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Make this easy, old fashioned blackberry jam with or without pectin! The small batch recipe yields two jars of sweet, fresh, homemade jam that’s perfect for sharing with friends, spreading on toast, stirring into yogurt, or drizzling over ice cream. It’s a quick and delicious way to preserve your summer bounty!

Side shot of two jars of small batch blackberry jam on a white table

Easy Blackberry Jam

The same thing happens each season: I take the kids to a nearby farm to pick blackberries for a couple of hours, and we inevitably come home with more fresh fruit than we can possibly eat at once. When that’s the case, or when I just find fresh, sweet blackberries on sale at the grocery store, a small batch of this easy blackberry jam recipe is the best way to take advantage of the ripe fruit before it goes bad.

I originally came across this recipe in Taste of the South magazine, and it’s my favorite for a few reasons:

  • Small Batch. The recipe yields two jars of jam, which means that you don’t need to spend hours picking fresh fruit and you don’t have to spend a fortune on fresh berries at the market. With just 1 pound of fruit, you can whip up the small batch blackberry jam in less than an hour.
  • Quick and Easy. The simple process only requires about 15 minutes on the stovetop. If you choose to process and can the jam, that step is quick as well, since you’re only working with two jars. You’re not looking at an entire afternoon in the kitchen while you wait for batch after batch of jars in the water bath. I’ve been there, done that, and it’s not always my preference!
  • No Pectin. Since blackberries are naturally high in pectin, you can prepare the jam without using additional pectin. I’ve listed pectin as optional here, since I’ll often include it as “insurance” to be sure that my jam is nice and thick. That said, you can still make a batch of this blackberry jam without pectin!
Square side shot of a jar of blackberry jam with pectin on a white table

Ingredients for Homemade Blackberry Jam

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make a batch of easy blackberry jam. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Fresh blackberries: you’ll need 1 pound total, which comes out to about 3 ¼ – 3 ½ cups of fresh berries. When making jam, it’s always best to weigh your fruit to make sure that you have the exact amount — otherwise it could impact your jam’s ability to set.
  • Granulated sugar: to sweeten the jam and help it set.
  • Bottled lemon juice: the acid in lemon juice lowers the pH level in the jam, which neutralizes negative charges on the strands of pectin and therefore helps the jam set. By using bottled lemon juice, you ensure that your jam has a consistent acidity level, which also makes it safe for canning.
  • Powdered pectin: this is an optional ingredient, which thickens the jam even more.
Ingredients for blackberry jam without pectin or with pectin

Should you wash blackberries before making jam?

Yes, you need to wash the blackberries before using them. I typically rinse them really well in a colander under cold water, pick out any stray leaves or bad berries, and then pat them dry on a clean dish towel before making the jam.

Can you use frozen blackberries for jam?

I only recommend using fresh, ripe blackberries for this jam recipe. They will have the best acidity and tannins to give the jam a more complex flavor, and also the proper texture. Frozen blackberries tend to be mushier and more watery than fresh fruit when thawed, which will likely alter the consistency of your jam.

Are Blackberries high in pectin?

Pectin is a natural fiber found in plant cell walls, and most concentrated in the skin of fruits. It is water-soluble and binds with sugar and fruit acid to form a gel. Blackberries are naturally high in pectin, so you can make this blackberry jam without pectin. I’ve listed pectin as an optional ingredient here, because I often add a small amount of commercial powdered pectin to my jam just to make sure that it’s nice and thick.

Overhead shot showing how to make blackberry jam

How to Make Blackberry Jam without Pectin

This recipe is incredibly simple — it’s just important to get all of your ingredients and equipment prepared in advance because the process moves quickly. In less than an hour, you can have a couple jars of old-fashioned blackberry jam canned and ready for the pantry. There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing that “pop” as the lids seal!

Equipment Needed

  • 2 sterilized half-pint mason jars and lids: this recipe yields enough for about 2 (8-ounce) jars of jam. I like the half-pint jars because it’s just the right amount of jam to keep in the fridge after it’s opened, but smaller 4-ounce jars are also a great option.
  • A sterilized funnel: this makes it easier to get the jam inside the jar without spilling; however, it’s fine if you don’t have a funnel — you can carefully spoon the jam into the jars instead.
  • Tongs: canning tongs are incredibly helpful when taking the jars in and out of the boiling water.
  • Saucepan: for cooking the berries. Allow plenty of room for the berries to boil, bubble and foam!
  • Canner or large pot for boiling jars: this needs to be very deep so that you can cover the jars with at least 1-2 inches of water. I use my deepest stock pot for this step, since I don’t have an official canner to process the jars.
  • Potato masher or food processor: to smash the berries before cooking.
  • Wooden spoon

How to Sterilize Jars and Lids for Jam

It’s a good practice to sterilize the jars and lids before canning in order to kill any bacteria, fungi or yeast. There are a variety of ways to sterilize the jars (here’s a helpful article with different options). I typically use the dishwasher, or just boil them for 10 minutes in the same big pot of water that I’ll use for processing.

