Canning Small Batch Jam: A DIY Tutorial

Last summer I learned how to preserve my own jam, and I swore I would never go back to the store-bought stuff. There is just nothing like a spread of homemade jam on a warm biscuit! Now that summer has rolled on in again and it’s berry season, I thought I would go ahead and share with you how YOU can make and preserve your own jam too!

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

If you’ve never canned your own jam before and you find yourself as nervous as I was the first time, don’t worry! Canning jam is actually really easy. I like to can small batches of jam in particular for a few reasons:

  • You DO NOT need a water bath canner! {More on what that is later, if you’re unfamiliar}.
  • You can get away without having ANY “official” canning supplies beforehand {except mason jars and lids–you need those!}
  • When you open a jar of jam that has been canned, it’s recommended that you eat it within three weeks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be eating jam with every meal for the next 21 days!
LET’S GET STARTED

Here are some things you should be sure to have on hand:

If you want to get all your canning equipment (think jar lifters, canning funnels, things you might not already have at home) at once, you can purchase a canning kit for pretty cheap.

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

To begin, fill up your stock pot with water and place a metal trivet at the bottom of the pot, as shown above. In lieu of a trivet, some people use twisty-ties and tie a bunch of mason jar rings together for the same effect. Normally one would use a canning rack instead of a trivet or mason jar rings, but I don’t have one and haven’t needed one so far! The purpose of the trivet is to insulate the jars and keep them from touching the bottom of the pot, which is directly against the flame of the stove. Bring your water to a boil.

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

In the meantime, start making your jam! I used a basic raspberry jam recipe.

THE RECIPE
  • Equal parts mashed raspberries and white sugar

That’s really it!

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

Mash your raspberries with whatever you have that makes raspberries mash. I don’t have a potato masher, but another mason jar does the trick!

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

When your water begins to boil, put your little mason jars in the water using tongs or a jar lifter to set them in place. I use 4-once mason jars for a few reasons:

  • They’re little and cute
  • When you open a jar of jam, you can easily go through four ounces within the aforementioned three week period.
  • Since we are using a stock pot to can our jam instead of a full-on water bath canner {which are much larger pots designed for canning}, we need small jars. When set in your stock pot, jars are supposed to be covered by 2-3 inches with water. Using a bigger jar means you need a bigger pot of boiling water.

Let your jars sit in the boiling water for at least 10 minutes. This sterilizes them. After 10 minutes, carefully lift the jars {with tongs or a jar lifter} from the water and set them onto a clean towel {I usually set them upside down}. The towel is recommended as your counter-top is probably comparatively very cold. Leave the large stock pot of boiling water, as you will need it again shortly.

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

While this is going on, put your mason jar lids in a small {1 qt.} sauce pan filled with a little water, as shown above. Bring the water in this pot to a soft simmer. The purpose of this is to soften the orange-red gummy substance that circles the lid. Make sure the lids you are using have NEVER been used before {lids can only be used once; any more than that and they will not seal later} At this time, put a glass bowl in the freezer. You’ll see why later ;)

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

Now it’s time to start making jam! I measured out how many cups mashed raspberries I had and added the same number of cups of sugar to a 2 qt. saucepan. If this much sugar puts you into a diabetic coma, you can cut back the sugar {by as much as half, according to some}. Bring your soggy sugar and mashed berries to a roaring boil, stirring continuously.

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

As your berries cook, you will have this pink foamy stuff rise to the top. This is fine, but a lot of people don’t like the way this foam looks in terms of presentation when your funnel your jam into the jars. You can skim the foam off with a cooking spoon. Continue to boil your jam until you notice it start to get a little bit thicker, like a thin syrup {think maple}. This is where the cold bowl comes in.

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

Scoop out a small spoonful of jam and set it in the bottom of your cold bowl. Wait for about 30 seconds, allowing the jam to cool. Then tilt the bowl. If your jam runs down the side of the bowl, it isn’t ready yet. Continue cooking your jam a little longer and try the bowl test again in a few minutes. If your jam very slowly slides down the side or even sits in place, turn off the heat! Your jam is ready :)

From here, ladle your jam into your mason jars, making sure to leave about 1/4″ of space between your jam and the rim of the jar. A canning funnel is helpful here. Be sure to wipe off the rim of your jar with a damp paper towel, since sometimes your jar will not seal properly if jam has made its way onto the rim!

Using a canning wand, carefully scoop out a mason jar lid from the small pot of simmering water. Shake off any excess water form the lid and set it on top of the mason jar. Then tighten a mason jar ring around the lid and the jar {but do not over-tighten!}

From here, you can do one of two things. You can let the jars cool to room temperature and store your jam in the fridge for up to three weeks. OR you can can your jam and preserve it up to a year.

If you choose the latter option, all you need to do is set your closed jars of jam in your big stock pot so that they are resting on the trivet {you will need to use a jar lifter or your sturdy tongs to do this}. Bring the water to a boil again if it has cooled. Make sure that about 3″ of water is covering your jars. Once the water is at a boil, boil your jars for at least 10 minutes. This is called “processing” your jam. It kills any bacteria in the jar that will later cause your jam to go bad. After 10 minutes, turn off the pot of boiling water and let your jars sit in the water for five minutes before lifting them from the water and setting them on a clean towel.

