Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blackberry Jam Tutorial

Berry season is in full swing here in Kansas which means it is time to make lots of yummy jam, hopefully enough to last us until next summer. Jam making is a really easy and fun thing to do. It doesn't take nearly as long as one might think. Last night I decided to quickly can a batch of raspberry jam after dinner. The whole process including clean up only took about an hour or so. Although I did have help with the kids so that made things go quicker.

Today I thought I would give a quick tutorial on making jam. I have pictures from last weeks blackberry jam day. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have everything ready before you get started.

You will need...

7 1/2 cups berries
7 1/2 cups sugar
1 package fruit pectin (1 3/4 oz)
Around 8 half pint canning jars with lids and rings
2 large stock pots (I do not have a canner, so if you are new to canning you can start with stock pots)
Jar lifter
Magnetic wand
Canning funnel

The last 3 items are easily found at most grocery stores or Walmart in a kit.

Lets get started!

Start by measuring out your fruit and dumping in into the stock pot. You can use fresh or frozen. This time around I used frozen. Next measure your sugar and set it aside. You can see that I got my box of pectin on clearance. I also had a coupon which made it around $.70!

Yes, this time I did use white sugar due to cost. Yesterday I discovered a low to no sugar recipe that I used for the raspberry jam. I will give you the recipe at the bottom of this post. The process is the same just with 2 different ingredients.

Here is a picture of my fruit and pectin in the stock pot. Do not turn on the heat yet. Set this aside and get the rest of your utensils ready first.

Here is a picture of what you will need. Please excuse my daughters finger. The first item on the left is the magnetic wand that you will need to help you pick up the lids and rings out of the hot water. Next is of course the canning lid and a ring. The last 2 items are a funnel and a jar grabber for pulling your jars out of the boiling water.

The next step is to take all your lids and rings and put them in a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil and make sure you keep these very hot until you are ready for them. This helps to keep things sterile as well as help the jars to seal properly. When you are ready for them use your magnetic wand to pick them up with. My daughter loves to help with this part.

Speaking of helpers here are 2 of them. We did this during Jack's nap time. There is no way I would let a 2 year old boy near this process. He likes to help too much.

To get your jars ready for use you need to place them in boiling water for about 10 minutes to make sure they are sterile and then keep them warm in your oven until you are ready for them. I turn my oven on to the lowest setting to keep them warm, but not too hot. Normally these would be sitting up, but the baby decided to get cranky and I had to hurry and get them in. For some reason they would not stay up. I guess I could have used a cookie sheet, but in my hurry that did not occur to me.

Now you should be ready to start cooking. Turn your burner on medium to medium high heat and make sure to keep stirring your fruit with the pectin in it constantly. You do not want to have any stick to the bottom or it will burn and ruin the whole batch. Keep stirring and crushing the fruit with your spoon until it looks like this and continues to boil even when you are stirring.

At this point add your sugar and keep stirring until the mixture returns to a boil. Boil everything for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and get your jars out and ready to fill. You will want to do this quickly because you need your jam to remain very hot. It will also start to gel quickly at this point.

Set your funnel on top of a jar and use a clean ladle to fill them. Make sure to leave about 1/4 to 1/8 inch head space between the jam and the top of the jar. Use a clean damp cloth to make sure the rim of the jar is completely clean. You also want to inspect one last time to make sure your jars do not have any nicks or jam on the rim or they will not seal.

Next use your wand and place a lid on top and then tighten with a ring.

After you have all of your jars filled use your jar grabber to lower the jars into boiling water. You need to make sure you have around1-2 inches of water over the top of the jars.

Here is a picture of all of my jars in the water. Process your jars in the boiling water for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes remove the jars with your jar grabber and place on a towel.

Here is a picture of the finished product. You want to make sure these are left alone to cool for 12-24 hours. You will know they are sealed properly when you push on the top of the lid and they do not pop back. If it does then you need to store that jar in the fridge and eat it soon. If they are all sealed you can store them in the cupboard and use as needed. Do not be surprised if you hear popping sounds as the jars are cooling. That is a good sign. The sound is the lids sealing.

I just love the look of lots of colorful jars of jam in my cabinet. Hopefully soon I will be able to do a tutorial on canning tomatoes and preserving other items from your garden to be used all winter. This is on of the cheapest, healthiest way I am able to feed my family.

Here is the low sugar recipe you could use instead.

4 cups berries
1 package no sugar needed pectin (very important)
1 cup apple juice
1 cup honey (optional)

I used this recipe last night and doubled it to make 8 jars of jam.

If you have any questions about this process or need clarification please leave me a comment so I can fix things. Thanks


  1. Thank you for this! It is very helpful.

  2. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain the process and add the pictures! As someone who has never tried this but want to, I read about the process in Better Homes and Garden but there weren't pictures. I especially appreciate the fact that you mention that stock pots can be used as well as where to get the wand and other items. Thanks!!! Judy

  3. I forgot to ask this question yesterday, but the stock pot -- does it have to be a certain material? I like the porcelain/enamel ones, is that okay? (I only ask because you used a silver one). Would nonstick work?

  4. Lori, have you ever tried sealing your jars in the oven instead of a boiling water bath? I used to do this when I made jam. You put your jars in the oven on a low temp -- 225 or so -- and then leave them until you hear the lids pop. It works also. Just another method.


  5. Dreamer,

    I would think it would not matter what kind of pot you used. As long as you get the jars hot enough to seal it should be fine.


    Thanks for the great idea. I will have to try it next time. It seems like most of my time is spent waiting on the water to boil anyway.