Perhaps the best way to hold onto prime summer fruit well into the winter is by using it to make fresh, bright, and fruity jam. With a bounty of fruit to choose from, the possibilities are truly endless, especially if you're up for some experimentation. The process involves getting your hands on the right tools, picking out the best fruit, learning the secrets to setting your jam, and, of course, understanding the science of preservation. It’s a labor of love that’ll become a breeze once you nail the basics. And it’s well worth it when the result is sweet, juicy, and tart jam that was made for pairing with butter on toast or starring on your next cheese plate. From strawberry with a few variations to classic grape and even jalapeño, these are 10 of our favorite jam recipes to make now and enjoy later.
Bright and Fruity Strawberry Jam, Your Way
This classic strawberry jam can be easily altered to your liking. You can experiment with sweeteners like brown sugar or honey, replace the lemon juice with another acid like sherry or red wine vinegar, and even add other flavorings, such as freshly grated horseradish or minced herbs. The basic formula comes together quickly, producing a bright and fruity flavor, but we highly recommend experimenting with different ingredients. Who says you can't have a little fun in the kitchen?
Homemade Plum Jam
Fresh summer plums are the star of this homemade jam. Here, the ratio of fruit to sugar is important for producing a bright flavor without an overwhelming sweetness. We like to macerate the plums a day in advance to cut down on cooking time, while also keeping half of them in large pieces to yield a jam with nice chunks—the rest are passed through a food mill. Note that since this recipe doesn’t use lemon juice, you’ll want to store it in the fridge, as opposed to room temperature, and consume it within a couple of months.
Rustic Apricot Jam
If chunky, rustic apricot jam is your, well, jam, turn to this simple recipe. The fruit’s natural pectin works with sugar, lemon juice, and heat to set perfectly. You’ll want to use Blenheim apricots or any other small, freestone apricot that’s firm but ripe. For a more refined texture, you can macerate the apricot halves in sugar at room temperature overnight before moving forward with the recipe.
Summer Blueberry Jam
Just three ingredients are all you need for this fruity jam: blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice. The key is selecting the best fruit—riper isn’t always better. You’ll want a mixture of just-ripe berries with a few under-ripe berries thrown in so that the texture of the jam comes out jellied and rich instead of leathery. The finished jam can be canned and stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year, but don’t be surprised if you go through it more quickly!Continue to 5 of 10 below.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Strawberries and rhubarb are no strangers to each other—the pairing is as classic as jam and toast. So it’s a no-brainer to combine them in this sweet jam. You’ll want to cook the rhubarb until completely broken down before adding in the strawberries, sugar, and vanilla extract. Thanks to the jam’s loose texture, it’s easy to swirl into yogurt or spread over fresh goat cheese on toast.
Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam
Here, sunny and simple strawberry jam gets a dark and sophisticated twist. Top-quality ingredients are key to producing a top-notch jam—reach for farmstand strawberries, grind your own black peppercorns, and grab that nice bottle of balsamic you keep for special occasions (making a jam this good is a special occasion in and of itself). What’s left is a jam with a kick that’s perfect for pairing with creamy cheeses and tiny toasts.
Strawberry Balsamic Thyme Jam
This strawberry balsamic jam swaps out the pepper for fresh thyme to add a hint of herby flavor. The balsamic vinegar adds a depth of flavor that balances the sweet, juicy taste of the strawberries. The ingredients come together to create a grown-up version of strawberry jam that goes just as well with ricotta as it does sandwiched between two shortbread cookies.
Perfect Sour Cherry Jam
Though this recipe requires pitting your cherries, the small bit of extra labor is worth it in the end. The cherries are briefly pulsed in a food processor just until chopped, before heading to the stove. For a juicier, more spreadable jam, it’s important to simmer the fruit with the lemon juice for a bit before adding the other ingredients. The process will leave you with a perfectly tart and sour cherry jam that’s begging to be topped on a buttery, tender biscuit.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
Easy Grape Jam
No classic PB&J is complete without grape jam. Here, you’ll want to use flavorful grapes like concord. Though chunkier jams normally require peeling the grapes, we make it easier by turning to a food mill for both skinning and seeding. After cooking and canning, you’re left with a sweet, tart, and juicy jam that’s bursting with grape flavor.
Looking for a jam with a kick? Jalapeño jam might just become your new favorite. All it takes is pulsing jalapeños and green bell peppers in a food processor, then mixing it with sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and liquid pectin over heat. After the canned jam sits in a boiling hot-water bath for about 10 minutes, let it cool for 24 hours. Then enjoy the sweet, spicy, and tangy condiment on crackers, biscuits, burgers, and more.