Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (2024)

Blueberry jam is bursting with berry flavor, and it’s easy to make at home (no pectin required).

Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (1)

Mmmmm….blueberry jam.

There’s no quicker way to bottle up summer in a jar than a quick and easy homemade blueberry jam. The whole process takes just 30 minutes start to finish, and comes together with just three simple ingredients.

Every year I pack my freezer with homegrown blueberries, and once it’s bursting to the brim, we pack away flats of blueberry jam into our pantry. Though this recipe for blueberry jam is perfect for canning, it also works well as a small batch refrigerator or freezer jam.

Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (2)

Blueberries are generally considered a “low pectin fruit” and most blueberry jam recipes add boxed or liquid pectin. Though I’ve made blueberry jam with pectin in the past, the amount of sugar required is astronomical when using traditional pectin.

Low sugar pectin is an option, but I’m never entirely happy with the consistency. Most of the time it comes out more like jello in a jar rather than a smooth homemade blueberry jam.

But is added commercial pectin really necessary? Couldn’t I boost the pectin already present in blueberries by adding a bit of high pectin lemon juice instead?

The answer? Yes!

Making blueberry jam is incredibly simple, and you can easily make it with or without pectin. I’m going to take you through both processes, which are very similar, and let you choose how you’ll make your own blueberry preserves.

How to Make Blueberry Jam

Making blueberry jam is pretty straightforward, especially if you’ve made other jams in the past.

Pick over the blueberries, removing any stems, leaves, and debris. Make sure the fruit is ripe, and that you don’t have any green berries (or overripe moldy berries). Good blueberry jam starts with high-quality fruit, so don’t skimp.

Add the blueberries to a pot, along with the lemon juice, and cook over low heat until the blueberries begin to pop and release their juices. Starting slow is important since there’s minimal liquid in the pot early on and you don’t want the fruit to scorch.

Within a few minutes, the blueberries will be releasing juice and you can turn the heat up to medium-high, gently mashing the berries to encourage them to fall apart a bit. After about 5-8 minutes you should have a blueberry soup, and you’re ready to add sugar.

Add the sugar and continue to cook the blueberry jam until it reaches gel stage. With my blueberries, this took about 20 minutes (total start to finish) at medium-high heat.

Test for gel stage on a plate that’s been placed in the freezer. The jam should gel quickly as it comes in contact with the cold plate.

You can also use an instant-read thermometer to test for gel stage (220 F at sea level). If you’re above sea level, the finish temperature of jam drops by 1 degree for every 500 feet in elevation. (For example, I’m at 1000 feet in elevation so I finish my jams at 218 F.

You may need to turn the heat down towards the end to prevent scorching, but be sure to continue to cook until the jam thickens into a smooth spreadable blueberry jam.

Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (3)

Troubleshooting Blueberry Jam

Did something go wrong when you were making blueberry jam? Here are a few reasons why:

  • Jam Didn’t Thicken ~ If your blueberry jam didn’t gel, there are a number of things that could be at play. In pectin-based recipes, be sure you’ve added enough sugar for traditional pectin or that you’ve followed the directions to the letter (adding sugar in the wrong order will result in syrup rather than jam).

    For the no pectin variation, be sure that you added lemon juice to boost the pectin content and then be patient when you’re cooking. Continue cooking the jam until it’s thickened, even if you need to turn down the temperature towards the end to prevent scorching.

  • Jam is Bitter ~ Depending on the variety, blueberry skins can sometimes be bitter. Try making blueberry jelly instead, or choose very ripe fruit. Also, be sure you’ve avoided adding lemon pith if you’re using fresh lemon juice. Burned jam can also be bitter, so stir frequently and watch for scorching.
  • Jam is Sour ~ Try adding more sugar if you’re using a low sugar recipe. Otherwise, be sure your fruit is completely ripe and that you haven’t included any green fruit.

Canning Blueberry Jam

While you can make blueberry jam as a simple freezer jam, or just place the jars in the refrigerator, canning blueberry jam is incredibly simple.

We live in a solar-powered home here in Vermont, so I always try to conserve limited freezer space by canning whatever I’m able. Blueberry jam cans up beautifully in just minutes in a water bath canner and then you’ll have a shelf-stable jam just waiting in your pantry.

To can blueberry jam at home, simply prepare a water bath canner before you start making your jam. Prepare the jam as usual, but then fill clean canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Seal with 2 part canning lids and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit in the canner for an additional 5 minutes before removing them to cool on a towel on the counter. (This extra 5 minutes is important to prevent siphoning from the rapid temperature change, which I learned all too well when canning apple pie filling.)

Once cool, check seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry, and should maintain quality for 12-18 months.

Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (4)

More Ways to Use Blueberries

Homemade blueberry jam is amazing, but when you’ve really got a bumper crop, try these other easy ways to preserve blueberries:

Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (5)

Yield: 3-4 half pint (8 oz) jars

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Canning Time (optional): 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

This simple blueberry jam is easy to make at home with just 3 ingredients, no pectin required!


  • 4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)


  1. Place blueberries and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed jam pot and gently bring to a simmer over low heat. Mash the blueberries to help them release their juices.
  2. Once the blueberries have released their juices, increase heat to medium-high, and add sugar.
  3. Cook the jam until it reaches gel stage, about 20 minutes. Test for gelling on a plate that's been in the freezer, or use an instant-read thermometer (220 degrees F at sea level).
  4. Pour finished jam into prepared jars, seal with 2 part lids. Store in the refrigerator or water bath can for a shelf-stable blueberry jam.

Canning Instructions (Optional)

To can the blueberry jam, fill clean canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Seal with 2 part lids and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the jars to set in the canner for an additional 5 minutes (prevents siphoning) before removing them to cool on a towel on the counter.

Check seals after 24 hours and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use. Sealed jars should maintain quality in the pantry for 12-18 months.


Feel free to reduce the sugar by half (to 1 cup), but know that it will mean a lower total yield and longer cook time. Cane sugar gels the easiest, but honey or maple will also work.

Blueberries are acidic enough to can without lemon juice, and it's added for both flavor and added pectin. Canned or fresh lemon juice will both work.

Canning is optional, but the jam must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if it's not properly water bath canned. Refrigerate after opening either way.

Easy Jam Recipes

Looking for more easy summer canning recipes?

  • Blackberry Jam
  • Peach Jam
  • Blackcurrant Jam
  • Black Raspberry Jam
  • Grape Jam
  • Sour Cherry Jam

Simple Jelly Recipes

Maybe silky-smooth homemade jellies are more your thing?

  • Strawberry Jelly
  • Peach Jelly
  • Blackcurrant Jelly
  • Raspberry Jelly

Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (9)


Blueberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (2024)


How can I thicken jam without pectin? ›

Add chia seeds.

Those gelling properties can be put to work in jars of loose jam too. Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to each eight-ounce jar and stir to combine (you can also purée the jam together with the seeds if you'd prefer to reduce the visibility of the seeds).

Do blueberries have a lot of pectin? ›

Blueberries are naturally high in pectin, a starch that is used to thicken jams and jellies. These preserves don't need to be as thick as jam, so we won't be using it for this recipe. If I want a thicker consistency, I use cornstarch since I always have it in my pantry.

What happens if you don't use pectin in jam? ›

You don't have to, but proceed carefully. "If you are really anti-pectin, you can omit it, but you'll need to cook the jam longer. Doing so will remove most of the water content in order to get it to set up properly and in turn, will result in a smaller yield," adds Wynne.

How do you thicken homemade blueberry jam? ›

5 Ways to Thicken Jam
  1. Add chia seeds to the recipe. Chia seed jam is a method of making jam that requires no cooking. ...
  2. Use cornstarch. Cornstarch is a common thickening agent for jams, sauces, soups, and glazes. ...
  3. Try commercial pectin. ...
  4. Use gelatin sheets or powder. ...
  5. Reduce it on the stovetop.
Jun 13, 2022

Does lemon juice thicken jam? ›

Pectin makes jams and jellies firm. You need it so it is not runny, and is not overcooked to make it firmer. How do you make apricot jam without pectin? Making apricot jam without pectin is possible by using a combination of sugar and lemon juice to help the jam thicken.

