If you’re just learning how to make preserves, you’re in for an exciting journey. There’s not much better than knowing all your freshly-picked fruits and berries won’t go to waste because you can’t eat them quickly enough.
For the record, though, it’s not just fruits that you can preserve and give as gifts or store for your own use later. You can dehydrate apples, dry and save your cooking herbs, can tomatoes, freeze vegetables, and you can pickle your peppers (which is extra fun if you have enough to pick a peck of first, then you can pickle a peck of picked peppers).
But since we’re looking at how to make preserves, let’s take a look at some easy ways to get started. I’m all for canning tomatoes, but if you’re just getting started, you probably want to see how you like the process before getting into buying specialized canning equipment.
Find out how to make preserves that your friends will be asking for
With most preserves, as with many recipes in general, starting with tastier and fresher ingredients will yield tastier results. Here are a few recipes to get you started.
If you’re just learning how to make preserves, this No Sugar Freezer Jam is about as easy as it gets.
- Clean 2 pints of fresh fruit and slice them, then crush them with a fork. Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all work well for this. If you like, add some honey for sweetness. Let sit out an hour.
- Stir in one package of sugar-free no-cook fruit pectin, mixing for a couple of minutes or until the jam is as smooth as you like it. It will begin to set as you stir.
- Ensure everything is incorporated, then place into clean, sterilized containers and set on a cool counter overnight.
- Pro Tip: Leave a little space at the top of the container as the jam expands.
You can also get a little spicy with this Blackberry Jalapeno Jelly. This is also a great way to use extra peppers from your garden.
- Mix one package of powdered pectin and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl.
- Stir 4 cups of blackberry juice, the pectin mixture, and two minced jalapenos in a saucepan and boil for one full minute.
- Add 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the pan and boil for about another minute, until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat and stir to remove the bubbles and foam. This may take up to 5 minutes.
- Ladle warm jelly into sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal the jars and process them in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.
If you’re wondering how to make preserves as easily as possible, this three-ingredient Strawberry Jam is unbeatable.
- Crush 2 pounds of fresh strawberries and mix that with 4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
- Stir the mixture in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Continue to boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F.
- Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal—process in a water bath. If the jam will be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate.
You can follow a very similar process for this Quick & Easy Blueberry Jam, also made with just three ingredients.
- Add 4 cups of fresh blueberries and 2 tablespoons of water to a saucepan and mash them while the heat is on medium-high.
- Add 1 cup of sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved (about a minute).
- Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, turn the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Continue to boil for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring as needed, until the mixture reaches 218 degrees F (use a candy thermometer or a probe thermometer).
- Remove saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
- Transfer your steaming jam to a heatproof container and let it cool to room temperature (about an hour). Stir occasionally.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks—as if it will last that long!
As you can see, the process for how to make preserves is similar in many cases, and all of these recipes are nice and easy. To make these into gifts, simply use twine to tie a tag onto the jars and add a bow to the lid. I can promise that anyone you give these to will be grateful and will ask you for more. And as easy as they are, why not? Preserves are a great way to take advantage of a bountiful fruit harvest. If you want a video tutorial on how to make jam, watch our video on Edible Gift Ideas from Your Garden.
Have you made preserves as gifts? What tips would you add?