Jam Session

Capture the season as its sweet peak by including homemade fruit jam as a topping and much more. We give you canning instructions, plus recipes for a cake, cookies and other perfectly paired foods.

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.

Preserving your own jams and jellies from sun-ripened fruits grown close to home offers rewards far beyond the contents of the jar.

The Basics

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.

Quick Jam recipes >

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.

Capture the summer season at its sweet peak by making your own homemade jam.

Sweet Secrets

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.
The right ratio of almond extract to lemon peel sets a luscious stage for a triple sampling of jams and a crown of whipped cream.
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Four-Layer Jam Cake

Taking a cue from Italian bakers, we added ground almonds to cake batter to create moist, stackable layers. You can grind almonds yourself in a food processor or use purchased almond meal, also called almond flour. The right ratio of almond extract to lemon peel sets a luscious stage for a triple sampling of jams and a crown of whipped cream.

Recipe >

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Linzer Cookies use flaky wafers to show off homemade jam or jelly.
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Peanut Butter & Jelly Linzer Cookies

Peanut butter makes these flaky wafers the ultimate platform for showing off homemade jam or jelly. Little windows give a peek into the filling inside. Assemble them a day ahead for soft cookies or an hour or two before serving for crisp ones. Need treats for spur-of-the-moment guests or to satisfy a sudden craving? Baked cutouts can be frozen then assembled quickly.

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Serve Savory Apricot Crostini as an appetizer on a toasted baguette slice topped with feathery arugula sprigs.
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​Savory Apricot Crostini

Complex, competing flavors such as pungent goat cheese and smoky prosciutto need a sweet mediator. Marry them with gently flavored apricot jam. Serve as an appetizer on a toasted baguette slice and top with feathery arugula sprigs.

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Cornmeal gives a crisp snap to these not-so-sweet Peach & Blueberry Cornmeal Cookies, subtly seasoned with flecks of fresh rosemary.
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​Peach & Blueberry Cornmeal Cookies

Cornmeal gives a crisp snap to not-so-sweet shortbread cookies, subtly seasoned with flecks of fresh rosemary. Complementing the woodsy herb are peach and blueberry jams, added toward the end of baking. Drizzle with a sugary frosting as a final touch.

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Bring together two of summer's best treats in one dessert: Homemade Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit.
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​Homemade Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit

Bring together two of summer’s best treats in one dessert: homemade ice cream and sweet, juicy berries. Before the ice cream hardens completely, fold in your choice of berry jam and a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen berries. When it’s time to dig in, creamy white scoops will be woven with waves of bright fruit. No topping can do it justice. You can create this ripple effect with purchased ice cream as well.

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