Jams & Jellies
Preserving your own jams and jellies from sun-ripened fruits grown close to home offers rewards far beyond the contents of the jar. Anyone who’s “put up” food will tell you it’s deeply satisfying to stock a pantry with fruits of your own labor.
Canning connects you with generations of cooks who preserved food for their families’ sustenance. Visit a local orchard or berry farm with your children and friends, then invite them into the kitchen to help with the canning. As a reward, you’ll end up with beautiful, shelf-stable jars to give as gifts or keep on hand for transforming everyday dishes.
Stir jams into hot tea, swirl into plain yogurt or add to smoothies, oatmeal or desserts.
Traditional jellies, jams and other preserves are cooked combinations of fruit, sugar and pectin, but their distinctions suit them for various uses.
- Jellies are clear gels made from the strained juices of cooked fruit. They are firm enough to keep their shape on a spoon, but tender enough for smooth spreading on biscuits or bread.
- Jams have a thick, fairly uniform consistency of crushed or finely chopped fruit, which are ideal textures for filling cakes and cookies.
- Preserves contain larger fruit pieces in a soft jelly, spooning easily over textured muffins, artisan breads and cheeses.
- It’s important to keep up with safe canning techniques based on the latest research and also only use recipes tested for safety. Our tested recipes are offered courtesy of Ball canning.
Other reliable recipe sources include state university extension websites or the sites and recent publications of major canning equipment manufacturers. Ball offers printable canning guides at www.freshpreserving.com.
Follow these tested recipes exactly. Reducing sugar or using sugar substitutes not called for in proven recipes may gel formation and can lead to unsafe storage.
When canning, resist the temptation to multiply a recipe for a greater yield. The longer cooking time required by a bigger batch may result in a darker, product with overcooked flavors.
When jam is preserved at home using prime, fresh produce, you’ve got a real treasure. Spoon it into smoothies, oatmeal or desserts.
Potent in flavor, color and usefulness, jams, jellies and other preserves may be the most untapped riches in your pantry or fridge. Use them to boost flavors in day-to-day cooking. Here are a few ideas to unlock possibilities.
As a sweetener:
- Muddle into sun tea with mint leaves before chilling.
- Whisk berry jam into vinaigrettes.
- Microwave just to melt, then stir into fresh fruit mixture.
As a filling:
- Spoon into the center of muffin or cupcake batter before baking.
- Cut a pocket in French bread and spread with cream cheese and jam for stuffed French toast.
As a topping:
- Stir to soften and serve over ice cream or cheesecake.
- Use warm preserves as a pancake topping or crepe filling.
- Spoon over crackers topped with Brie, goat cheese or cream cheese.
For sauces and glazes:
- Stir into barbecue sauce for brushing over chicken, chops or burgers near end of grilling.
- Thin with a little vinegar and mustard as a glaze for ham or roast pork.