Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jillicious Jams

I really like to make jam. In fact, I really like canning. There is just something so great about a canning project that is satisfying and I feel a sense of accomplishment when the fruit is sealed in the jars and looks so pretty and delicious.

Yesterday, I made some raspberry jam using the raspberries I had left over from a wedding cake I did over the weekend. My new go-to book is one that my Mom gave me a couple of months called "So Easy to Preserve" by the Cooperative Extension--The University of Georgia. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is based at the University of Georgia where Dr. Elizabeth L. Andress teaches and has conducted research on home food canning and freezing methods.

It is an excellent resource on all types of food preservation. This book covers topics such as canning, pickled products, jellied products, freezing and drying foods. Every single recipe included in this book has been tested and if the directions are followed exactly, using the amounts that are listed, you can successfully put up many types of food.

If you are canning for the first time, or would like to make sure that your canning practices are up-to-date, please check their website for complete canning information.

Both the raspberry and apricot jams (the apricot jam is the second part of this post) that I made were processed using the Boiling Water Bath method. Please refer to the directions about this process and use them in conjunction with the directions listed below in the recipes.

*My notes are highlighted in this color.

Berry Jams
Adapted from So Easy to Preserve, pg. 207

Mostly Raspberry Jam *I call this Mostly Raspberry Jam, because I had a few blackberries on hand that needed to be used.

*Yields = (5) 1/2-pint jars of jam

4 1/2 cups raspberries
1 cup blackberries
3 1/4 cup sugar
*zest & juice from 2 lemons

1) Sterilize canning jars.

Combine berries, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.

3) Cook rapidly to, or almost to, jellying point, depending upon whether a firm or soft jam is desired. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.

4) Pour hot jam into hot jars, leaving at least 1/4-inch headspace (I left a little more, about 1/2 inch).

5) Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

6) Remove jars from water bath and carefully transfer to clean towel laid out on the counter and leave for 12 hours undisturbed. After 12 hours, remove rings and wipe down jars before storing.

Note: If seedless jam is preferred, crushed berries may be heated until soft and pressed through a sieve or food mill; then add sugar and proceed as above.

A few weeks before this jam session, I made some of the best apricot jam I've ever had. We had purchased some beautiful Rival Apricots from our local market that is always stocked with local Oregon grown produce. My mom decided to can most of them, but said that I could use the extra apricots for jam.

I had recently read about different flavors and specifically what pairs well with apricot. Vanilla was high on the list. I happen to have a few vanilla beans on hand and decided to experiment with this flavor combination. I wasn't disappointed. The vanilla bean really brought out the sweet apricot flavor and combined with the lemon zest and juice, the apricot was the star of the show! If you look closely at the next couple of pictures, you'll notice the lovely, black specks of vanilla beans scattered throughout the jam.

Apricot Jam
Adapted from So Easy to Preserve, pg. 207

Jill's Apricot-Vanilla Jam

2 quarts apricots (you can peel them first, but I left the peel on)
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons & 1 orange
1 1/2 vanilla beans, split

*Yields = (14) 1/2 pint jars of jam

1) Sterilize canning jars. Combine all ingredients; slowly bring to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. (I kept the mixture on low for the first 30 minutes, to really let the vanilla bean flavor infuse into the apricot mixture).

2) Cook rapidly until thick, about 25 minutes. (This may take longer, depending on the thickness of the jam you desire. Also, take out vanilla beans before jam is finished cooking.)

3) As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour hot jams into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

4) Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

5) Remove jars from water bath and carefully transfer to clean towel laid out on the counter and leave out undisturbed for 12 hours. After 12 hours, remove rings and wipe down jars before storing.

If there is one thing I hope that you'll take from reading this post, it's this: Follow safe and tested canning recipes and make sure you are aware of correct canning practices and procedures. Please check the National Center for Home Food Preservation website for complete information.

Happy Canning!


  1. Mmmmmmm. I love jam! My mom invented a recipe for spiced peach jam that is really good but I think my fave is strawberry.

  2. Jill - I love the name 'Jillicious Jams'! You should really experiment with that to add to your already thriving mastery! They look beautiful and tasty, and I admire anyone who has the patience to turn out jams, jellies, preserves etc. I've made some ginger preserves, and after the 6th jar, I needed a

    Having said all that..I have a gift for yooouu! You can 'pick it up' here:

    Just scroll to the bottom of that entry :)

  3. Just curious...

    Do you know if your jam recipe can be made with agave syrup or not? I don't eat refined sugar and would love to be able to make jams.


  4. Great!!
    I love your pictures, and I'll be doing raspberry jam in the weekend, too!!

  5. I've just finished making peach and apricot jams. I wish I'd seen this post before I started--the vanilla would have been a great addition!

    I'm bookmarking this because I'm going blackberry picking this afternoon...

  6. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from canning and preserving. Do you think it might be anthropological in nature? Connecting us with our forebears, helping to stave off the ravages of the coming season, keeping us in touch with the earth throughout the year. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but the tradition and art of canning perserveres even in the face of growing convenience on our grocery store shelves. I think that it is a true celebration of food, to do what you have described in this post!

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  7. Threads: Ha, ha you are always so great with words. :)

    Jeff: I'm making peach jam on Monday. We are picking peaches early that morning and I just found a couple of recipes involving spices and peaches--wow, it's like you read my mind! :)

    Lisa: First, I must say a big THANK YOU for the award (my very first!) and also I think I will experiment a bit more with the jams. :) My mom has been canning most of her life, so I continually learn so many great things from her and I'll pass them on here. :)

    The Cookie Blog: I haven't used agave myself, but I've been doing some research on this ingredient. From what I've found so far, it can be substituted for sugar in jam--but regular freezer or refrigerated jam and you add pectin to it, to help it thicken. I'm waiting to hear back from a couple sources about if it can be used in place of sugar in hot processed methods of canning and if anything else needs to be added. Thanks for asking such a great question and I will keep researching and let you know what I find out and I'm learning more too! :)

    Anna: Thanks! And I'm happy to know you'll be making jam too. :)

    Kate: Happy blackberry picking! I'm going to be doing some myself tomorrow. :)

    Casey: I will be checking out your website--what a fantastic idea! Yes, I've had my fair share of photo rejections from both sites and I will submit them to yours. :)

  8. Gorgeous jam, and beautiful photos =D. I love the sound of apricot jam - Yum!

  9. Apricot jam is one of my favorites. This brings great memories of all the canning my mom used to do when I was little!

  10. Thanks so much for posting this because this is as pure as jams could get with fresh fruits. That is what I was looking for!!! I am excited to try this!Since I moved to Austin, TX from Chicago, fresh fruits here is more available! I can't wait to explore this.

  11. I need this..... it is time for me to stop getting jams from supermarket which are mostly just sweet or extremely sweet!

    Thanks Jill for the jam session! Couldn't resist the look of your jam...


  12. Lauren: Thanks for visiting & I too, love apricot jam!

    Olga: That is one of my favorite memories too--in fact my mom and I still can together during the summer.

    Ja9: I'm so happy that this post was helpful for you--let me know how your jam making goes! :)

    Kris: You'll love making your own jam and I can't wait to see what you come up with!

  13. Sounds delicious! I love apricot jam. What a great idea to add vanilla bean!

  14. Isa: Thanks for visiting! I'm glad you like the vanilla bean idea. :)