Simple, straightforward recipe for a refined sugar free maple blackberry jam that uses just three ingredients! Choose to preserve the jam with a quick water bath canning or pop in the freezer. Either way, you will have a jam that bursts with summer berry flavor all winter long.
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I’ve been recipe testing this maple blackberry jam since we started harvesting blackberries and am SO happy to finally share this with you. It really turned out so delicious, plus it’s a very simple recipe and uses real food ingredients – and pectin isn’t included.
As someone who has gone on record for preferring uncooked freezer jams because they just taste fresher and more like the real fruit to me, you may be surprised that I’m sharing a cooked jam. And I am, too!
But here’s the thing – the less added refined sugar I eat (I now use none in my coffee or tea – which I thought would never happen – as well as using less and less in cooking, as you may have guessed from recipes like these) the sweeter everything tastes to me. Seriously, it’s like the amount of sugar was covering up so much flavor.
So when my daughter and I made a batch of freezer jam recently, even with the low sugar pectin, it seemed too sweet to me. I’m at the point where I just prefer things less sweet.
So I wanted to try a jam recipe that didn’t use refined sugar (or pectin that contains sugar – that’s what “dextrose” is in the ingredient list) and that was cooked as little as possible.
If you’re not using pectin, cooking is needed to release the natural pectin in fruit so the jam can thicken and gel. In order to cook less, I came up with a super simple recipe and tried it on a very small batch.
And I loved it! I think I’ve discovered that using a mild sweetener like maple syrup still lets the berry flavor be the star of the show and that maybe white sugar was what was covering it up in all the other cooked jam recipes I had tried.
Whatever the reason, this is a keeper recipe! At just three ingredients – berries, maple syrup, and lemon – it’s real food at it’s best. It’s also quick and easy to make and cooks for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the size batch you’re making.
How do you preserve this blackberry jam?
It’s your choice! You can either pop it in the freezer when it’s cooled down or you can take a few extra steps and do a simple water bath canning. If you do can it, it will be shelf stable which makes it easy to use and for gift giving. You’ll find instructions for both below.
Maple Blackberry Jam Recipe
Maple Blackberry Jam Ingredients
As mentioned, this is simple food at it’s best – you’ll need just three ingredients:
- fresh or frozen blackberries
- pure maple syrup
- whole lemon
For storing you’ll also need:
- Freezer containers if freezing (these plastic jars are made for jam, or choose small glass containers like these or even regular half-pint mason jars).
- Half pint canning jars and jar lids if canning (plus water bath canner and other supplies you can see in this Canning 101 tutorial).
When measuring the blackberries, this recipe was created with them “gently crushed” as I put it in the recipe below. I thought I’d illustrate what I mean here – you want to mash the berries just enough that you can get a good measurement like you see above.
If you just added the berries to the measure, there are a lot of air pockets, so add some, mash them a bit while still leaving some whole, add another layer and mash a bit and so on until you get 6 cups partially crushed fruit as seen above.
What if I’m starting with frozen fruit?
When using frozen blackberries, you’ll want to thaw them first at least partially. Add all the juices and berries to the glass measure and mash as above.
You won’t need as much crushing as with fresh berries, though, since the freezer has already started to break them down. If your berries are small, you may not need to crush at all.
Okay, but how many pints would I need to buy to equal 6 cups crushed fruit?
If you’re buying blackberries for this recipe, you’ll need 6-7 pints or 3-4 pounds of fruit.
However, this really depends on the size of your berries since larger berries take up more room in the pint containers. I suggest buying more than you think you’ll need with plans to freeze what you don’t use for the jam like this.
To make this easy jam, you’ll throw the ingredients into a large pot, bring it to a boil, and then simmer until it thickens.
If you make a small batch it will be ready in 30-40 minutes, a full batch will take longer to thicken and gel, more like 50-60 minutes.
Gel Tests for Jam
The biggest issue with cooked jams is testing for the gel point. There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Use an instant read thermometer and check for 221 degrees F (105 degrees C) which is the fruit setting point for jam.
- Dip a cold spoon into the jam and tip it gently. If it runs off in a sheet instead of liquid drips, it’s ready.
- Or use a cold plate test like I did:
Place a small plate into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before testing. Add a spoonful of jam to the center of the plate. Leave it to cool a minute. Tilt it a bit and see how it runs off – in sheets or drips?
Also, you can run a spoon through the jam – does it run back together fast or slow? Does the jam wrinkle a bit on the top?
If none of these things happen, cook another 5 minutes before testing again. Keep doing this test and cook until it’s a good gel.
BIG NOTE: Since this jam isn’t made with white sugar, it may not look like regular jams in the tests. As you can see in the tilted plate test above, the edges were still runny, though they didn’t run super fast.
Also, when I made the smaller batch, the jam set almost like a jelly at the 35 minute mark, but the double batch needed 50 minutes to get to the gel stage you see above – and the jam was looser after cooling than the smaller batch.
How To Freeze Maple Blackberry Jam
If you’re freezing the jam, let it cool a bit after testing for gel. Then spoon into your freezer containers, leaving a good 1-1/2 to 2-inch headspace to allow for freezer expansion.
Label the tops of your containers (I just use masking tape and a sharpie – it lasts in the freezer well) with the contents and date and freeze.
We keep our freezer jams for a year or more and they’re always great.
How to Can Maple Blackberry Jam
I chose to can the jam so that it would be shelf stable and easy to give as a gift. It really doesn’t add that much time to the process.
If you’ve not canned before, check out this article and/or the video below for the easy tutorial:
You’ll need 3 half-pint jars for a small batch or 6 for a larger batch, plus your canning equipment (see my favorite canning and preserving resources here).
Fill the jars with 1/4 inch headspace, attach lids and rings, and process 10 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let the jars sit for 5 minutes in the water before removing to a towel lined surface.
Let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Then remove the rings and check the seal of the lids by gently trying to pry them off. If any lid comes off, refrigerate the jar and eat it first.
Label the jar lids and store them in a cool dark place. You can keep the blackberry jam stored this way for a year to year and a half – if you have any that lasts that long!
Can I use other berries in this recipe?
I’ve made a maple blueberry jam before so I know that combo should work. I think raspberries would work as well, and even strawberries though they have less pectin and may need longer cooking. Experiment and see what works and what you like – I know I will be.
I can’t wait for you to try this recipe and let me know what you think! It’s now my go-to jam recipe.
To Freeze: To Can: *6-7 pints or 3-4 pounds should get you 6 cups crushed berries. I strongly suggest buying more than you'll need - you can always freeze the berries you don't use. **This makes a sweet-tart jam. You can increase to 2 cups if you'd like it sweeter (or you know your berries are really tart). You can halve the recipe to make a small batch, which also will take less time to cook down and gel.
-OR: Dip a cold spoon into the jam and tip it gently. If it runs off in a sheet instead of liquid drips, it's ready. OR
-OR: Place a small plate into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before testing. Add a spoonful of jam to the center of the plate. Leave it to cool a minute. Tilt it a bit and see if it runs off slowly; push jam with a spoon to see if it wrinkles.
Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 28 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 3mg Carbohydrates: 7.1g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 6.2g Protein: 0.1g
*6-7 pints or 3-4 pounds should get you 6 cups crushed berries. I strongly suggest buying more than you'll need - you can always freeze the berries you don't use.
**This makes a sweet-tart jam. You can increase to 2 cups if you'd like it sweeter (or you know your berries are really tart).
You can halve the recipe to make a small batch, which also will take less time to cook down and gel.
Other Jam (or Jam Like) Recipes To Try:
- Blackberry Chia Seed Freezer Jam
- Small Batch Honey Rhubarb Ginger Jam
- Slow Cooker Maple Sweetened Apple Butter
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