries, remove stems and blossoms and crush. Seedy berries may be put through a sieve or food mill. Measure crushed fruit into large saucepan using the ingredient quantities specified in Table 1.

Add sugar and bring to a boil while stirring rapidly and constantly. Continue to boil until mixture thickens. Use one of the following tests to determine when jams and jellies are ready to fill. Remember to allow for thickening during cooling.

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Temperature test: Use a jelly or candy thermometer and boil until mixture reaches the temperature for your altitude (Table 3). For more information see "Making Jelly Without Added Pectin".

Refrigerator test: Remove the jam mixture from the heat. Pour a small amount of boiling jam on a cold plate and put it in the freezing compartment of a refrigerator for a few minutes. If the mixture gels, it is ready to fill.

Remove from heat and skim off foam quickly. Fill sterile jars with jam. For more information see "Sterilization of Empty Jars". Use a measuring cup or ladle the jam through a wide-mouthed funnel, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process. Recommended process times are listed in Table 2.

Table 1. Ingredient Quantities.
Fruit Cups Crushed Fruit Cups Sugar Tbs. Lemon Juice Yield (Half-pints)
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.

Table 2. Recommended process time for Jams without Added Pectin in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or pints 5 min 10 15

Table 3. Temperature Test - Use a jelly or candy thermometer and boil until mixture reaches the following temperatures at altitudes of:
Sea Level 1,000 ft 2,000 ft 3,000 ft 4,000 ft 5,000 ft 6,000 ft 7,000 ft 8,000 ft
220°F 218°F 216°F 214°F 212°F 211°F 209°F 207°F 205°F

This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009.

Reviewed November 2009.

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