Guest Post: Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam (from Food in Jars)

26 Reviews / 4.9 Average
Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars shows us just how simple it is to make a small batch of her delicious Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam. This recipe is great for beginners or those who don't want to can a large batch.
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Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam from Food in Jars at 100 Days of #RealFood

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This post is by Marisa McClellan, creator of the popular blog Food in Jars. Marisa is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated farmers market shopper who lives in Center City Philadelphia. She is the author of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round and Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces. Find more of her jams, pickles, and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) on her website, Food in Jars.


I am so delighted to be here sharing my small batch recipe for Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam. Most people think that making jam has to be a giant process that takes all day, uses multiple pounds of sugar, and dirties every utensil in the kitchen. But there’s another faster way that it can be done with honey in place of sugar, and it’s endlessly delicious.

Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam from Food in Jars at 100 Days of #RealFood

The secret is in the small batch, cooked in a low, wide pan like a frying pan or a high sided skillet. The pan creates a lot of surface area, which means that you can cook the moisture out of the fruit more quickly and create a nice, solid set rapidly and without the amounts of sweetener that are typically called for in jam making.

Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam from Food in Jars at 100 Days of #RealFood

You start with a quart of blueberries. If you’re going by weight, it’s an even 1 1/2 pounds. Wash them well and then tumble them into a low, wide pan. You want to pick one made from a non-reactive metal like stainless steel, enameled cast iron, or anodized aluminum. Use a potato masher (or employ a small child to help!) and mash the berries.

Add 2/3 cup of honey (if you have a kitchen scale, plunk the pan right on top of it, zero out the weight, and pour in 8 ounces of honey). Stir in the juice from half a lemon, put the pan on the stove and bring it to a boil.

Once it boils, you cook the fruit for about ten minutes until it thickens. You can tell that it’s done when you can draw a line through the jam with your spatula and the space stays open for a moment.

Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam from Food in Jars at 100 Days of #RealFood

Once it’s done, you have two choices. You can funnel it right into a jar, let it cool, and then stash it in the fridge for immediate consumption. It will keep there for three to four weeks. Or, you can divide it between a couple clean, hot jars, apply new lids and rings, and process them in a boiling water bath canner to make the jars shelf stable.

If you do go through this extra step, know that the jars don’t have to be sterilized before filling. They just need to be clean and hot. The boiling water bath will serve as the sterilization step just fine.

I like to use an asparagus steamer as a tiny batch canning pot because you can stack a couple wide mouth half pints right inside the wire cage and it doesn’t take much time or energy to bring to a boil. However, any stock pot will do, as long as you slip a rack under the jars (like a round cake cooling rack or even a dish towel or layer of mason jar rings will do) to keep them from rattling against the bottom of the pot. A pasta pot with straining insert makes a really good canning pot.

If you’re looking for more detail about setting up your own canning post, I have a post on my site that details the process.

Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam from Food in Jars at 100 Days of #RealFood

This same technique will work with nearly all fruit (except apples don’t do well when treated like this), but do give it a try with strawberries, or later in the summer with apricots, nectarines, or plums. You can also vary the flavorings. As you’ll see, the batch I made was quite basic, but you can add a little spice, a bit of vanilla bean, or even a sprig of fresh mint or basil (just pull it out at the end of cooking).

FAQ

Q: Can I make this recipe with fruits other than blueberries?
A: Yes! However, blueberries have a good deal of pectin naturally, so you may have to cook other fruits a bit longer in order to get a satisfyingly thick consistency.

Q: Can I make this jam with frozen fruit?
A: Yes! Defrost the fruit fully before combining it with the honey. Take note that it may need an additional minute or two of cooking, because frozen fruit will release more liquid than fresh.

Q: Can I skip the boiling water bath process and just freeze this jam?
A: Yes! Funnel it into freezer containers and leave about an inch of space up at the top to allow for expansion. Let the jam cool to room temperature before placing the containers in the freezer. If you choose to freeze in glass jars, make sure that you use jars that have straight sides, as there’s less risk of breakage that way.

Q: Can I double or triple this recipe?
A: I don’t recommend it. The reason this jam works so well without any additional pectin has everything to do with the small batch size. If you increase the volume in the pan, that makes it harder for the fruit to cook down efficiently. If you have a very, very large, wide pan, you can try a double batch.

If you want to make much larger batches of honey sweetened jam, I recommend looking into Pomona’s Pectin. It’s a natural product that allows you to get a really satisfying set with any sweetener. There’s a really terrific cookbook called Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin that will give you all the detail you need.

Q: Can I use something other than lemon juice?
A: For those of you who can’t have citrus, try using a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon. It will balance the flavor in the same way.

