The lost Art of Making Artisan Jams & Preserves without commercial pectins

Interested in learning more about making Artisan Jams and Preserves without using store boxed pectin? If so read on.



The day I realized I did not need store bought pectin was a day for celebrating. A day of feasting on delicious Jams and Jellies I had made myself from all natural ingredients grown or harvested from my gardens and fields.

It’s an added expense that is not needed. One day after adding up all the ingredient costs of making my own jam I decided to go commercial pectin free. After all, how did the early pioneers do it? They did not have store bought pectin.

Pectin is a naturally occurring substance (a polyscaccaride) found in berries, apples and all other fruits and vegetables. When heated together with sugar, it causes a thickening that is characteristic of jams and jellies.

Here is my recipe for making no-fail easy strawberry or raspberry jam. Both are listed as low pectin fruits so this recipe reflects a 1:1 sugar fruit mix. Other fruits that naturally contain more pectin need less sugar to gel. I balance ripe fruits and slightly under ripe fruit together because fully ripe fruit is lower in pectin than slightly under ripe fruit. The other unusual thing I do is cook only enough jam to fill one jar at a time. Each jar is individually made and takes a total of 3 minutes of rapid boiling. I like this method because often I have small amounts of fruit to work with and if I mess up on one jar, it’s not so bad. Keeping  a canning journal with notes of creative recipes make them easier to recreate.


After making sure your fruit is clean, smash it or chop it to a chunky consistency. Raspberries crush very easily and won’t require much. Don’t wash berries until the very minute you intend to use them. They spoil rapidly once wet.

  • 1 lb washed berries
  • 1 lb white sugar
  • Juice of one lemon

Weigh your fruit and sugar and mix with the juice of a lemon into the prepared fruit. Let this mixture set for a couple hours or overnight in the refrigerator to allow the pectins to begin their work.

Place one jar full of fruit mixture into a stainless steel 10″ or larger skillet or non-reactive pan. Bring this to a rapid boil stirring constantly. Boil for 3-5 minutes. (Jelly Jar size is 3 minutes). Start timing when the fruit reaches rapid boil. Pour into a clean prepared jar. Leave a 1/2 inch space between the fruit and the top of the jar. Clean off rim of jar and seal tightly. Set the jar upside down for 5 minutes then flip it back over. The jar will seal as it cools. Label and store in a dark cool place for up to one year. You can also just refrigerate it and eat it fresh!


If you cannot tell when the jam has gelled you can do the cold spoon test. Place a metal spoon into the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Dip the spoon into the boiling jelly; raise it high above the pot; turn the spoon so the syrup runs off the side. If the syrup forms 2 drops that blend together and fall off the spoon as one “sheet” the jelly should be done.

Continue this process again until all the fruit is used.

Once you have done one batch of jam this way you can start experimenting with using less sugar or mixing a high pectin fruit with a low. The options are endless.



How to prepare the jars, lids and rings:

Wash your jelly jars and boil them for at least 5 minutes in clean water. I drop my rings in too. Some recipes say to keep the jars hot by placing them in a warm oven. Since I do my jars individually I microwave my jars with some water in it for one-two minutes just before use. Lids should be boiling hot.

Tip: Remember, only low pectin fruits need lemon juice added. High pectin fruits need 40-50% less sugar. Other sweeteners can be substituted but these will need some experimenting. Let the experiments begin!

Non-Reactive Pan:  When a recipe calls for a non-reactive cookware, use clay, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel. Don’t store your fresh fruit in metal pans either. Unless it is stainless steel the acid in the fruit reacts with the pan and causes all the fruit to have an off taste. Same goes for stirring utensils. 



3 thoughts on “The lost Art of Making Artisan Jams & Preserves without commercial pectins”

  1. I made some raspberry jam this way and substituted half my sugar for all natural Stevia. I love the taste and I feel better about eating more than I should. It’s a great low-calorie option.

    Thanks for the easy recipe and the courage to experiment!


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