How to Make Red Raspberry Jam

Making delicious jam can be relatively simple if you prepare it with this streamlined method. Fruit is particularly amenable to canning because of the acid that it contains. Adding sugar in high concentration will also help with preservation. Many recipes call for extended boiling to reduce the volume (i.e. reduction) but if the sugar is added up front, it minimizes the boiling step and preserves more flavor.


  • 2 cups (1 pint, 500 mL) perfectly ripe berries, cleaned and sorted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • A pat of butter or margarine (optional)


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    Pick a pint of fully ripened fresh berries.
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    Pick through the berries that you picked fresh to remove any dried up berries or debris. All berries should be rinsed in cool water.
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    Place the mason jars with lids and rims in a gallon pot. Add an inch of water to the bottom, cover securely, bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
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    Place the berries into a quart pot. Measure an equal volume of granulated sugar to the berries you have (one pint in this case).
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    Pour the sugar over the berries.
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    Use a stiff whisk to thoroughly mix the sugar into the berries. Stir into the corners of the pot to wet any pockets of sugar hiding there.
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    Mix until the juices are drawn out so that the entire mixture becomes wet.
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    Place the stirred mixture of sugar and berries on the stove, add a thermometer and apply medium heat with stirring.
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    Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and heat until the "oily" liquid rises to near the top of the pot. Pay attention and do not allow the mixture to boil over.
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    Watch to see that the temperature stabilizes at 104 C (219 F) if the proportions of sugar and berries was correct. If the temperature is less, add sugar by the tablespoon until it gets to the right temperature. Be aware that boiling sugar solutions will burn you quickly and seriously!
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    Take great care and pour the boiling hot mixture into the sterilized jars. Leave about a quarter inch of headroom. A canning funnel (not used here) makes for less mess. Wipe the jar rim with a clean towel, if there is any jam on the jar rim. The rim must be clean in order to have a good seal.
    • The frothy foam shown in the photo is edible, but it's not the most attractive or tasty part. You can skim it off with a spoon, if you wish. A pat of butter or margarine added as the jam boils also helps keep so much foam from forming.
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    Immediately cover the boiling hot jam with a sterile lid and secure lightly with a rim.
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    Lower the jars onto a rack in a water-bath canner or large stock pot. If you use a large stock pot, place a rack or other spacer on the bottom so that the jars do not rest directly on the bottom of the pot. Add enough hot water to cover them by 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm). You can measure it to the first knuckle, as shown.
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    Cover the canner and bring the water to a gentle boil. Boil for 10 minutes, adding 5 minutes to the processing time for each 3000-foot increase in altitude.
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    Remove the jars from the boiling water. Jar tongs are a secure and safe way to do this, or you may be able to raise the entire rack in a water-bath canner. Place the jars on a clean towel to cool.
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    Allow the full jars to cool for 24 hours in a place free from drafts. You may hear the metal lids make a loud “plink” sound. That is because the contents are cooling, which creates a partial vacuum in the jar.
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    Check to make sure that the jars have sealed. The vacuum created when the contents cooled should have pulled the "dome" lid down very tightly. If you can press the center of the lid down, it did not seal. It should not spring back. If any jars have not sealed, you can place a fresh lid on them and process them again, or you can refrigerate those jars and use the contents soon.
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    Wash the jars in cool, soapy water to remove any sticky residue on the outsides. You can remove the rings at this point, since the seals should be holding themselves on securely. Allow the rings and jars to dry thoroughly before replacing the rings, to prevent rust.


  • If you are left with a partial jar at the end of a batch, you can either add it to the next batch (place it in with the fruit at the beginning), place it in a smaller jar, or refrigerate that portion and use it immediately. It's a great opportunity to sample your hard work.
  • Consult the latest USDA guidelines or Ball or Kerr books for process times according to jar contents and size, especially if you use an old recipe. Processing times have changed over the years because we have learned more about safety and, in some cases, because foods are being bred differently.
  • If a batch of jam or jelly makes more than you can use in 1-3 years, give some of it away as gifts. Canned goods keep well, but their shelf lives are not infinite.
  • Store sealed jars on a shelf, avoiding excessive exposure to heat or light. Refrigerate after opening.
  • If you prefer seedless raspberry jam, you can mash the berries and strain them through a medium-mesh sieve before starting, but you will need to increase the amount of berries you're using by about 25% to be sure you have the right ratio of sugar and berries.
  • Jam may be made from frozen fruit, too. Thaw it before you begin.
  • Rings and jars may be reused. Sealing lids must be replaced, since the soft sealing compound deforms with use.
    • Discard any rings that are dented or overly rusty.
    • If you're reusing older jars, visually inspect them for cracks or chips. Run a finger gently around the rim to make sure it is smooth and undamaged.
  • Labels can be made with regular printer paper (laser printing work best, inkjet ink tends to run), brush a small amount of milk on the back of the label and it will stick right to a glass jar (make sure it is cool first).
  • Label your canned goods with the year, at least. Also consider writing the contents, since apple and peach can be hard to tell apart a month later. Write your name, too, if you are giving the jars as gifts. You can use a sticker or a permanent marker. Either way, make sure the surface is thoroughly dry. Mark your jars on the seals if you want to reuse the jars easily
  • Keep jars sterile until they are filled by placing them in a 300F oven on a baking sheet lined with a terry-cloth towel. Remove one at a time as needed.
  • Try jam on muffins, sweet quick breads, light cakes, scones, and bagels (with or without cream cheese), in addition to the classics such as toast and peanut butter.
  • For thicker jam, include a few berries which are less ripe, or some less ripe apple. These fruits contain more pectin. Alternatively, for a lower sugar, thicker jam, used boxed pectin. [citation needed]
  • If you don't grow your own garden, look for good deals on fruit in season at local produce stands or farmers' markets. If you know you'll need a lot, visit or call in advance to order an extra quantity. While you're at it, ask if you can get a discount for buying in bulk.
  • Canning is a sticky job and it will make a mess. Jam dissolves in warm, soapy water. Leave yourself some time and energy at the end for cleaning up.


  • Avoid placing cold glass into hot water or vice versa. Sudden temperature changes can shatter the glass.
  • Do not attempt to double the recipe for jam or jelly. If you have multiple batches to do, do them separately. Doubled batches may not set properly.
  • While you might save jars from purchased products that fit a canning jar ring, real canning jars are best. They are designed with thick enough glass to withstand repeated processing and hand canning. Use those saved jars to store dry goods or your penny collection, instead.
  • Check the directions on your package of dome lids. Many are not meant to be sterilized at a high boil for so long and can be damaged.
  • Home-canned foods can harbor deadly diseases if they spoil or are mishandled. Always process foods for the recommended duration, clean and sterilize jars properly before use, and discard any jar of food that is not sealed. Also discard any jar with contents that smell wrong or appear moldy or discolored.
  • "Open-kettle canning," a once-popular method of sealing jars by inverting them so that the hot contents create the seal, is not considered safe. Paraffin methods are also questionable. It is best to use metal lids and process the jars for the recommended amount of time in a boiling water bath.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot with lid
  • Two pint mason jars with lids
  • Tongs
  • 12 gallon (1.9 L) stainless steel pot
  • Whisk
  • Thermometer, reads 120 to 240 F (-10 to 110 C)
  • Canning funnel
  • Apron

Sources and Citations

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