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Christmas Jam is a perfect gift to share with friends during the holiday season, a delicious topping for biscuits or toast, and a bright addition to a charcuterie board with cheese, crackers, and other snacks. The strawberry cranberry jam is flavored with fresh orange zest and warm spices for a festive, sweet treat!

Jar of Christmas jam on a cutting board with biscuits

Cranberry Jam Recipe with Cinnamon

During the months of November and December, Yoder’s, the little country market near our house, sells “Christmas Jam.” I always scoop up a few jars of the traditional Amish jam, since I love the sweet-tart combination of strawberries and cranberries paired with bright orange zest and warm spices. It’s a beautiful condiment to have on hand for festive holiday meals throughout the season — from weekend brunches to cocktail parties and hostess gifts. Best of all, it’s easy to make on your own at home, too!

Chopped strawberries in a food processor

What is Christmas Jam?

Christmas jam is a simple homemade jam made with strawberries, cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. It’s sweetened with sugar and thickened with liquid fruit pectin. The jam has a sweet-tart flavor, with a touch of citrus, and subtle warm spices in the background. It’s not overpowering, but just tastes (and smells) like the holiday season!

Perhaps one of the best aspects of this recipe is that it can be made with fresh or frozen fruit. That’s right — grab the berries from your grocer’s freezer case in the middle of winter — there’s no need to seek out fresh fruit in December! You can also prepare the jam without the orange zest or without the spices. Tweak it to make it your own!

Zesting an orange over a white Dutch oven

Ingredients

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

  • Strawberries: I use a 40-ounce bag of frozen strawberries.
  • Cranberries: fresh or frozen will work — whatever is available.
  • Orange zest: the zest is the outer layer of the peel, which holds all of the flavorful essential oils. Be careful not to grate off any of the white pith underneath, which has a bitter taste.
  • Cinnamon, cloves and allspice: warm spices that make the jam taste like the holiday season! We use a fairly small amount of each of these spices so that they don’t overpower the natural flavors of the fruit.
  • Sugar: you read that right — you’ll need a 4-lb. bag of sugar! I know it’s a lot, but this is the amount required to ensure that the jam sets properly. I have not tested the recipe with less sugar, so if you’re looking for a lower-sugar option, try it at your own risk!
  • Liquid fruit pectin: to thicken the jam and help it set. It’s mandatory for this particular jam recipe, so don’t omit this key ingredient.
Ladling Christmas jam from a white Dutch oven

Equipment Needed

  • 10 sterilized half-pint mason jars and lids: this recipe yields enough for about 10 (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 jam. Allow plenty of room for the mixture 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: to stir, stir, stir!

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.

Canning jars of preserves in a hot water bath

How to Make Christmas Jam

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 counter full of jars of Amish Christmas Jam canned and ready for the pantry. There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing that “pop” as the lids seal!

  1. Chop the strawberries and cranberries in a food processor. You can also do this by hand, if you don’t have a food processor.
  2. Combine the fruit, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and sugar in a large Dutch oven.
  3. Boil for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the pectin, then boil for exactly 1 more minute.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes, skim off the foam, and ladle into sterilized jars.
  6. Secure the lids.
  7. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
  8. Rest at room temperature, undisturbed, for 12 hours.
Square side shot of Christmas jam jars

How long does it take for Christmas 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. When you first ladle the Christmas jam into the jars, it will seem very thin. Don’t worry — it will thicken as it cools. Patience is key.

Side shot of biscuit spread with strawberry cranberry orange jam

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 Christmas jam should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place (such as a pantry). The homemade jam will last for up to 8 months.

How to Decorate Jam Jars for Christmas

I stick with simple, festive decorations on my jars of jam. Just a red and white gingham ribbon tied around the top is my favorite! You can also add a sprig of fresh greens, tie on little gold jingle bells, or create Christmas jam labels.

Side shot of jars of Christmas jam decorated with red and white ribbon

What do you give jam with as a gift?

A jar of jam and a thoughtful holiday card make a great gift for friends, family, and neighbors throughout the holiday season. If you want to assemble a larger gift basket, try pairing the jam with some freshly-baked biscuits and country ham, or with a loaf of Dutch oven bread.

Since this strawberry and cranberry jam is also delicious on a charcuterie board for party appetizers throughout the holiday season, create a hostess gift basket with the jam, a bottle of wine, gourmet crackers, a batch of homemade pimento cheese, or some candied pecans.

