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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
160 thoughts on “Guest Post: Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam (from Food in Jars)”
Can the fruits be strained to make a more jelly like spread?
It won’t set up if you do that. Jellies need additional pectin because they don’t have the fiber of the fruit playing a role in creating the set.
I use an immersible blender to get it as smooth as possible and it comes out perfectly.
I am trying to revert to a Whole Foods plant based diet. Would organic pure maple syrup work like honey for this process ?
After cooking the berries down and adding honey and lemon juice, do you funnel or strain before putting in jars. I plan to do the shelf preservation compared to refrigerator.
This is jam, not a jelly. No straining is required.
My boss bought me 10 pounds of fresh Michigan blueberries as a surprise. I decided I wanted to make jam for him as a thank you. He is diabetic and 7 cups of sugar in jam recipe is a no go for him. This jam was perfect. It set up wonderfully and has an amazingly fresh blueberry taste to it. I was thrilled to see this recipe and wanted to thank you for it.
Can I seal with paraffin?
No. That is not a safe or reliable method of sealing. It is not a technique that should ever be used these days.
I want to make this jam .
It says if we heat honey it is not good and also its natural uses will die
Can we add honey after the fruits are done
Can I blend the fruit instead of mashing it? Or roughly chop it in a food processor?
Pulsing it gently in a food processor works. Take care not to pulverize the berries though, as that breaks up their natural pectin.
Can I use lemon juice from store instead of fresh squeezed for blueberry jam? If so how much?
Sure. You’ll want about 1 1/2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice.
Thank you for this recipe! Was a great way to use surplus berries
I made one batch of this with blueberries and another batch with blueberries and a few peaches added in. I also made a batch of just peach. They all turned out great! I loved the flavor and there was no icky aftertaste like you get with commercial jam or jelly. My friend is on a very restricted diet due to an autoimmune disorder, but she can eat this because of the simple ingredeints of blueberries and honey from my back yard. Thank you for sharing!
I am very displeased about how this recipe only made 2 1/2, 8 ounce Mason jars. It was a waste of my time for such little outcome. :(
Wo. It said “small batch” right up front.
“Small Batch” usually means about 4 not 2. Why not just use a different recipe that takes the same amount of time for a bigger outcome. It is just rediculous who only makes 2 1/2 small jars at one time. I don’t know about you but I do not have so much time where I can do this 10 more times in one day.
I saw that you said agave would work. Is it the same amount as the honey?
I made a honey batch today and it tastes great! Set up really well. I pureed my berries as I don’t like chunky jam. That probably helped with the pectin/setting!
Honey and agave are interchangeable.
I used maple syrup instead of honey and found that I needed to boil it down 15 minutes instead of 10.
Would you need the two grated apples for rhubarb jam?
And do you have a guess on the proportion of rhubarb to honey? Or maybe the substitution of the sugar for honey?
Otherwise, I’ll experiment. I can always use it as a topping instead of a jam. And we enjoy adding our fresh jams to plain yoghurt rather than buying to over sweet pre made fruit yoghurts.
I like to use Chia seeds instead of pectin in my jam.
Jams thickened with chia seeds are not safe to can in a boiling water bath.
I was just wondering if I can make this recipe using white granulated sugar instead of honey? Thanks! :D
Do you have a recipe to can blueberries with honey. Not jam just the whole berry?
There is a recipe to do just that in my new book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars.
Would this work with Rhubarb? I have lots and would like to use it in jam.
It would work beautifully with rhubarb. You may not need the lemon juice, though, since rhubarb is quite tart all on its own.
Thanks, thought it likely would, but wanted to make sure. :)
How do you know this is safe? Have you run it by your local college extension?
This recipe is safe because blueberries are a high acid food. The safety of recipes depends on their having a pH that’s 4.6 or below. Blueberries generally have a pH of 3.3-3.7. That’s well below the cut-off. The honey is pH neutral, and the lemon juice adds to the acid content. There’s no need to request additional testing or approval from an outside body for a recipe like this one.
Oh wow, sounds yummy. I love blueberry ice cream. Thanks,
Needed to make space in my freezer so I decided to look for a blueberry jam recipe to use up some of the berries from last summer (I have love all of yours that I have made) …this one looked like a winner since I love honey too.
Turned out perfect! Had some warm on the greek yogurt I made last night! Five stars!
I am new to making jam and canning and am about to try this delightful recipe. My question is – how much headspace do I leave if I am doing the water bath method? I made peach jam earlier this week and that recipe called for 1/4 inch. Is it the same for this jam? Thank you!
You want to have between 1/2 and 1/4 inch headspace.
Nice post.. thks for sharing dear Regards
A truly wonderful recipe. The honey here in UK comes in 340g jars so I decided to use it all. From the quantities you give in the original recipes the amount of blueberries to honey works out 3 : 1. So I used 1kg blueberries with 340g honey and juice of half lemon. I cooked it for 20 minutes instead and put it in jars. It has a lovely and thick consistency and I look forward to consuming it. Thank you very much for the lovely recipe.
