Simple + Delicious: How to Make Blueberry Jam without Pectin
Can you make blueberry jam without pectin? YES, you absolutely can AND you’re in the right place to learn all about the process!
Blueberry jam is a classic preserve that many of us have fond memories of, whether it’s slathered on toast for breakfast or used as filling for crepes. I find it delightful and not only is the color of homemade blueberry jam exceptionally beautiful, the flavor is exquisite.
So, as someone who has been making this perfect blueberry jam without pectin for 10 years, I can confidently say that there’s nothing quite like the taste of it! Bring it along to a potluck or toss it in your camping food tote to surprise everyone on your next family camping trip!
My passion for creating this delicious blueberry preserve (and my family’s delight in eating it) has led me to experiment with different recipes and techniques over the years. This is one of my favorite jam recipes.
I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to make the perfect batch of blueberry jam without the use of pectin.
In this blog post, I’m excited to share with you a tried and tested recipe for making blueberry jam without pectin, as well as some helpful tips to ensure that your jam turns out JUST right!
So, roll up your sleeves, grab some blueberries, and get ready to create a jar of homemade goodness that you’ll be proud to share with your loved ones. If you like this recipe be sure to check out my recipe for strawberry rhubarb freezer jam too!
Blueberry Jam without Pectin
Homemade blueberry jam is a delicious and versatile preserve loved by many that can be enjoyed on toast, pancakes, or even as a condiment with cheese and savory dishes.
While there are many recipes out there that call for pectin, a natural thickening agent, making blueberry jam without it can be a simple and rewarding process.
By using fresh, whole blueberries and a few simple ingredients that include citrus, you can create one of my favorite unique blueberry jam recipes with a rich, deep flavor and a soft, spreadable texture.
What is Pectin and Why Make Jam Without It?
Pectin is a type of soluble fiber found in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. It is a natural thickening agent that is commonly used in the food industry, particularly in the production of jams, jellies, and preserves.
Traditionally, pectin was obtained by boiling apples or citrus peels and then straining the liquid to extract the pectin. However, commercial pectin is now widely available and is often used in modern jam-making.
Fruits that are naturally high in pectin, such as apples, cranberries, and citrus fruits, can be used to provide the necessary pectin for jam-making.
However, many fruits, such as strawberries, and peaches, are low in pectin and require additional pectin to achieve the desired texture.
Blueberries actually have a nice amount of pectin in them so if you cook the jam for a long period of time, for example an hour or more, you may not need any added citrus for added pectin. This recipe encourages citrus juice and zest for pectin because it turns out so perfectly delicious!
Why make jam without pectin?
While pectin is generally considered safe for consumption, there are some potential downsides to using it. Not only does making jam without commercial pectin allow for a more natural and exciting flavor, but it also eliminates the need for a lot of extra sugar – which is needed for the pectin to set.
Removing pectin from the jam-making process eliminates the need for precise measurements to achieve the desired texture.
What is a Good Substitute for Commercial Pectin?
Citrus fruits, particularly lemons, can be used as a natural source of pectin in jam-making. For this blueberry jam recipe, I use lime! The pectin in citrus is concentrated in the peel and white pith of the fruit, rather than in the flesh.
However, juice alone can be effective in setting certain jams, like this apricot jam without pectin that incorporates lemon juice.
To use citrus as a natural pectin source in jam making, the peel can be finely grated and added to the fruit mixture before cooking. The amount of citrus needed will depend on the type of fruit being used and the desired texture of the jam.
The fruit and citrus mixture will then be heated and cooked until the fruit is soft and the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency. The mixture should be stirred frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
Using citrus as a natural pectin source can result in a final product that has a slightly tart flavor and a softer set than jams made with commercial pectin. It can also be a great option for those who prefer to avoid the use of commercial pectin in their cooking!
How to Make Blueberry Jam without Pectin
This recipe uses lime as the citrus of choice, rather than lemon, as a natural pectin source. I have made blueberry jam with both fresh lemon juice and fresh lime juice, and I have to say, I find the added lime flavor to be exceptionally delicious and unique! My kids won’t let me make it any other way!
Ingredients and Equipment for Easy Blueberry Jam
This is a list of the ingredients and amounts needed to make a nice large batch of quick blueberry jam. We grow our own blueberries so we have an abundance to use (up). However, you can also make a small batch by halving or quartering the ingredients!
You need 5 quarts or 20 cups blueberries, to make 16 cups of blueberry jam using this recipe. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries! If you don’t want to make and can jam in the hot summer weather when berries are ripe, freeze them and make your jam in the cooler fall weather.
Regular granulated cane sugar is best for flavor and consistency in the jam. Sugar also helps preserve the color of the jam. I use 4 cups of sugar for 5 quarts of blueberries.
