If you love apples and want to try making something unique, this apple jam recipe is just what you’re looking for!
Every fall and winter, I enjoy preserving apples by canning through a variety of ways. Apples are so versatile! You can can them by themselves to preserve maximum versatility, you can learn how to make applesauce, and of course, can apple pie filling.
But one of my favorites is having a delicious jam to spread on sourdough toast throughout the year.
About apple jam
I have no idea, because it is so good! Instead of smooth jelly, or pureed sauce, you have distinct chunks of apple in a sweet and cinnamony jam.
As with any jam, your process and ingredients are fairly simple. In this case, your ingredients are just apples, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice.
Apple Jam variations
You can customize your apple jam with some very simple variations.
Here are a few of my favorite:
- Adding spices such as apple pie spice and turning it into more of an apple pie jam
- If you don’t have allspice, adding a combination of allspice, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg for that delicious apple pie jam affect
- Scraping a vanilla bean into the jam before boiling
- Using lime juice instead of lemon juice.
- Shredding the apples instead of chopping them.
- Get creative and make your own variations!
What apples to use?
In general, the best apples for making apple pie are also the best for making apple jam. Sweet, tart, crisp, and firm.
- Granny smith. These are tart and very firm, which is a boon, since, like with pie, you don’t really want mushy apples, and the tartness add a nice acid flavor to counter the sweetness. Another positive for grannies is that they’re in nearly every super market and readily available in bulk markets/farmer’s markets.
- Honeycrisp. This one is sweet and flavorful, and still relatively firm. Sadly, Honeycrisps have a short season, and aren’t as widely available.
- Jonagold. This was always one of my favorites when I was a kid. It has a nice, sweet flavor like the golden delicious, but a firmer flesh, and a bit of a tart finish like the Jonathon.
- Gala apples. These are easy to find, and a pretty good all around apple
- Fuji apples. Another great choice with a wonderful sweet, but slightly tart taste that holds up well when cooked
I like to mix honey crisp, or jonagold with granny smith for making jam, but when it comes down to it, use your own preference, and don’t overthink it.
Can I use other apples in this apple jam?
Yes, of course! While firm, tart, and flavorful is the preference, I’m a huge fan of using what you have, and what’s available. Whether you have all one kind of apple, or a hodgepodge, use what you have, what’s on sale, and what works best for you.
Canning apple jam
Jams are very easy to can, and this one is no different.
One popular method amongst experiences canners is the “inverted jar” method of simply filling your sterilized jar with hot jam, fitting it with a sterilized lid, and turning it upside down for two minutes, before turning it right-side-up, and allowing it to seal itself as it cools.
The more approved method is water bath canning.
For this method, you will Fill your sterilized jars with hot jam, fit with sterilized lids, and place in a kettle of hot water, completely covered, and making sure there’s a rack in the bottom of the kettle to separate your jars from the heating element.
Heat your kettle to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes for half pints, and 12 minutes for pints.
Can I freeze this apple jam?
Absolutely! Just fill freezer-safe containers instead of canning jars, and store in your freezer for up to six months.
It honestly doesn’t get much easier than that!
The importance of sugar
In this recipe, we not only use sugar for flavor and preservation, we’re using it to help keep our apple chunks from turning mushy. How? After we peel and chop the apples, we’ll combine them with the sugar and lemon juice, and let them soak overnight. This process of maceration draws out moisture, and helps keep your apples crisp, even after they’ve been cooked.
Can I reduce the sugar?
While sugar is important, how much do you really need? That’s the million dollar question. the sugar in this recipe is adjusted both for flavor, and for gelling purposes. In other words, if you reduce the sugar, your jam may not set properly, and you’ll find yourself with a runnier result. If you decide it’s worth taking the risk, That’s fine! But I do recommend water bath canning, or freezing your jam if you do to reduce possibility of spoilage.
- What’s the difference between apple jam, and apple jelly? Jelly is made from juice, jam is made from the whole fruit. It’s really that simple! You can make apple jelly from bottled juice, making it a very simple process, but for most fruits, jam is much easier, because making fruit juice can be a real pain!
- Is apple jam the same as apple sauce? Absolutely not! Apple sauce is merely pureed apples. This recipe is for jam – a spread for your biscuits!