Jennifer, I’m delighted that you’re so happy with this technique!
I’ve now used this recipe to make blueberry jam, golden raspberry jam, fire dapple pluot + golden raspberry jam, yellow plum jam (with varieties including rosemary and vanilla), and cherry + nectarine jam. IN LOVE.
Would it be safe to sterilize the jars and lids and then put the cooked mixture in it and NOT do the water bath? Just put the jars on the counter wrapped in towels until I hear the “pop”? I don’t have room for freezer jam and don’t have the right pans for a water bath.
You need to either do the water bath or keep this jam in cold storage. Honey doesn’t keep things as well as sugar and so it will mold in a couple of weeks if you skip the boiling water bath and keep it at room temperature.
I tried this with grapes and it never set. I am thinking about reboiling it and trying again – do you think adding the shredded apple from the strawberry jam recipe could help? On another note, I made this with blueberries and it turned out perfectly!
So glad to help!
Does a water bath even need to be done? Won’t the jars ‘self can’ with hot jam and hot lids? … I’m about to try ;-)
I highly recommend doing the boiling water bath for this preserve. Honey sweetened jams don’t keep as well as sugar sweetened ones and just allowing this preserve to seal is running the risk that it will mold fairly quickly.
Thanks for the information – I’m setting up a make-shift water bather right now.
Thanks so much. This was so easy. I have a very large frying pan and I was able to double the batch. The blueberries I used are high bush wild and very sweet so I only used 1 cup of honey for the 2 quarts of blueberries. It’s perfect! Also I used a wooden spoon to stir it :). Thanks again.
It worked. The cans popped. But the jelly is very liquify. Will it firm up?
It will firm up some. However, this is naturally a softer set jam.
Can you use honey that has crystallized?
I just did. It seemed to work fine
OK, it worked for me too. :) Delicious!
Hi!! Love love LOVE this site!!!! – my family has been doing real food for the last three years- getting rid of dyes and preservatives was a much better outcome for my son’s ADHD. Found your site last year and was glad to see other moms getting the word out about today’s ‘food’ in America. :) Good job Lisa!
Question- I froze my berries so they wouldn’t go bad before I had a chance to make the jam- do I fully defrost before starting? Can I even still use them? Thanks!!!!
Ooops, sorry just saw that it makes 2-3 half pint jar. Also, saw it can be freezer jam…does it last as long? Also still wondering about making it peach blueberry jam (just bought a 1/2 bushel of peaches :) ) Thanks!
You’ll actually get better shelf life if you can the jam rather than freeze it. After the boiling water bath process, it will be good a year or more on the shelf. In the freezer, it will start to lose flavor after about six months.
And you can certainly try it with some peaches. I’ve not done it, but there’s nothing unsafe about it.
Thank you! I have yet another question :) hope that’s okay! Would it be okay to quadruple the recipe, I would like to make several 1/2 pint jars for gifts, etc? How many doubling is too many doubling do you think? Also, would it be okay to make the batches tonight, refrigerate it and reheat tomorrow then can? I just realized I don’t have enough jars (lost them in giving away process) and I will get some tomorrow, but have time tonight to make the jam. Would that alter the consistency or do anything bad to it? Thanks again!!!
This recipe WILL NOT WORK if you double, triple, or quadruple it. The set of the jam depends on the small batch, because you need the small amount in the pan to evaporate the water rapidly and get the honey to thicken and bond with the pectin in the fruit before the pectin softens.
You could make the jam in multiple batches tonight, refrigerate it and then reheat and can it tomorrow.
Hi! I can’t wait to try this delicious recipe! I’m so sorry if you may have answered these questions, but my silly computer keeps freezing as I’m reading the comments. How many 8 oz jam jars would this fill? Can this be freezer jam? If I do it as freezer jam, does it still last the same amount of time as canned jam (I’m thinking they are both good for a year?)? Also, could I add peaches and make a peach/blueberry jam? Sorry, for all the questions…I’m new to jam making! Thanks so much! :)
Made this using Saskatoon berries. Was so yummy!
CAN THIS BE DONE WITH PEACHES AND THEN FROZEN IN STRAIGHT SIDE JARS?
Linda, you can certainly freeze it in straight sided jars, but I’ve not tried this exact ratio with peaches, so I can’t speak with 100% certainty that it will work. As long as you use yellow peaches, it is perfectly safe to try it, though.
Lisa, thanks so much for the link to food in jars during your vacation. I have a new hobby. Love the small batch canning! Who knew?
I understand the lemon juice is probably used as a preservative, but we have an allergy to all citrus in our house. Do you have any suggestions for a substitute?
The lemon juice is simply there for flavor. You could try a splash of apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice.