Homesteading Skills: How to Make Old-Fashioned Blackberry Jam

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Skip the sugar and pectin, and enjoy the true flavor of ripe summer blackberries with this easy old-fashioned blackberry jam recipe!

Blackberries aren’t a fruit I get very excited about. They are a pain to pick (literally), and ours tend to be small and not particularly tasty. Oddly, blackberry jam is one of my absolute favorites! The flavor tends to be concentrated by the cooking process, and I find blackberry jam to be one of the most flavorful and delicious homemade jams – especially when you make it the old-fashioned way. Old-fashioned blackberry jam contains no pectin and can be made with significantly reduced quantities of sugar. This particular recipe, for example, contains NO added sugar at all – but it’s still incredibly delicious!

Whether you find large quantities of blackberries on sale this time of year at the supermarket or your local farmer’s market or grow them yourself, if you end up with loads of them and no time to make jam, these can easily be frozen and made into jam later, so don’t panic! Or, if you don’t have a lot of berries, this jam recipe is perfect for small batches. Just adjust the recipe below accordingly if you want to make a larger batch.

Below are the basic instructions for making this delicious jam. If you prefer your jam a little sweeter, you can add 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar to the berries when you put them on to cook. If your berries are already very sweet, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice (store-bought). (I always add this, as I like the hint of tartness it adds, and that way I can make sure it has enough acidity to be safe.)

Old-Fashioned No-Sugar, No-Pectin Blackberry Jam Recipe

Makes approximately 4 1-cup jars, or 2 pint jars.


  • 4 Cups Freshly picked and washed berries (or frozen and thawed)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice if using sweet blackberries
  • 1 Cup Grape Juice (undiluted)
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar (optional)


  1. To get started, get out your canning equipment. We will water bath process this jam; you’ll need your canning pot, lids, jars in your choice of size (I like smaller jars for jam), rings, etc. — you know the drill. Get yourself set up to can before starting to make your jam.
  2. Prepare your water bath canner by turning the heat to medium. Make sure the water level is deep enough to completely cover your filled jars of jam by at least 1 inch.
  3. You’ll want to use a large stainless or enamelware pot for cooking up your jam, and put it on low heat. Dump in your clean/washed berries, I slightly crush mine with a potato masher but this is optional.
  4. Turn heat up to medium. Dump in grape juice (and sugar if using) and stir.
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until jam thickens. This may take 30 minutes or so. Use the saucer test or the spoon test to check for thickness. (Remember that it will thicken as it cools! I cooked mine too far once and ended up with something resembling blackberry glue; it was still delicious, but heading into taffy-like territory so it was a bit hard to spread.)
  6. Once the jam has reached the desired thickness, remove from heat and ladle the jam into jars to 1/4 inch headspace, remove air bubbles and add more jam if needed to stay at the 1/4 inch headspace. Make sure jar rims are wiped clean, put lid in place, fasten the ring down, and set in the canner rack. Repeat with remaining jam.
  7. Bring water to a full boil in the canner and then process for 15 minutes. When my timer goes off, I turn off the burner and remove the lid for 5 minutes or so.
  8. Then carefully (with a jar lifter) remove jars and set them on a towel to cool for 24 hours.
  9. After 24 hours, check seals, remove bands, wipe down the jars, label lids, and put them on the pantry shelf.
  10. Enjoy all year long!
Recipe Source: MelissaKNorris.com


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