No pectin? No problem. If you’re looking for the best tasting and easiest way to preserve your blueberries this season, your search is over. You can make this sweet and savory, highly versatile no pectin blueberry jam in about 30 minutes from start to finish! Better yet, you don’t need any special canning equipment to create this shelf stable recipe!
Blueberries are Nature’s Candy
When picked at peak ripeness, there is nothing like popping these plump, blue-violet sapphire gems into your mouth. Your taste buds are immediately overwhelmed with a sweetness that is even more concentrated than a grape before dissolving into a mildly tart finish.
Like….what?! A bush grew that?
Each summer, when our local ‘U-Pick’ farm announces that blueberries are available, this 30-something year-old woman can STILL rival the excitement of any 10 year old! The phrase “like a kid in a candy store” totally applies to the way I rummage through the fields with my pail. Do not judge me—I have been with bated breath for these blueberry gems allllll year. When they arrival, I purchase them by the crate to enjoy fresh, frozen, and canned. You can’t be the price, taste, and flavor summer blueberries.
Everyone LOVES Blueberries
Blueberries have enjoyed a delicious legacy for over 13,000 years on the north American continent were native Americans used them for medicinal purposes and natural flavoring. The popular American poet, Robert Frost, dedicated an entire poem about the magical fruit, simply titled, “Blueberries.” (And, that’s saying something because they guy mainly wrote about life’s struggles and mortality). Plus, numerous health publications have identified blueberries as a superfood that provide a range of health benefits.
What’s not to love about ’em?
Why wouldn’t you want to find a way to capture this incredible flavor year round by preserving them?
This no pectin blueberry jam bottles up the blissful summer taste of blueberries in jars that you’ll enjoy deep into the fall and winter months.
But let me be clear—this recipe is kind of deluxe. We’ll use brown sugar, maple syrup, chopped dates and walnuts that’ll simmer in warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. This combination is about to give you the best jam of your life and is a real New England treat! P.S-, any kind of blueberries (in particular wild ones) will give you an incredible tasty conserve/jam!
Blueberries ALREADY HAVE PECTIN (which means you don’t need to add any)!
You’ll see a lot of jam recipes that call for pectin, a thickening agent that immediately gives a gelling property to liquids. You can purchase it at most grocery stores or online.
BUT, did you know that all fruits naturally contain pectin? Totally true! It’s just that some are more pectin rich than others. Blueberries are very high in natural pectin and easily congeals when boiled with sugar to give you a nice soft set.
I guess I like to give a nod to traditional methods of preparing jams the old-fashioned way, which, didn’t use commercial pectin at all. Instead, they relied on using a combination of high quality fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Guess what? They still ended up with a delicious jam.
Truth be told, not adding pectin to this recipe is what gives it the perfect texture that adds to the versatility of this jam. Because its not a super thick spread, it easily pours into pancake, muffin, or bread batters where you can still appreciate the syrupy thickness and whole berry look and texture. While this recipe doesn’t use pectin, it does fold in a measure of chopped dates, which gives it that enviable spoonable body. You needn’t worry it’ll be runny or slide off your plate (or biscuit)!
You DO have to use Lemon Juice when making Jam (here’s why).
The reasons start (and end) with pH, which is an extremely important measurement concerning food sterility and gelling strength. Look sis, I’ve always walked on the artsy side of life, so I promise my (sourced) explanation is accurate, but it ain’t too technical. So, give me some grace and try to stick with me:
The first reason lemon juice is used in home canning recipes is because its high acidity level acts as an antimicrobial agent that kills bacteria and fungi. It’s ability to plummet the overall pH of this recipe to below 3.5 is what it what prevents the growth of botulism (caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum) in canned food products. Since these spores cannot survive in a low pH environment, the use of lemon juice is one factor that qualifies the recipe as commercially sterile (the other factor is the water bath technique).
The second reason is also tied to pH, because those two lil’ letters also determine the degree of pectin gelation. As your berries comes to a boil, they burst and release their natural pectin. The released pectin can either sink or swim depending on the environment you have going on in the pot. If pectin comes into contain with sucrose (fancy word for sugar) and an acidic pH level (your lemon juice) the released pectin can easily form a gel. But, if you don’t have the sugar acid duo, poof! Your gelling options quickly evaporate (like, literally).
And yes, you’ve gotta use actual lemon juice (as in the bottled kind at 5 % acidity, not just lemons) when making no-pectin jam as a way to be certain of your acid level. But, if you don’t have lemon juice, you could substitute lime juice, which has the same acidity level as lemon juice and a similar enough taste that won’t throw things off.
Everyday Ways to Enjoy this No Pectin Blueberry Jam (at every meal!)
If you think this delicious blueberry jam recipe is something you’ll only enjoy at breakfast or for dessert, you’re missing out. Let me give you a few recipe ideas on how to enjoy this spread any time of the day!
