Freezer Jam, Low Sugar, No Pectin

“One berry, two berry, pick me a Blueberry !”
“Hatberry, Shoeberry in my Canoeberry;”
“Under the bridge and over the dam,”
“Looking for Berries – Berries for Jam !”

(from Bruce Degens, “Jamberry”)

Summer makes me happy, and summer fruits are the happy dance part. Last week we were running unbearably low, so I asked Husband Kain if he could stop by a fruit stand on his drive home from work and pick up any good deals.

So he did.

Yes this picture is my kitchen floor, not the fruit stand’s. (Will you dance with me?)

Since then, instead of blogging, I could be found in the kitchen pretty much non-stop (I asked for it!), canning, dehydrating, poaching, freezing, jamming…

nectarine freezer jam

Freezer jam is always a favorite, it is so packed with flavor, the process goes quickly, and my freezer (that I finally cleaned out) looks so colorful now with all the fruit and berry freezer jams stacked high.

Freezer Jam

With children, from set up to clean up it takes us about 15 minutes to: clean, peel, and chop fruit, add sugar, lemon juice, and instant pectin, then stir 3 minutes and pour into containers one batch of freezer jam. (Recipes are on the pectin containers.) But about that pectin…


Pectin certainly makes for an amazingly quick jam session, but it starts to get expensive when making several batches over and over.

Here’s the thing about pectin: not only is it an added cost to making jam, but commercial pectin adds a sour/bitter taste so more sugar is added to the jam recipe, a lot of times equal amounts of fruit and sugar are called for, sometime more sugar than fruit. That’s just not right. This was one of those ‘ah HA’ moments for me, which took way too many years to arrive at, but now that I get it I must share.

Since fruit has it’s own natural ‘pectin’, if we cook it, most fruit will thicken on it’s own without adding pectin. Granted cooking adds another 20-30 minutes or so to the time, but it is an option to make freezer (or canned) jam without pectin and less sugar and lots of natural fruit flavor. So I have been doing this now.

Another option on my to-do list to try in the near future is making my own pectin with under-ripe apples or the cores and peelings. A great post on this can be found here.

No Pectin Jam

You can make pectinless jam with most fruits plus sweetner. The following example is with blueberries, done early this summer. Blueberries are normally low in pectin, but it made a beautiful jam for me. Note that it is best to work in smaller batches to insure the jam sets.

I started with 6 cups of berries (2 lbs of blueberries), washed, then mash directly in a pot over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until it’s soupy.

Add 2 cups of sweetener, honey preferably but I’m currently out, so sugar it is (or other sweetner).

Mix it in and bring it to a boil. Let it boil while you continue to stir, for about 20 minutes or more… until it starts to thicken.

The ‘dribble jam on a frozen plate and see if it thickens’ thing has never worked very well for me, but on both batches of blueberries I worked with, the 20-25 minute time ended up just right, although some fruits may need more cook time.  Jams thicken even more once completely cooled.

Ta Da! That’s it.

Since I was freezing in plastic containers, I let it cool slightly before transfering it into freezer containers. Then label and freeze.

You certainly could waterbath this jam since it’s already hot (10 minutes for half-pint jam jars)


just eat it NOW!

You can always make jam in the winter with frozen fruit…which I have a feeling I will be doing with some peaches I haven’t gotten to yet. Well, if we don’t eat them all (it is our 3rd box though, one would think these children are ‘peached’ out)

I hope to encourage you to enjoy the pleasure of summer fruits in your very own homemade jam this winter, maybe even with less sugar and no pectin. Let me know if you made some for the first time! Remember if it turns out runny, just call it ice cream topping or pancake syrup. It’ll be perfect!


27 responses to “Freezer Jam, Low Sugar, No Pectin

  1. Sherry. Thank you soooo much for this! What’s crazy is that I am always making syrup for the kids’ pancakes out of fresh berries (or frozen) and I have gotten it VERY thick when I have cooked it “too long”, like a jam consistency and I just didn’t put 2 and 2 together since I guess I just automatically think, add pectin when making jam! LOL! Our family LOVES freezer jam so much better than canned…it tastes fresher! YUM-O! We miss you guys! We have loved getting to see the kids when they have come down to see their grandparents though!

  2. And I say it again: Sherry, I love your blog–not only for the actual content, which is fun, uplifting, and enjoyable, but mostly for the “joie de vivre” with which you write and live. Love you!

  3. I just started making jam because of the wonderful jam i had in southern France. I tried a different recipe with strawberries and pectin and was very disappointed. This recipe with blueberries was OUTSTANDING. It tasted better than any jam i have ever had. I had to use sugar but will try with honey next time.

    • Thanks Molly, so thankful it is helpful to someone else. It should last in your freezer a year, I haven’t made enough to last that long so it is just a guess from past freezer jam experiences.

  4. I am going to make white nectarine freezer jam- so 6 cups fruit- mashed up , 2 cups sugar and no lemon juice needed? I hope you see this today as i am about to start chopping! you can reply to

    • Oops, I’m a few hours late. Did it turn out just as you hoped? It sounds delicious. Not being a scientist, the little I know is that the lemon juice adds acid to fruits that need more acid to gel, and helps lighter fruits not discolor.

  5. I have never made blueberry jam because I thought it would be very difficult. Next time I need to remember to use a much bigger pot to cook the berries. I used sugar instead of honey. Is there a difference in taste between the sugar and honey in the mixture? Thanks for posting this great recipe.

    • Good point about the size of pot to use Joann…I will add that. If honey is added at the same ratio as sugar it is much sweeter, so I usually use much less honey. Thanks for your questions!

  6. Sherry, Thank you so much for this recipe. I just made it. It came out quite thick even before it was chilled, just on the counter for 30 min to cool. I was wondering what your yield was on 6 cups of berries. I got a pint and a half and I did boil n stir for 25 minutes. That seems low for 6 cups of blueberries. Did I do something wrong? Also, would there be a way to make it less sweet? I used your ratio of 2 cups of sugar to the 6 cups of berries which is way way less than most recipes which call for almost even amts of sugar and fruit. Thanks again and I appreciate any advice you may have.

    • Nancy, don’t you love how 2cups of sugar is now too sweet when the pectin is nixed?! Feel free to cut that amount down more, you just may have to cook it longer. Usually I get just about two pints with this ratio of fruit/sugar. I really don’t know enough to tell you why you got less…sorry! Guesses could be the (blueberries?) berries used were smaller so there was more natural pectin in the skins and less juice in the berry? (I don’t know but it sounds good!)

  7. Wow! Thank you so much for this recipe. Ran out of jam today and no car. My four year old was not happy about this at all! In July I picked huckleberries for the first time ever and they have been in freezer since because I had no idea what to do with them. (We ate our fill on ice-cream, and in pancakes) This recipe was spot on and so easy to do, even though I had NO idea what I was doing. I have never made jam before and it turned out beautifully. Made me excited to pick more huckleberries next. Thanks again from a stranded momma with a lil bugger who has a really bad pea
    nut butter and jelly habit!

  8. Do you think this would work with just juice, like purchased pomegranate juice? My grandson wanted a jelly that was red or purple, but he cannot have grapes or berries and should not have much pectin, so this would be perfect for him, if it would work.

    • I really don’t know the answer to that. From what I understand, the natural pectin is mostly in the skin of the fruit, and any jelly I have made the whole fruit has been used and then the thickened juice strained out, so my guess is it would end up more like a syrup…which would be amazing on pancakes, so it sure wouldn’t hurt to try and if it doesn’t thicken oh well. It IS pomegranate season (which makes me happy!) so maybe cook the juice with actual pomagrante seeds (and strain)? Hmmm…I may try that myself. If I do I will let you know what happens.

  9. I just used my frozen blackberries to make this jam for my grandkids. Tastes great! Put some in the freezer, one in the refrigerator. How long does it last in the refrigerator? I washed all my containers but didn’t sterilize….should I have? Thanks!

    • Yum…what a great grandma 🙂
      Sterilized is always nice, but I don’t for fridge/freezer jam either.
      With teenagers, a batch never lasts us more than a couple days, so not sure how long it will last in the refrigerator, but guessing at least 2-3 weeks?

  10. I used the without pectin recipe last summer for the first time. It made the best blackberry sauce! So of course I’m using it again 🙂 I have a pot on the stove right now and will make another batch tomorrow. Thank you so much!

  11. Pingback: Make it Monday – Blueberry (Freezer) Jam |·

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