- What is the difference between apple butter and apple jam? Apple butter is pureed apples mixed with sweetener and spices, and cooked down to thickness. Apple jam on the other hand, is chopped fruit, which relies on pectin to achieve its thickness.
Apple Jam Ingredients
- 6lbs apples
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 packet of Sure gel powdered pectin
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
For this recipe, you will peel, core, and chop apples so that you have 12 cups of chopped apples for your recipe.
You can soak the apples in lemon or ascorbic acid water to keep them from browning as you peel and chop, but after you’re done, drain them, and put them in a big mixing bowl.
In that bowl, you’ll toss them with the lemon juice and sugar. Lemon juice is key for keeping your apples from browning.
Once everything is tossed together, cover the bowl, and store the apples in your refrigerator overnight (or at least for several hours). This process pulls some of the moisture out of the apples, and helps keep them firm throughout the jam making process so you end up with distinct bits of apple in your jam, rather than having apples that turn to mush as they cook.
This is why, when you remove your bowl of apples from the refrigerator the next morning, you’ll see quite a bit of liquid in it.
Transfer the apples and their juice from the bowl to a large pot, and stir in the pectin, and add your cinnamon stick. The cinnamon stick is optional, but it adds a lovely warm flavor to your jam.
Heat apple mixture over medium heat to boiling, and continue boiling until it reaches 215-220º. You may need to increase to medium-high heat to reach these temperatures. If you live at sea level, you’ll want to get closer to 220º, As a general rule, subtract a degree for every 500 feet you live above sea level (I live 1,200 feet above sea level, so I shoot for 218º). This is the temperature the pectin needs to reach to create a gel with the sugar.
Once your jam reaches the appropriate temperature, remove from heat, and remove the cinnamon stick.
Ladle hot jam into sterile, hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace – I typically use either pint or half-pint jars. This is easier if you have a canning funnel so you don’t risk dripping jam on the rims.
Most jam gets a little bubbly as it cooks, but settles down once you remove if from the heat. If it remains bubbly, and you see that you have air bubbles in your jars, use a butter knife to stir the jam and bring those air bubbles up.
Wipe rim with a clean, damp cloth, and screw lids and rings down firmly.
Instructions for canning
To can your jam, prepare your water bath canner by fitting canning rack in the bottom, and filling with hot water.
Lower jars onto the rack, make sure there is at least an inch of water covering jars, and place canner lid over it.
Bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil half pint jars for 10 minutes, or pint jars for 12 minutes.
Remove from heat, and let canner cool with lid on for several minutes. After this, you can leave canner alone to cool completely, or remove lid, let cool for another 15 minutes or so, then carefully remove jars, avoiding drafts, and covering jars with a towel to further protect them from drafts as they cool.
That’s it! You can easily double or triple this recipe to make a more jam to can.
If you’re into winter canning, also be sure to check out our favorite cranberry jam recipe.Print
How to make apple jam
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 7 cups 1x
- 6 lbs firm, ripe apples (12 cups after peeling, coring, and chopping)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 box of powdered pectin
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Peel, core, and chop apples into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. (note: apples can be tossed into a solution of 1/4 cup lemon juice and two cups of water to keep them from browning as you work. Just be sure to drain them before moving to step 2)
- Mix sugar and lemon juice with 12 cups of chopped apples in a large bowl
- Cover, and refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. The sugar will pull a lot of moisture out of the apples which will help keep the apple pieces nice and firm throughout the high-heat jam making process, and the liquid is important to allow you to boil your jam.
- Remove from refrigerator, and transfer to a large kettle
- Stir in powdered pectin, and add the cinnamon stick
- Heat over medium heat until mixture reaches a rolling boil
- Continue boiling for about 5 minutes, or until jam reaches 220º subtracting 1 degree for each 500 feet feet you are above sea level (i.e. I’m 1,200 feet above sea level, so I heat mine to 218º)
- Remove from heat
- Remove cinnamon stick, and fill sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space
- Screw down lids and rings firmly
- Place jars in a prepared water bath canner, making sure the canning rack is in the kettle (jars can break if they’re in direct contact with the bottom of your kettle), and that the water level reaches at least an inch above jar tops
- Bring to a rolling boil and process half pints for 10 minutes, and pints for 12 mintues
- Remove canner from heat, and let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing jars to finish cooling, protected from drafts.
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