- Breakfast syrup gets boring. Replace your pancake and waffle topping with this delicious, savory spread. But–I’m warning you now, that you (your spouse/kids/guests/who eva’) may never be able to go back to syrup after enjoying this (jus’ saying).
- Your morning toasted bagel and cream cheese WON’T be the same with this spread on top! Whew, lawd, the combined crunch from the walnuts, plump berries, and sweet maple glaze will lift your spirit enough to get through whatever the day ahead holds!
- Level up Cinnamon Rolls to the Nth degree. Because, seriously, that’s exactly what this blueberry jam will do. It’s the easiest way to take a classic weekend breakfast favorite and switch it up by ditching the usual iced vanilla topping. Don’t you look fancy!
- Ricotta Ravioli with Blueberry Pan Sauce. Yes, I was suspicious too, BUT –the combination of sweet and tart from blueberry jam pairs perfectly with warm, soft and salty, cheesy ravioli topped with garden fresh basil. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised, too. Plus, this dish is just beautiful and slides in at under 10 minutes to prepare! It’s totally my “Oh, I’m having unexpected guests?” keep calm, look impressive, I prepared for this go-to meal.
- Blueberry Balsamic Glaze Rosemary Chicken. This is another weeknight chicken dinner winner! If you’re worried about this being sweet (like I was), don’t be. Adding balsamic vinegar to the jam propels it to the savory side and the addition of rosemary adds a woodsy, earthy taste that rounds out the profile of the meat. Trust me on this, ok?
- Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Bacon Jam. This one’s a show stopper (but still slides in at under 30 minutes, because, #thisisreallife). I cannot brag enough about how delicious this is and how quickly this meal comes together IF you have home-canned blueberry jam on hand! This topping rolls tangy, sweet, and spicy taste all in one for an unbeatable flavor. I love pairing it with creamy mashed cauliflower topped with fresh herb. De-lish!
Parfaits and IceCream neeeeeeed this! I love taking thick greek vanilla yogurt and folding a spoonful (or 2 or 3) of this in! The combination of fruits, nuts, maple syrup and savory spices make it a no brainer! Oh, the same is true for any flavor of ice-cream, smoothie, or fruit salad dressing.
These are just some of the endless ways you’ll find yourself enjoying this recipe. I’ve also used this no pectin blueberry jam as a filling for thumbprint cookies, stirred into bread and muffin recipes, and baked into a decadent blueberry french toast casserole!
Watch how to make (and use) this simple, no pectin blueberry jam!
How to Thicken your Jam without Pectin
I love canning because it gives YOU (and me) the freedom to get a say in how you want the final product to come out. So, even while I think the consistency of a soft set jam is perfect, you may want it to be a bit thicker, and sis’ I can’t be mad at that. So, ‘do you, boo’! Here are some other ways to thicken your jam:
- Let it Sit. If your jam looks runny in the jar after processing, allow it to sit an additional 24 hours beyond its cool time either on the counter or in the refrigerator. Small berry fruit jams can take upwards of 2-3 days to completely cool and gel.
- Cook it Longer. Yup–your jam may need an extra 5, 10 or 15 minutes of stove time . And, this isn’t because you did anything “wrong”! The rate at which your stove heats or maintains temperature, the thickness of the pot, and quality of your berries (fresh, frozen, more or less ripe) are considerations that influence your final product.
- Throw in Chia Seeds. If you don’t have time for option 1 or 2, this is your best bet. These dry specks instantly mutate into an ooey gooey gel when moistened. Crisis 100% averted! Plus, you just added an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants. Look at you (accidentally) showing off!
- Low-Bake it. Truthfully, this wouldn’t be my go to (because it takes longer) but it works just as good as my other recommendations. The trick to getting a thicker set is to remove the moisture. Pour the jam onto a rimmed baking sheet and place it in a low heat (180-200 F) oven for 2 or 3 hours. Works like charm– just keep an eye on things and sample every 30 minutes.
- Use packaged chopped dates instead of whole dates. They’ll already have the skins and seeds removed, and are cut into bits that keep the cook time under 30 minutes.
- You know the saying that things get better with age? Now this is just my opinion, but I think that’s true of this jam. I’ve made this recipe for several years and have noticed that you will end up with a rich, complex blend of flavor that gets better as the months go by. Tell me if you agree when you make it!
- Yield will vary depending on how much you thicken it by simmering. Do not add any thickener! You’ve gotta remember that it will thicken a fair bit upon cooling. It’s not 100% structured like a jelly, but it has a spoonable texture that holds its own.
- Yes, adding nuts to this jam is safe to do, but, it has not been determined as safe by the NCFHP to exclusively can nuts as a single ingredient. I will usually use the same batch to pour a few jars WITHOUT nuts not only because I may want to share this with someone that has a nut allergy, but also because there are recipes I want to use this for that I may not necessarily want or need nuts to be included. The processing time remains the same.