You can try using less but as someone who doesn’t care for sugar-laden jams, I find this amount to be the perfect sweet spot! The resulting jam tastes more like fruit than sugar.
I prefer organic limes since this recipe uses the zest of the lime. Fresh lime zest and lime juice is used to add natural pectin and a delicious zingy citrus flavor. I use mostly fresh lime juice in this recipe because once I zest the limes, I like to use their juice as well! You may use lemon instead of lime if you prefer.
If you need a zester I recommend using this one because I don’t struggle and injure myself when using it! If you haven’t zested anything before, this is a thing that can happen for sure. I use it for grating frozen ginger too as well as parmesan cheese.
BOTTLED LIME JUICE
The 5 limes needed for zesting don’t seem to give me enough lime juice for the 3/4 cup needed for the recipe so I supplement with bottled lime juice. Due to the high percentage of fresh lime juice, it is wise, regardless, to add some bottled juice as well because it helps ensure proper acidity levels for canned goods. You may use lemon juice instead of lime if you prefer.
I love using Italian Volcano Organic Lime Juice or Santa Cruz Organic Lime juice because these taste so natural and incredibly delicious. ReaLime juice has additives and I do not recommend it due to the flavor difference.
When canning fruits and vegetables, it’s important to use an acid that is at least 5% in order to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause spoilage or foodborne illness. Fresh limes can vary in their acidity level, so it’s difficult to know for sure that they will meet this requirement.
Citric acid is a natural preservative that adds raises the acidity of canned items. It is used in this canning recipe as an additive to the fresh lime juice because the acidity level of fresh citrus can vary and can’t be reliably measured.
Citric acid, on the other hand, has a consistent level of acidity and can be used in a precise amount to ensure the safety of canned foods. I buy NOW brand’s citric acid because it is non-GMO.
You will need 16 half-pint mason jars with rings and lids (that are sterilized) for this recipe. Buy a couple of cases- you can never really have too many mason jars, right? I buy these jars because they are the best!
CANNER + CANNING ACCESSORIES
A basic water bath canner with a jar rack is needed for canning the jam. Alongside the canner, you will need a funnel and tongs. Having these will ensure you have the proper equipment needed to proceed safely with the canning process.
Instructions for Simple Blueberry Jam
1. Fill your canner with hot water and bring the water to a boil. Maintain a temperature of 180º for the water bath canning process. In addition, you will need to sterilize your jars for canning the jam.
2. Before you begin cooking place three spoons in your freezer for testing the set of the jam at the end of cooking.
2. Start by mashing the 5 quarts of blueberries in a non-reactive pot with a potato masher or an immersion blender. Use the potato masher for chunkier jam and use the immersion blender for a smoother jam.
3. Place the pot on your stove over medium heat. Add 4 cups of cane sugar. Stir well to make sure the sure is mixed in and can dissolve well.
4. Add both the fresh and bottled lime juice (totaling 3/4 cup), lime zest, and 1/2 cup citric acid powder to the pot. Stir well.
5. By now the berries should be releasing their juices. Keep stirring well. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for two minutes.
To achieve a successful jam, it’s crucial to understand the concept of a full rolling boil. This stage must be attained to help the jam set before the final cooking time.
6. The jam will now need to cook for another 30 minutes just above a simmer. This will help everything thicken and it promotes the release of the pectin from the lime zest. Stir often.
7. Test your jam for proper setting. Take a frozen spoon and drop fresh hot jam onto it. If the jam doesn’t immediately drip off the spoon it is finished! If, however, it rolls off the spoon immediately, you can bring the jam to a rolling boil for one more minute and cook the jam for another 10 minutes at medium-low heat.
8. PRO TIP: The jam will continue to set over the next 24-48 hours so don’t fret if you think your jam isn’t as thick as it should be. Use these photos for comparison. Because this jam has no commercial pectin in it, it does need extra time to set. And it will with a bit more time!
9. Using the funnel and a ladle fill your canning jars with the hot blueberry jam leaving 1/2″ of head space at the top. Clean any drips off the rims with a damp paper towel. Place lids and rings on the jars but don’t tighten the lids beyond a simple firm twist.
10. Place the jars in the pre-heated canner fully covered with at least 1″ of water beyond their lids. Bring the water back to a full boil. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
11. After 10 minutes turn off the heat. Remove the jars, carefully, using tongs and keeping them upright. Set the canned jam jars on a towel on your counter and do not move them or test the lids at all for 24 hours. Store in a cool place for up to one year.
Troubleshooting a Common Issue for this Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin
- Sometimes you may notice your jam is truly not setting up enough to prevent it from immediately dripping off a frozen spoon.
