Wondering what to do with all those freshly picked berries from your back yard? Consider making your own homemade jam! Not only are jams easy to make, they’re a great way to enjoy the fruits of your harvest year-round!

Blueberry jam on toast

Jams are wonderful with your morning toast!

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Jam materials

All you need to make jam is a few simple ingredients and some basic kitchen gadgets.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Skimming jam

When cooking is complete, skim the foam off the top with a metal spoon.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Pouring jam

Pour cooked jam into jars with a small measuring cup or ladle.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Flipped jam container

After the lids and bands have been secured, flip each jar upside down for a few seconds to sterilize the inside of the lid and start the seal.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Here’s one easy family recipe you can use with blueberries. (And spice is nice when cinnamon and cloves team up with this fresh fruit!) It’s a pretty basic recipe – and you can use it (with or without the spices) to create a variety of delicious homemade preserves.

Spiced Blueberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries (approximately 2½ cups)
  • 3½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 ounces liquid pectin

Directions

Start by placing jam jars in the dishwasher and wash at regular cycle, leaving them on “heated dry” until you’re ready to fill them with hot jam. (If you don’t have a dishwasher, sterilize the jars by boiling them for 10 minutes, then leave them in hot water until you’re ready to fill with cooked jam.) Place the flat metal lids in a small pot of hot – but not boiling – water to clean the lid and to soften the gummed seal. Keep warm on low heat for at least 5 minutes, and let them soak until you’re ready to seal the jars.

Put fruit in a colander over a large bowl or sink, and wash and sort in tap water. (If you’re using frozen berries, let them soak for a few minutes extra to defrost.) Gently run your fingers through the berries and remove any mushy fruit, stems or debris. (This is definitely a hands-on task.)

Let the cleaned blueberries drain for a few minutes, then pour them into a blender. (Don’t you love those modern appliances?!) Add the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves, then mix using short bursts of low-impulse speed – just enough to break the berries. (If you don’t have a blender, no worries – just crush the fruit with a potato masher right in the cooking pot, then add the rest of the ingredients directly into it.)

Pour the mixture into an 8- to 10-quart pot or Dutch oven and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that won’t stop when stirred). Let the mixture boil hard, uncovered, for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the liquid pectin.

Quickly skim off the foam with a metal spoon and discard.

Ladle or scoop your hot jam immediately into the jars, filling to within ½ an inch from the top. (Just about anything will work for scooping. I use one of the smaller cups from a plastic measuring cup set and find it’s perfect for easy dipping – and makes fewer spills.)

As soon as the jars are filled, wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel to remove any syrup or fruit from the sealing edge and sides. Place the warm metal lids on top of the jars, and tighten with the screw bands. (Make them finger-tight.)

Hold the bottom of the jar with a pot holder and invert it for a few seconds so the scalding hot jam sterilizes the lid and creates a seal. Turn the jar right side up and place on a rack or heat-proof surface, allowing space between jars for air circulation.

The recipe should make 5-6 half-pints of jam. Label each lid with the type you made, as well as the date, then store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to one year.

Try this tasty Spiced Blueberry Jam on any assortment of breakfast breads, like bagels, toast and rolls. It’s also wonderful as a tart filling, cheesecake topper or a layered cake filling. Just be sure to keep the recipe handy – this homemade favorite goes fast!