Make Your Own Jam

Many store-bought jams, jellies and preserves contain more sugar than fruit. While you do need some sugar, it’s really the fruit you want to taste! Simple ingredients and a little bit of simmering and you’ll have the best tasting fruit spread imaginable.

Many store-bought jams, jellies and preserves contain more sugar than fruit. While you do need some sugar, it’s really the fruit you want to taste! With a few simple ingredients and a little bit of simmering,  you’ll have the best-tasting fruit spread imaginable.

Ingredients

Take your pick of juicy, sweet fruit. Berries, peaches, plums, figs and cherries top my list of favorites. You can even use citrus, rinds and all -- then it’s called marmalade. Combine fruit with sugar and lemon juice,  simmer until thick, and you’re in business. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of fruit you choose and how finely it’s chopped. I like mine a bit on the chunky side, which takes a little longer.

You can make jams the old fashioned way by cooking down until thick and gooey – the sugar and natural substances (called pectin) in the fruit, helps the jam gel. A batch of my Strawberry-Thyme Jam (recipe below) takes about 30 minutes.

To thicken things up a little faster, extra pectin can be added.  Packaged pectin powder or liquid is made from apples or citrus, and is available at most grocery stores. Pectin does need the proper balance of sugar and acid to be effective, so follow directions on the box carefully.

While your fruit and sugar concoction cooks down, skim away any foam that accumulates on the sides of the pot. Since jam doesn’t reach its full thickness until it’s completely cooled, it can be hard to tell when it’s done. Place a small spoonful on an ice-cold plate – if it gels, you’re good to go.

Storage

The easiest way to store homemade jam is in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. For longer storage, the jam needs to be properly canned. For extra-special presentation, try making your own labels -- homemade jam makes great gifts!

Learn more about canning and check out our interview with Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of a new book on all kinds of methods for food preservation.

Strawberry-Thyme Jam

Makes 2 cups
6 cups fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Combine ingredients in a non-reactive pot and toss well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened (about 30 minutes). Cool to room temperature. Transfer to resealable containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Nutrition info per tablespoon:
Calories: 35 calories
Total Fat: 0 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 9 grams
Protein: 0 grams
Sodium: 0 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 0.5 gram
More recipes to try:
Keep Reading

Next Up

Make Your Own Croissants

Try these buttery bite-sized treats at your next get-together. They're full of flavor but have just 59 calories per croissant.

Make Your Own Hummus

Hummus may be an old favorite to some, but still foreign to others. Here is the skinny on this healthy spread and some recipes to try.

Make Your Own Twinkies

Twinkies' ingredient list includes highly-processed ingredients like trans fats, processed sweeteners and preservatives. Avoid all this stuff by making your own instead!

Make Your Own Popsicles

My kids absolutely love ice pops! Instead of buying store brands packed with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, I make my own using the freshest ingredients. They’re easy and fun for the whole family.

Make Your Own Pudding

When I was a little girl, my dad’s specialty was chocolate pudding. Believe me, if my dad can do it so can you (burnt eggs were also on the menu).

Make Your Own Babaganoush

In the Middle East it’s traditional to find babaganoush with appetizers like hummus, tahini, pita bread and olives. Here's how to make your own.

Make Your Own Applesauce

When you start seeing the apple bushels at the market, you know it's prime time for applesauce. Pass on the jarred stuff and whip up a batch of your own. It's easy (we promise), and you won’t believe the delicious difference.

Make Your Own Granola

Granola is the classic healthy food, right? Not exactly. Many packaged granola mixes are drowning in sugar, fat and calories, but don't worry -- there are ways to work it into a healthy diet, especially when you make your own.

Make Your Own Popcorn

Why not host your own movie party and serve up some homemade popcorn? It’s quick, easy and won’t disappoint your taste buds.

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.