- This may happen if you use frozen blueberries which hold more moisture. In this case please try adding another 1/2 – 1 cup of sugar and another tablespoon of lime zest.
- Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to simmer and continue cooking your jam for another 20 minutes, stirring often.
FAQS: Homemade Blueberry Jam without Pectin
You may have some pressing questions about making delicious homemade jam without pectin! Well, I have some answers for you. Read on to learn more!
How long will homemade blueberry jam last in the refrigerator?
Homemade blueberry jam without pectin will typically last for 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to store the jam in an airtight container.
Additionally, you should make sure to check the jam periodically for signs of spoilage past two weeks. Or, just enjoy it eat it up before you need to worry about spoilage!
Is making my own homemade jam better for me than store-bought?
Making your own homemade jam without pectin can be better for you than store-bought varieties.
Homemade blueberry jam is not only free of preservatives and artificial colorants, but it is also free of high fructose corn syrup. As a result, homemade Blueberry Jam is much healthier for you than store-bought varieties.
How to thicken homemade blueberry jam without pectin?
While they do have pectin, blueberries are naturally lower in pectin, which means that it can be challenging to get a homemade blueberry jam to set properly.
Here’s a tip! If you are not using anything additional for pectin, cook the blueberries for longer since cooking the blueberries for a longer period of time can help to break down the pectin within the fruit and release it. This allows the jam to thicken. It can take an hour or more of cooking time, keep this in mind.
Is it better to make jam without pectin?
Whether or not to use pectin when making jam is a matter of personal preference. Pectin is a natural thickener that is often added to help jams, like strawberry jam, set and become firmer.
However, some people prefer to make jam without pectin because they prefer a softer, looser consistency or because they want to avoid using a commercial thickener.
Does lemon juice thicken jam?
Lemon juice does not thicken jam on its own, but it can play an important role in helping jam to set properly. This is because lemon juice is a natural source of pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber that acts as a gelling agent in jam.
When making jam, the pectin in the fruit is activated by heat and acid. Lemon juice is acidic, and adding it to jam can help to release the pectin in the fruit, allowing the jam to thicken and set properly.
The acid in lemon juice can also help to balance the sweetness of the jam, resulting in a more complex and pleasing flavor. However, it’s important to note that lemon juice alone is not enough to thicken jam without the presence of pectin.
If the fruit you are using has low levels of pectin, you may need to add a commercial pectin product or use other natural sources of pectin, such as citrus peels, apples, or quince, to help the jam set properly.
The Wrap-Up on Homemade Blueberry Jam without Pectin
In conclusion, making homemade this no pectin blueberry jam is a super fun, straightforward and enjoyable process with tasty results! With fresh ingredients, you can create this delicious jam that is free of artificial preservatives and additives.
I think you will love this jam that is both sweet and tangy, with a rich, fruity flavor that is perfect for spreading on toast, muffins, or scones.
With a little patience and practice, you can become a master of this recipe for blueberry jam without pectin, impressing your friends and family with your culinary skills and enjoying the satisfaction that comes with making something from scratch.
Blueberry Lime Jam without Pectin
- 5 quarts blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 4 cups cane sugar
- 5 limes, zested and juiced 1/2 cup total fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup jarred lime juice
- 1/2 tsp citric acid
- Fill your hot water bath canner with enough water so that when cans are placed in, they will have 1" of water above their lids. Bring water to a boil and maintain the hot water at a temperature of 180º.
- Set a few spoons in the freezer for testing the setting of the jam later on.
- Start by mashing the blueberries in a non-reactive stock pot using a potato masher or an immersion blender.
- Add the sugar, lime zest, and 3/4 cup total of juice from limes and jarred lime juice.
- Cook on medium-high heat until it starts boiling, stirring occasionally.
- Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until it has reached the desired thickness.
- Test jam for proper setting. Take a frozen spoon and drop fresh hot jam onto it. If the jam doesn't immediately drip off the spoon it is finished! If, however, it rolls off the spoon immediately, you can bring the jam to a rolling boil for one more minute and cook the jam for another 10 minutes at medium-low heat.
- Turn off the heat and begin transferring the jam into clean jars. Using the funnel and a ladle fill jars leaving 1/2" of headspace. To ensure a good seal, put the lids and rings on firmly but do not tighten with too much force.
- Put filled jars into the hot water bath and bring to a boil. Then maintain the water at a temperature of 180º for 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Carefully remove jam jars from canner using tongs, keeping the jars upright, and setting them on a towl on the counter to rest for 24 hours. DO NOT disturb the jars or turn the rings for 24-48 hours.
- Store in a cool dry place until ready to serve! Enjoy!