Apple Jam is an old fashioned way to preserve apples, and it’ll add amazing flavor to your morning toast.
Just about everyone’s heard of applesauce, and if you have an apple tree in your backyard chances are you’ve cooked up a batch or two. The problem is, it’s not all that popular with the over 5-year-old crowd.
Why not try a different apple preserve this year? Namely, this tasty apple jam that’s just bursting with fresh apple flavor.
I make mine with just three simple ingredients, diced apples, sugar, and a splash of lemon juice. Apples are full of natural fruit pectin, so this jam gels beautifully into a chunky preserve with a bright golden color.
How to Make Apple Jam
The trick to making apple jam, without having it turn into apple sauce, is macerating the apples in sugar overnight. The sugar draws out liquid from the apples and firms up their texture, meaning the apple chunks won’t just dissolve into sauce as soon as they hit the heat.
Start by peeling and coring your favorite firm-fleshed apple variety. Apple varieties used for pie tend to work well here because they’re generally the type that hold their shape well. Granny Smith, Empire, Honeycrisp, or really any other good firm apple with a crunch.
Tart, acidic apples will give the best flavor to the finished apple jam, and if you use apples that are quite sweet, I’d suggest adding a bit more lemon juice to enhance the flavor.
You want the apple chunks to be relatively small, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubed. They’re really not going to break down much smaller as you cook them, so cut them just a smidge bigger than you’d want them to end up in the finished apple jam.
Splash the diced apple with lemon juice and toss the pieces to coat. I use about 2 tablespoons per pound (4 cups chopped), which is more than enough to keep the apples from browning and adds a delightful tart contrast to what would otherwise be a very sweet apple jam.
Next, weigh your chopped apples. For every pound of chopped apple pieces, add 1/2 pound of granular sugar.
Don’t have a scale? You can actually do it by volume pretty well too. It takes about 4 cups of diced apples to make a pound. A pound of sugar is about 2 cups. That means (roughly) 1 cup of sugar to every 4 cups diced apples.
In simple terms, here’s the ratio for making Apple Jam:
- 1 lb Chopped Apples (4 cups)
- 1/2 lb Granular sugar (1 cup)
- 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
(That’s the ratio, but the mixture cooks down quite a bit, and I’m starting with 4 times this amount (16 cups apples) to yield roughly 4-5 half-pint (8 oz) jars.)
At this point, you have apples tossed in lemon juice and sugar, and it’s time to let them rest overnight in the fridge. If you don’t have that much time, at least 4 hours is often enough to get the job done in a pinch.
Once the fruit has macerated in the sugar, strain the liquid into a jam pot and set the apple chunks to the side.
Bring the juice/sugar mixture to a hard boil on the stove, then add the apple chunks to the boiling sugar syrup.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, for 20-30 minutes. The jam should thicken visibly during this time, and it will thicken further when it cools.
To test for gelling, place a plate in the freezer before you start cooking the jam, and pour a bit of the jam onto the plate when you think it’s done. It’ll cool rapidly, and show you the finished texture.
Once the texture is to your liking, it’s time to jar up your apple jam!
Apple Jam Variations
I kept this apple jam recipe pretty simple, and all you’ll really taste is the fresh apple flavor. You can always add spices or other fruit to change things up.
Here are a few options that work really well:
- Add 1 vanilla bean toward the end of cooking
- Add 3-4 cardamom pods or 1 cinnamon stick added at the start of cooking
- A splash of rum or brandy added during cooking
Canning Apple Jam
You can make a quick refrigerator or freezer jam with this apple jam recipe, and it’ll last in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or freezer for up to 6 months. That said, I’m a big fan of shelf-stable home-canned preserves.
Canning apple jam means you can enjoy it year-round as a proper water bath canned preserve should maintain peak quality for 12-18 months after canning (and be fine to eat for longer).
To can apple jam, prepare a water bath canner before you start cooking your jam, and wash canning jars ahead of time.
Once the jam has finished cooking, ladle it into canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Be sure to use a spatula to de-bubble the jars, removing any air and adjusting headspace as necessary. This is a thick jam, so I found it particularly tricky to de-bubble. Do your best, and try for as little air trapped in the jam as possible.
Seal with 2 part canning lids and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the canner for an additional 5 minutes before removing them to a towel on the counter. (This extra time allows them to cool slightly and will help prevent siphoning as they’re removed from the canner. (I didn’t do this when I was canning apple pie filling and it made a big mess. The texture of this jam isn’t too different, so it definitly needs that 5 minutes extra in the canner with the heat off.)
Once cooled, check the seals and place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator to use within the next few weeks. Properly sealed jars should keep at least 12-18 months without losing quality.
Ways to Preserve Apples
Looking for more ways to preserve apples?
- 30+ Ways to Preserve Apples
- Canning Applesauce
- Canning Apple Butter
- Canning Apple Pie Filling
- Homemade Apple Wine
- Homemade Hard Cider
- Apple Cider Syrup
Apple jam is the perfect fall preserve, and the intense flavor of apples will warm your heart as it dresses up your morning toast. It comes together quickly, with just a few ingredients and no added pectin.
- 16 cups apple pieces, peeled, cored & diced (4 lbs prepared, from about 6 lbs whole apples)
- 4 cups sugar (2 lbs)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
1. Peel, core, and dice the apples. (Be sure to chop the fruit into small chunks, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes, as they'll remain close to that size in the finished jam.)
2. Toss the chopped apples in lemon juice and sugar, cover, and refrigerate for overnight (12 to 24 hours). This step is important, and at an absolute minimum, they need 4 hours, preferably more. Macerating the fruit in sugar helps it retain a chunky texture, rather than turn into applesauce.
3. Prepare a water bath canner (if canning, skip for a freezer jam).
4.Place the apple mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. The mixture will foam, so be sure your pan is big enough to handle foaming to avoid overflows.
5. Stir apple/sugar mixture occasionally, watching for overflows, and cook for about 20-30 minutes.
If apple pieces are too large, crush slightly with a potato masher (optional).
6. Cook until the apple jam reaches gel stage, using an instant-read thermometer or testing a small amount on a plate placed in the freezer. (Gel stage is 220 degrees F at sea level and a bit below that at higher elevations. The finished temperature drops by 1 degree for every 500 feet above sea level. I'm at 1000 feet, so my jams finish at 218 F.)
7. Once the jam reaches gel stage, immediately remove it from the heat and pack it into jars leaving
1/4 inch headspace, and seal with 2 part canning lids
8. Store the apple jam in the refrigerator for immediate use, or process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the canner and allow the jars to sit an additional 5 minutes before removing them to a towel on the counter. Check for seals after a few hours, and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.
Canned apple jam should last 18 months or more at room temperature if properly sealed (refrigerate after opening) Refrigerated jam should last at least 2-3 weeks.
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Fall Canning Recipes
Putting up more than just apples this fall?
- Canning Asian Pears
- Pear Cider (Perry)
- Pear Jam
- Pear Jelly
- How to Make Pumpkin Puree
- How to Make Pumpkin Powder (Pumpkin Flour)
- 20+ Ways to Preserve Pumpkin