Recipe Variations

  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can coarsely chop the fruit by hand — it just takes longer.
  • Swap out the frozen strawberries and frozen cranberries for fresh fruit instead. Those measurements are included in the instructions below.
  • I know that a 4-lb. bag of sugar sounds like a lot (and it is), but that is the correct measurement for this recipe. It might be tempting to try to create a lower-sugar jam, but do so at your own risk. 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 pectin are essential to a successful batch.
  • For a smaller batch of jam, cut all of the ingredients in half. Just be sure to keep all of the ratios exactly the same so that the jam sets.
  • 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.
Overhead shot of a jar of Christmas Jam on a wooden cutting board with a side of homemade biscuits

Tips for the Best Christmas Jam Recipe

  • Weigh the berries, or use package weight measurements. 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 strawberries and cranberries to make sure that you have the proper amount.
  • Thaw the frozen fruit in the fridge overnight, or use partially-thawed fruit. I find that the partially-thawed fruit is perfectly fine for chopping in a high-power processor without as much juicy mess.
  • Do not purée the fruit in the food processor. Just pulse the berries to chop them into smaller pieces. If you have some larger chunks left, you can always mash them in the pot with a potato masher or wooden spoon as they cook.
  • The zest is the outer layer of the orange peel, which holds all of the flavorful essential oils. Be careful not to grate off any of the white pith underneath, which has a bitter taste.
  • It’s important to boil the fruit mixture with the pectin for exactly 1 minute. If you overcook the pectin, it may break down and fail to gel.
  • 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.
Hands holding a jar of Christmas jam with a ribbon around it for a gift

More Homemade Jam Recipes to Try

Jar of Christmas jam on a cutting board with biscuits

Christmas Jam

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Resting Time 12 hours
Total: 13 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10 (8 ounce) jars approximately
Calories 47 kcal
Christmas Jam — a combination of strawberries, cranberries, orange zest and cinnamon — is a perfect gift to share with friends during the holiday season, a delicious topping for biscuits or toast, and a bright addition to a charcuterie board!

Ingredients
  

  • 40 ounces frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed or partially thawed (or sub with 2-½ quarts fresh strawberries, hulled)
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed or partially thawed
  • Zest from 2 oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 4 lbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 pouches (3 ounces each) liquid fruit pectin

Instructions

  • Coarsely chop the strawberries and cranberries in a food processor or grinder (do not puree). It’s fine if you still have some larger chunks of fruit – you can mash them with a potato masher or a wooden spoon while they’re cooking. You don’t want the fruit totally pureed, because this is jam (not syrup or jelly!) – and it should have some chunky pieces of fruit throughout.
  • Transfer the fruit to a large Dutch oven. Add orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and sugar.
  • Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a full rolling boil, continue the boil for exactly 1 minute.
  • Remove from the heat; stir in pectin and return to a full rolling boil. Once the mixture returns to a full rolling boil, set a timer and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  • Cool for 5 minutes; skim off the foam. At this point, the mixture will still be quite thin – it will not look like a thick jam. That’s fine! It will thicken and set as it cools.
  • Carefully ladle the hot mixture into hot, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving ¼-inch of headspace. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth; secure the lids. 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, or use package weight measurements. 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 strawberries and cranberries to make sure that you have the proper amount.
  • Thaw the frozen fruit in the fridge overnight, or use partially-thawed fruit. I find that the partially-thawed fruit is perfectly fine for chopping in a high-power processor without as much juicy mess.
  • Do not purée the fruit in the food processor. Just pulse the berries to chop them into smaller pieces. If you have some larger chunks left, you can always mash them in the pot with a potato masher.
  • The zest is the outer layer of the orange peel, which holds all of the flavorful essential oils. Be careful not to grate off any of the white pith underneath, which has a bitter taste.
  • It’s important to boil the fruit mixture with the pectin for exactly 1 minute. If you overcook the pectin, it may break down and fail to gel.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 47kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 14mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 3IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: Christmas Jam, Strawberry Cranberry Jam
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. Hi! You’ll need liquid pectin for this particular recipe. The liquid pectin and powdered pectin are not interchangeable, so if you want to use powdered pectin, you’ll need to adjust the quantity of pectin and the cooking process.