Process shot of canning blackberry jam
  1. Combine the blackberries and sugar in a large saucepan. Let stand for 15 minutes so that the sugar can start to macerate the berries, softening the fruit and releasing some juices.
  2. Mash the berries in the pot. A potato masher works well for this task!
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Add lemon juice.
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the jam is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Divide the jam between the two sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth, then secure the lids and bands.
Side shot of two jars of small batch blackberry jam

How to Tell When Jam is Done

There’s a classic trick that you can use to make sure that your jam is thick enough and ready to come off of the stovetop. Remember, it will continue to set as it cools. Here’s what to do:

  1. At the beginning of cooking, put two or three small plates or saucers in the freezer.
  2. Towards the end of cooking, pull out one of the cold plates and put a small dollop of jam into the middle of the dish. Return it to the freezer for 2-3 minutes (take your jam off the heat during this time, because if it the test tells you it’s done, you will have just spent three minutes overcooking your jam).
  3. After a couple of minutes, pull the dish out of the freezer and gently nudge the dollop of jam with the tip of your finger. If it has formed a skin on top that wrinkles a bit when pushed, it is done. If it is still quite liquid and your finger runs right through it, it’s not done yet.

Blackberry Jam with Pectin

For a thicker jam, you can include a small amount of powdered pectin. This ingredient is optional. If using, combine about 1 teaspoon of pectin with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Sprinkle the pectin mixture over the jam at the very end of the cooking time. Boil the jam with the pectin for exactly 1 minute, then remove the pot from the heat. If you overcook the pectin, it may break down and fail to gel.

Canning Blackberry Jam

Once the sterilized jars are full and sealed, set the hot jars on a rack in a canner or in a large pot of boiling water. Make sure that the pot is deep enough so that the jars are covered by at least 1-2 inches of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes.

How long does it take for blackberry jam to set?

Once the jars are filled and processed in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, place the jars on a dish towel on the counter. The jam will not set immediately, so it’s important to allow the jars to rest without interruption at room temperature until cool (or overnight), about 12 hours.

It can take 24-48 hours for a batch of jam to finish setting up. This thought goes through my mind every summer when I’m filling the jars and the jam looks thinner than I’d expect! I have to remind myself that it will not be thin once it cools and sets — patience is key.

Overhead shot of a spoon in a jar of the bets blackberry jam recipe

Storage

Once the jam has had a chance to cool, you can check the seals on your jars. The lids should be down in the center or stay down when pressed. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks. Properly sealed and processed jars of blackberry jam should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place (such as a pantry). The homemade blackberry jam will last for up to 8 months.

I do not recommend freezing this homemade jam. If you want to prepare blackberry freezer jam, you need to follow a recipe that is specifically designed for the no-cook freezer jam method.

A jar of blackberry jam without pectin on a white table

How to Serve Small Batch Blackberry Jam

This small batch blackberry jam is delicious spread on toast (like the English Muffin Bread shown here), dolloped on biscuits or cornbread, spooned over pancakes or waffles, stirred into yogurt or oatmeal, or drizzled over ice cream.

The jam is also a great gift to share with friends, neighbors and family at the holidays. I love to pull a jar out of the pantry, tie a nice ribbon around the lid, and gift it to someone in December. I don’t have to fuss with baking or shopping during the busy season, and it’s nice to enjoy a taste of summer during the cold, gray months.