What did people use before pectin? ›

The earliest fruit preserves would be made by mixing fruit pulp with honey and allowing it to dry in the sun, creating a texture more like that of a jellied sweet. The high-pectin quince lent itself to making this well-set fruit preserve.

Why is my blueberry jam so thick? ›

If jam comes out too stiff, it is often caused by overcooking fruit or the fruit spread having too much pectin. Pectin is naturally found in fruit and creates the gel and thickens jams and jellies.

Why do you add lemon juice to blueberries? ›

Lemon can enhance the flavor of blueberries by adding a touch of acidity that brings out their natural sweetness. Both lemon and blueberry are versatile flavors that can be used in a variety of dishes, from sweet to savory.

How long can homemade blueberry jam last? ›

Sealed Jars: Store jars with a proper seal (see indicators in “Step 5: Check the Jars” to know if the jar has a proper seal) in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Opened Sealed Jars: After you have opened a sealed jar of jam, it will keep refrigerated for up to 3 months.

Why are people avoiding pectin? ›

Pectin supplements may cause gas or bloating in some people. If you are allergic to apples or citrus, avoid these supplements.

Why do people not like using pectin? ›

Some people use it to good effect, but I tend to avoid it because I have gotten much better results by just using pectin-rich fruit that is just ripe enough, and then dialing in on the sugar and acid and heat. Jams that I've made with added pectin have often turned out too thick and rubbery, with a dull flavor.

Why do people not like pectin? ›

The Joy of Cooking has a lot to say about pectin and canning. Its authors are adamantly against the use of commercial pectin because they feel its use require the addition of too much sugar, to the point where you lose the essence of the original fruit.

Can you overcook blueberry jam? ›

To make jam, we combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice, and slowly bring the mixture to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Then we cook the jam rapidly until we reach the gelling point. If we're impatient and skip the first step, the jam quickly overcooks.

Why do you add lemon juice to jam? ›

Adding acid in the form of fresh lemon or lime juice is important for two reasons: First, it makes for a more well-balanced jam, returning some of the acidity lost with the addition of sugar. Second, pectin needs acid to properly activate, or firm up.

What is the difference between blueberry jam and blueberry preserves? ›

The primary difference between jam and jelly is that jam is made with fruit and jelly uses fruit juice. Preserves contain whole fruit or large pieces of fruit.

How do you fix jam that is too runny? ›

If the jam was too runny, then next time you might want to add about 20% more pectin to start with, or make sure you bring to a full hard boil for 1 minute (not less, and not more than a few seconds longer). If it was too thick, add a little less pectin, and/or a bit of fruit juice before you cook it!

How do you make jam more runny? ›

If, on the other hand, the jam is rock solid, that means you've gone too far and cooked it too long. You can try adding a little water to thin it out, but bear in mind that after overcooking a jam, you can't really get those fresh fruit flavors back.

How do you thin stiff jam? ›

If it isn't scorched though, here are some ideas to try: Slowly heat it in the microwave a few seconds at a time and then use it as usual. If it is still too thick, add some water while heating it in the microwave and then use it as a delicious and unusual pancake or ice cream syrup.

How do you thicken jam without pectin or sugar? ›

Bring the syrupy “jam” to boil in a pot. Dissolve 1 to 2 teaspoons of cornstarch for every cup of syrup in a small amount of cold water to make a slurry. Reduce heat and drizzle the mixture into the jam pot, stirring constantly. Gently simmer for 30 seconds, remove from heat, bottle and cool.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carlyn Walter

Last Updated:

Views: 6204

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carlyn Walter

Birthday: 1996-01-03

Address: Suite 452 40815 Denyse Extensions, Sengermouth, OR 42374

Phone: +8501809515404

Job: Manufacturing Technician

Hobby: Table tennis, Archery, Vacation, Metal detecting, Yo-yoing, Crocheting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Carlyn Walter, I am a lively, glamorous, healthy, clean, powerful, calm, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.