This next part is the hardest part: You wait! As the jars cool, the heat from the jars and the relatively cool air around the jar interacts such that a vacuum is created. When this happens, the jar “seals” and your jam will be preserved for up to a year {although I usually try to eat these within at least 6 months because I’m paranoid like that}. You will know your jar has sealed when you hear that coveted “pop” sound. You will see that the lid of the jar caves in ever so slightly when this happens. Be sure not to push down on the lids during this time, as you may cause the lid to make the “pop” without the vacuum seal ever happening.

If you wait an hour and no popping has happened, no worries! You can either just store the jam in the fridge for three weeks, or you can re-process your jars. To do the latter, make sure you throw away the old lid and start over with a fresh one {the ring doesn’t matter–just the lid} and repeat the process described above {boil for 10 minutes, leave jars in the water for five, set them on the counter and wait}. Chances are, your jars will seal the first time and you will have some beautiful preserved jam!

Canning Small Batch Jam | www.EssentiallyEclectic.com | This jam is delicious makes makes for a great homemade gift!

I hope you enjoyed canning small batch jam with me! Do you have any great small-batch jam recipes you’d like to share? I would love to give them a try! Leave the recipe or a link to it in a comment below, or just leave some love if you enjoyed the post :) I love reading your comments!

P.S. DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small commission on products purchased through these links at no extra cost to you. Please see my FAQs and disclosure policy for more information. Thank you for supporting Essentially Eclectic! :)

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Comments

  1. says

    I just made freezer jam and used it for peanut butter and jelly bars. They are not just for kids. They were wonderful, in fact I went around and tried to force-feed my family. TheCafeSucreFarine site gave me her recipe for freezer jams. It is just wonderful.

    • says

      Now freezer jam is something I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t looked into. I have some jars for freezer jam (but I use them mostly for storing leftover homemade salad dressing currently) so I’m thinking I should give it a try! Is the process much different?

  2. says

    Love this tutorial Gabby! I made my first attempt at canning last year too, only with salsa from my tomatoes. I like the small batch stuff too ~ Pinning and doing this when my black berries are ready! =) Marcy @ day2day SuperMom

  3. says

    Thanks for a great tutorial, Gabby! I am hoping to my Strawberry Champagne Jam this week for the first time and this will be super helpful, I just need to find a metal trivet! Do you have to use a stock pot or can you just use a larger pot as long as they fit and the water covers?

    Rebecca @ Living Better Together

    • says

      Hi Rebecca! Absolutely–as long as the pot fits your jars and you have 2-3″ water covering the jar tops, you will be golden! If you can’t find a trivet that fits (or if the ones you find will scratch the Teflon off your pots) I recommend the rings-tied-together-with-twist-ties approach :)

      xoxo gabby

  4. says

    Hi Chelsea! It really is easy! But I know what you mean–I was intimidated when I made this the first time. I thought, well gee, what if I am just canning jars of botulism? (I have an unhealthy fear of botulism lol). I would call my grandma (a canner herself) and ask “well what if…?” and I was afraid the jars wouldn’t seal! So far, I’ve only ever had one can not seal, and it was because there was jam residue on the rim. Anyway, if you give it a try I can’t wait to see the beautiful results!! Have a great weekend :)

    • says

      You’re Welcome Michelle!! I know–I was surprised how easy this was when I first did it too. The hardest part is the canning process but that is really just a matter of knowing what do to, not so much specific technique I think. Thanks for stopping by!!

  5. says

    I love your idea of using smaller jars even at home. I usually only use the small ones when I am making up gift batches. We also found out that the jam tastes better in small batches. It is sweeter, doesn’t have to cook as long.

  6. says

    Great tutorial! I love making small batches as well, you can end up with some great jam and a new jar each week! Check the book, I think it is Small batch preserving or something like that for some great recipes. thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    Great tutorial, Gabby! I have tried my hand at canning a couple of times and just did not like it. However, I think taking the small canning approach may be more tolerable. Pinning and sharing on social media. Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays!

    Julie @ This Gal Cooks

    • says

      Hi Julie! I actually see where you are coming from. Sometimes it can stressful–I once made a peach jam and I had trouble prepping the peaches, and the jam just never got to the right consistency, and then the peaches floated to the top when they were put in the jars (not pretty!) and then a couple of the jars didn’t seal and I had to re-seal them, and it was a pain! Needless to say, that was the last time I made peach jam lol (although it tasted good!). This raspberry is pretty hassle-free in small batches I’ve found. Thanks for pinning and for stopping by!!

  8. says

    I agree completely….. one can never go back to store bought jam after making it yourself!! Great tutorial Gabby! Love all the pictures. We are pinning and featuring you at our Simply Create Link Party tomorrow night. Thanks for linking up! We can’t wait to see what you have come up with for next week. :)

    Melissa
    redflycreations.com

    • says

      Thank you so much Theresa!! I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial and I can’t wait to try freezer jam :) I’ve never made it before but it’s been on my to-do list forever!

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