Recipe Variations

  • You can use an equal amount of raspberries in this recipe, or try a combination of blackberries and raspberries.
  • Reduced Sugar: I know that it might be tempting to play with the measurements and try to create a lower-sugar jam, but trust me: you need all of that sugar for this recipe. Stick with regular granulated sugar (instead of sugar substitutes like Splenda or stevia) and do not decrease the quantity called for in the recipe. Jam making is an exact science, so measuring the correct quantities of fruit, sugar and lemon juice are essential to a successful batch of jam.
  • Larger Batch: Since jam-making is an exact science (as noted above), many experts suggest that you should not try to double or triple a recipe to make a larger batch. If you adjust the recipe in any way, the jam may not set properly. That said, if you have a lot of fresh berries on hand and you’d like to give it a try, feel free! Worst case scenario, the jam is thinner and you call it “blackberry sauce.” Hah!
Overhead shot of a spoon in a jar of homemade blackberry jam

Tips for the Best Blackberry Jam Recipe

  • Weigh the berries — don’t measure by volume. In canning, the ratio of sugar to acid is important to create a safe product that properly sets. To account for differences in produce size, I always recommend weighing your blackberries on a kitchen scale to make sure that you have exactly 1 pound of fresh fruit.
  • Leave ¼-inch of headspace in each jar. The proper amount of headspace is important to ensure a vacuum seal. If there’s too little headspace, the jam may expand and bubble out when air is being forced out from under the lid during processing.
  • Bottled lemon juice (rather than freshly-squeezed lemon juice) has a consistent level of acidity to ensure a safe product that sets properly.
  • If you don’t want to bother with canning the jars in a water bath, no problem! Just transfer the jam to jars, let them cool completely at room temperature, and then store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

What can I do with freshly picked blackberries?

Since this recipe yields a small batch of jam, you might have some extra fresh blackberries on hand. In that case, be sure to make a refreshing pitcher of old-fashioned blackberry lemonade or a dish of blackberry cobbler for dessert! The berries are also delicious in this croissant breakfast casserole, in these lemon muffins, or in lieu of mandarin oranges in this house salad.

Front shot of a spoon in a mason jar full of old fashioned blackberry jam

More Homemade Jam Recipes to Try

Side shot of two jars of small batch blackberry jam on a white table

Blackberry Jam

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Cooling Time 12 hours
Total: 12 hours 55 minutes
Servings 2 (half-pint) jars
Calories 31 kcal
Make this easy, old fashioned blackberry jam with or without pectin! The small batch recipe yields two jars of sweet, fresh, homemade jam!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup bottled lemon juice
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon powdered pectin tossed with 1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine blackberries and sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  • Use a potato masher to mash the berries in the pot, releasing the juices.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Once the mixture boils, add the lemon juice; cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 15-20 minutes.
  • For a thicker jam, whisk together pectin and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle the pectin mixture over the jam and stir to combine. Cook for exactly 1 more minute, then remove from the heat.
  • Divide the jam between 2 sterilized 8-ounce glass jars, leaving ¼-inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth, then secure the lids and bands.
  • Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars to a towel on the counter. Let stand, undisturbed, for 12 hours at room temperature. Check the seals after 12 hours by pressing the center of the lids. If the lid gives or the center button remains popped up, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Properly sealed jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 8 months. Refrigerate after opening.

Notes

  • Weigh the berries — don’t measure by volume. In canning, the ratio of sugar to acid is important to create a safe product that properly sets. To account for differences in produce sizes, I always recommend weighing your blackberries on a kitchen scale to make sure that you have exactly 1 pound of fresh fruit.
  • Leave ¼-inch of headspace in each jar. The proper amount of headspace is important to ensure a vacuum seal. If there’s too little headspace, the jam may expand and bubble out when air is being forced out from under the lid during processing.
  • Bottled lemon juice (rather than freshly-squeezed lemon juice) has a consistent level of acidity to ensure a safe product that sets properly.
  • If you don’t want to bother with canning the jars in a water bath, no problem! Just transfer the jam to jars, let them cool completely at room temperature, and then store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe adapted from Taste of the South magazine.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 31kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 25mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 30IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg
    Keyword: blackberry jam, blackberry jam with pectin, blackberry jam without pectin, homemade, old fashioned
    Course: condiment
    Cuisine: American
    Author: Blair Lonergan
    blair

    Hey, I’m Blair!

    Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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    Comments

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve always made homemade blueberry jam with my nieces and nephew and sister in Connecticut.. this surely looks and sounds easy to make without that pectin ! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for your lovely blog and sharing your great recipes with all of us Blair ! God bless your dear heart.

    2. 5 stars
      why do most recipe for blackberry and other berry add so much sugar the pectin recipe 5 cups berrys 7 cups sugar i just made some and i used 8 cups berry and 4 cup sugar glad i didn’t use the 7 cups i think your recipe use even less sugar

    3. 5 stars
      I had 1.5lbs of blackberries, so adjusted the recipe for that and it was still so easy and delicious! Thanks for providing a small batch recipe for little home gardens!

      1. Wonderful! I’m so glad that it worked well with the berries you had on hand. Enjoy that jam! Thanks, Shannon!