Q: How much does this recipe yield?
A: You should get between 2 and 3 half pints from a batch this size. The yield will vary a bit depending on how much water is in the fruit and how long you cook it.

Q: Can I reduce the amount of honey?
A: Yes. However, know that the honey isn’t just a sweetener when you make jam. It also plays a role in helping the jam set up. So if you reduce the honey, you may have to cook it a bit longer to get it to be truly jammy. And of course, the yield will be less because you’ve reduced the total starting volume.

Q: Can I use agave instead of honey?
A: Yes! Agave will work just as well.

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  1. If you freeze it, do you have to do the whole canning process? Or can you just put it in the jars and into the freezer (once cooled).

    Also, can you use frozen berries for this?

    Looking forward to trying this out! I picked 8 cups of blueberries yesterday in about 30 minutes, and I have tons in freezer from last year still. Looking for a way to use these up!

  2. Can this recipe be used with same amounts for blackberries or does lemon juice need to be increased b/c of acid – and can it still be canned not frozen?

  3. Thanks for clarifying that Marisa. When writing recipes typically the measurements are given by volume and not by weight. That’s why the measurement seemed contradictory to me.

    1. Actually, it’s only North American recipes that typically use volume measurements. Ingredients are usually listed by weight everywhere else in the world.

      When a recipe lists two different measurements, one is a volume measurement and the other is the weight. Example:
      1 quart blueberries (1½ pounds)
      .

  4. Hello????
    8 oz = 1 cup, not 2/3 cup. That would be 5.33oz and while this probably isn’t a critical measurement one would think that someone that writes recipes and puts them on line would know how many ounces are in a cup. Just sayin’

  5. 5 stars
    I tried this jam for the first time today. It was so easy and tasted awesome! Even my Mom loved (who is old school with sugar and certo pectin). This recipe will be a staple for jam making every year. Thank you!

  6. well i’m s o impressed by this recipe, thank you for sharing! i went strawberry picking with my 6y and 4y today and we made 19 jars/cups! they are so good! it took 25-30 min per batch to thicken up for us though but it’s a nice thick jam, wow! and the smell in the house, yummmm ;)

    1. Is it safe to use maple syrup in this recipe instead of honey? I really hate to use my organic, raw honey for cooking! Thank you!

  7. How does this recipe turn out in regards to thickness? Two summers ago I made the strawberry jam listed on the website but found it very runny. I even boiled it longer to try to thicken it up. The consistency was between jam and fruit syrup, is this new recipe better for having a jam consistency?

    1. Blueberries have more natural pectin that strawberries do, so it should set up more firmly than the strawberry jam. However, jams made without additional pectin are never going to be as firm as grocery store jams. They are always going to have a softer set. If you want to make a honey sweetened jam that is quite firm, I suggest looking into Pomona’s Pectin. It will give you a very firm finished product.

  8. Will it make enough for 1 pint? We have a large family and using those little jars are pointless. We go through a pint quickly. If i use a pint and want to process it, will it still be 10 minutes processing? Or longer?

    1. Yes. The recipe makes just over a pint of jam and you can certainly can it in a single jar. The processing time is still ten minutes, even with the larger jar. You’d only increase the processing time if you moved up to a 24 or 32 ounce jar.

      1. Thank you!! I love that there isn’t any added sugar. Off to make a pint right now!

  9. This sounds great! I love the fact that it uses honey and not sugar. Wish I had a blueberry patch here in Texas! Keep the recipes coming.

    Thanks!!

  10. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m excited to check out your blog. I love the idea of using the wide pan to reduce cooking time. I do a lot of low sugar jam recipes too, but haven’t had success without using some pectin. I’ll have to try your way.

  11. This turned out so great! I went out to get your new book today and it was nowhere to be found in all of Jacksonville, FL! I’ll be ordering it on amazon, I believe I have a new hobby!

  12. I just found this recipe for the jam! Can’t wait to try it. Just picked blueberries yesterday!! I can use the same recipe for peaches??

  13. 5 stars
    I’m in LOVE with this amazing recipe! My daughter and I can’t get enough of it. What an awesome way to use our delicious, organic, hand-picked blueberries (and, oh do we have a lot of them!). Thanks so much for sharing it.

    1. P.S. I found that I can get by without about half the recommended amount of honey (the quality organic stuff) and still end up with a sweet result. :)

      1. Remember, the honey isn’t just serving as a sweetener. It also acts as a thickener and a preservative. It’s perfectly safe to reduce the honey, but it will reduce how thick the product will get and how long it will last in the fridge.

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve wanted to try canning for a long time but have always been nervous about it. This post came at just the right time as we picked about 5 pounds of blueberries at a local farm this weekend.