- Fresh fruit is the most desirable for canning, but frozen blueberries will work nicely too you just want to use berries that were picked at the peak of ripeness. If you decide to use froze, try to get them into the pot before they completely thaw out, because the faster they defrost, the less juice escapes from the fruit and this is what gives you a thicker, tastier jam!
- You may want to stick 3 spoon in the freezer before you make this recipe so you can test the set of your jam.
Is this recipe approved as safe?
YES! That’s because I only share tested home canning recipes inspired from reputable sources. This recipe is adapted from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Top and Margret Howard. I take safe canning practices very seriously, so this (and any) recipe that appears on my blog or YouTube channel will:
- Use only recipe methods that follow safe and science-based guidelines published by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Jarden companies like Ball and Bernardin.
- Source all information so that you can follow it back to the canning authorities where the recipe originated. I know this makes nearly every other word in my blog post look like a lit-up Christmas tree, but I want you to be a confident, informed canner too, so I’m very transparent about any modifications I include. I discuss this in this recipe’s video.
My goal with publicly sharing canning recipes is to inspire you to create your own healthier, better-tasting, and usually cheaper convenience foods. And, to show how canning food in the modern world still makes sense! Above all, I want you to be both safe and successful in your canning efforts. For this reason, I’ll always link to the approved NCHFP canning recipes and encourage you to make a small investment in purchasing the most updated preservation books and equipment I use in my own kitchen.
No Pectin Blueberry Jam |Canning Recipe
Makes 4 1 1/2 cups (about nine 4 ounce jars)
- 6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 3/4 cup chopped dates
- 3/4 cup maple sugar
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp bottled lemon juice (5 % acidity)
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 1/4 cup grated ginger
- Optional: 3/4 cup walnuts
- Optional: 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 tsp each: ground all spice and ginger
- Start by preparing your blueberries. Submerge them in a bowl of cool water to remove any dirt. Thoroughly rinse and strain. Next, remove any stems that may still be attached. Discard any bruised, mushy or moldy berries.
- In a large heavy bottomed sauce-pan, combine lightly crushed blueberries, water, maple syrup and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat for 1 minute. Reduce heat and bring contents to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Fold in brown sugar and raisins. Bring all ingredients back to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat again and allow the jam to gently boil, uncovered, as you watch for a light surface gel to form. This could take 15-20 minutes. Continue to stir frequently.
- Once you’ve observed a light gel, remove the pot from the stove and stir in the spices.
- If using, add nuts and vanilla.
- It’s pointless to pretend you won’t lick the spoon (or the pot) so go ahead and do that now! It’s so, so, good!
- Ladle the blueberry jam into 4 ounce , 8 ounce, or 12 ounce jelly jars leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Process each size jar for 10 minutes. .
Canning your Blueberry Jam
How will I know when the jam is ready?
Simply dribble some hot jam from the pot onto the frozen spoon and wait a few seconds for it to cool. Run your finger through the jam — if it makes a clear path through the jam and doesn’t immediately fill back in, then you’ll have a good set. Since you may need to do this more than once, I like having at least 3 freezer spoons on hand.
Filling the jars
- Sanitize your jars and place them on a dishtowel.
- Grab your funnel and ladle that jelly goodness into the jars, leaving a ¼ inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles by running a long plastic or wooden skewer between the jar and the jam.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with vinegar to remove any spillage (which can prevent your jars from creating a seal).
- Secure the rings to the top of your jar until they are “fingertip tight” but still allows enough air to pass through.
Processing your blueberry jam on the stove
- Using a jar rack or plate, lower the jars into the boiling water of your water bath canner.
- Pour in more water to ensure that the water covers at least an inch above your jars.
- Place the lid on your pot.
- Bring water to a full boil for 10 minutes, then use a jar lifting to remove the jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel undisturbed for a minimum of 8 hours. (note: do not tighten the caps or you’ll risk breaking the seal).
When are the jars ready?
As your jars cool, you’ll hear the jars making clicking pops. Leave the jars undisturbed on a towel for a minimum of 12-24 hours. After that, you can confirm the jars have sealed by removing the rings. A sealed jar lid will remain secured to the jar without the rim and be slightly indented in the center. Use your index finger to moderately tap on the jar in a few places, it should not pop back when pressed. The majority of your jars will seal within a few hours of cooling down. If you have any jars that didn’t seal properly, just store them in the fridge and use them within the month.
- This delicious blueberry jam will be shelf stable and keep (unopened) for up to one year.
- If you’re not going to can your jam, you can store it in the fridge for use within the month!
- Buutt…if you’re not canning this, freeze for up to 3 months.
Craving more quick minute water bath recipes? Don’t miss out on my Sweet & Spicy Onion Jam, which will surely become another one of your weekday favorites!