    We got home, and I got over myself and did it! We got 2 half-pints with just a little leftover. The family descended on the remaining jam and are now begging me to open one of the jars. I’m still grinning that I actually did it that I won’t let them have one yet.

    Thank you so much!!

  15. Sounds good! Looking forward to making it! Can you use the same recipe with strawberries instead of blueberries?

  16. This recipe could not have come at a better time. I have been wanting to make blueberry jam without commercial pectin & tons of sugar. I have 2 lbs. of fresh blueberries, new jars & lids, all my equipment so I am ready to go thanks to you! Hubby ordered my birthday gift early and I can’t wait to get your new book in the mail next week!

  17. Cannot wait to try this. We took our children out to the blueberry farm this morning and picked 3 gallons of pesticide/chemical free blueberries and they taste so great. I’m thinking we may go back and pick more before the season ends as we LOVE blueberries!

    1. Oops, so sorry! I meant to put that in the recipe. You should get between two and three half pints. My yield for this batch was two half pints and one quarter pint, but depending on how much you cook it, you might get a little bit more.

  18. if using raspberries or seeded berries how would you go about removing the seeds before cooking to make seedless jelly? thanks

    1. I would puree the fruit and push it through a fine mesh sieve before cooking. You’ll need to start out with more fruit to get the same yield, though, as you’ll be straining out about a third of the primary ingredient before starting to cook.

  19. Love your blog and small batch recipes, Marisa, and I was so sorry to miss you when you were here in Portland! You say you like an asparagus steamer because you can stack a couple of wide mouth half pints for processing. I thought you weren’t supposed to stack jars when water bath canning. Can you really do this? That would just really change my world!

  20. Darrell (MFP UCCE San Bernardino, CA)

    The 2/3 cup is a volume measurement.
    The 8 oz. is a weight measurement.
    Most solids, semi-solids and liquids in cooking weigh what they measure. Oil, water, butter, shortening, milk, margarine, vinegar as examples. 1 cup 8 oz. volume weigh 8 oz. on the scale.
    Sugar and sugar syrups are an exception.
    Powders are an exception. (salt, flour, pwd.sugar, yeast, etc…)
    Thanks
    Darrell

  21. You mentioned nectarines but not peaches. Will it work for peaches or do I need to use sugar? If so will the ratio be 4 cups peaches to 2 cups sugar? Thanks.

    1. I was just listing a few of the options. Peaches work fine as well, though they do need to be peeled prior to jamming.

      You could also do this same thing with sugar and the two to one ratio you’ve suggested is the same one I use for most of my sugar sweetened jams.

    1. Darrell (MFP UCCE San Bernardino, CA)

      The 2/3 cup is a volume measurement.
      The 8 oz. is a weight measurement.
      Most solids, semi-solids and liquids in cooking weigh what they measure. Oil, water, butter, shortening, milk, margarine, vinegar as examples. 1 cup 8 oz. volume weigh 8 oz. on the scale.
      Sugar and sugar syrups are an exception.
      Powders are an exception. (salt, flour, pwd.sugar, yeast, etc…)
      Thanks
      Darrell

  22. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve been looking for a way to make jam without all the sugar, but I wasn’t sure how to preserve it without using sugar. Love that this recipe forgoes the pectin too. Can’t wait to try it out :)

  23. 5 stars
    Freezer jam is super easy. Just spoon into your containers as noted above. You can let them come to room temp before placing them in your freezer OR just deliver them right in! I make strawberry jam this way every year & I always seem to do it on the hottest, most humid day in June. This is a great way to get the same result.

    1. Do you have to do the whole canning process before freezing? Or can you just fill your jars and put in the freezer?

  24. 5 stars
    This is awesome! Thanks for showing us a great way to make small batches of jam without using tons of sugar. I like to really taste the freshness of the fruit in my jam, is the amount of honey imperative to make the recipe work or can it be adjusted depending on the sweetness of the fruit you are using? I can’t wait to try it & will likely try it with other fruits too. Have you ever done it with frozen fruit?

    1. The honey isn’t just sweetening the jam. It is also helping thicken and preserve it. So if you reduce the amount, the consistency may not be as thick and it won’t last as long on the shelf. That’s not to say that you can’t play around with it a little, but know that it will impact the finished product.

      You can try this same ratio of fruit to honey with other fruits, and it works beautifully with frozen fruit. I do recommend fully defrosting the fruit and draining some of the water off before using it to make jam.

  25. If you don’t want to go through the extra step of canning can you just throw these jars in the freezer?? This is what I do with my no sugar strawberry jam and it keeps for up to 12 months in the freezer.

  26. Thank you! I’m really excited about trying this.
    A but nervous about the sterilizing phase but I’ll give it a try :-)