Pineapple Jam is an easy way to preserve pineapple so you can enjoy the tropical flavor year-round. This sunny spread is perfect on sandwiches and toast, and it’s an unbeatable ice cream topping.
While pineapples aren’t exactly local Vermont produce, they’re a particular favorite in my family. Much of the year, they’re incredibly expensive and they’ll be $6 to $7 each, but for a few short months a year the grocery stores practically give them away.
The months of April and May are peak season for pineapples grown in Hawaii, and that’s a great time for buying pineapple for preservation. You can pick them up for as little as 89 cents each, and I’ll buy a few cases each time I go to the store.
Most of the pineapple goes into home canned pineapple chunks, which my kids love right out of the jar year-round. Last year we made pineapple wine, which was spectacular, and it made me realize that there’s more than one way to preserve pineapple.
I’ve made jam out of almost everything else under the sun, and I have nearly several dozen jam recipes posted…but not pineapple jam…until now!
How on earth has it taken me this long to make pineapple jam?
How to Make Pineapple Jam
Making pineapple jam isn’t all that different from making any other homemade fruit jam. You start by cleaning and chopping the fruit, and then cooking it down with sugar until it thickens.
Pineapples don’t actually have much natural pectin, but they still thicken up nicely when cooked. Technically, pineapple jam without pectin is “pineapple preserves” but really few people can tell the difference between jam and preserves anyway.
I’ll walk you through how to make pineapple jam, both with and without pectin. After having tried both, my preference is for pineapple jam without pectin because the flavor is much more concentrated.
Pineapple jam without pectin requires at least 1 part sugar to every 2 parts fruit. In this recipe, that’s 3 cups crushed pineapple to at least 1 1/2 cups sugar. If you want to reduce the sugar to make a low sugar pineapple jam, you’ll have to add low sugar pectin (like sure jell low sugar) to get the jam to set.
Preparing Pineapple for Jam
Regardless of the method you use, the process starts with crushed pineapple. You can use canned crushed pineapple from the store, but pineapple that’s been canned in tin cans has a “tinned” taste to it and it’s not quite as good as fresh pineapple in my book. I’m starting with one whole fresh pineapple (roughly 3 to 3 1/4 lbs as purchased).
First, remove the top and slice off the peel. Quarter the pineapple vertically and remove the core. (The core is tough, and won’t do well in the pineapple jam).
Then coarsely chop before placing the pieces in a food processor and pulse until it’s fine, but not completely pureed.
This happens quickly, literally only 2-3 pulses or you’ll liquify the pineapple.
If you started with a medium pineapple (about 3 to 3 1/4 lbs), then you should have about 3 cups of crushed pineapple (or about 1 1/2 lbs).
Once you have crushed pineapple, the process differs a bit depending on whether you’re making pineapple jam with or without pectin.
Pineapple Jam without Pectin
A basic full recipe for pineapple jam without pectin starts with 3 cups of prepared (crushed) pineapple from one medium fresh fruit (or from three 8 oz cans).
Place the pineapple in a jam pot and add in 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar. More sugar will yield more jam, and as you might imagine, is sweeter. If you use 2 cups of sugar, the yield is right about 3 cups of finished jam (or 3 half-pint jars). Using less sugar will result in about 2 1/2 jars.
Pineapples are naturally quite acidic, so you don’t need to add any lemon juice. That said, adding a few tablespoons of lemon juice will increase the yield as lemons are very high in pectin, and it’ll help cut the sweetness in an otherwise very sweet jam. Add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice if you’d like, but know that it’s optional.
Really all you need is crushed pineapple and sugar.
Bring the pineapple and sugar to a boil over high heat, stirring to prevent scorching. Boil hard until the mixture reaches “gel stage” or 220 degrees F at sea level. This should take about 25 to 30 minutes.
If you’re at a higher elevation, the target temperature for gel stage reduces by 1 degree for every 500 feet above sea level. For example, I’m at around 1,000 feet elevation so I finish my jams at around 218 F.
If you don’t have a thermometer, watch the texture. It’ll thicken up nicely after about 25 to 30 minutes of cooking and it should mound on a spoon. The bubbles will change from what looks like boiling water to more of a glossy sheen.
You can also test the texture on a plate that’s been placed in the freezer.
Even without pectin, pineapple jam should thicken up nicely. Once it’s cooled completely, it’ll mound up nicely on a spoon and hold its shape, but still spread easily on toast.
Once the pineapple jam has thickened to your liking, ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Quick Pineapple Jam with Pectin
If you use pectin, the whole process is much faster and the yield is higher. The pineapple flavor won’t be as concentrated, but you’ll spend a lot less time cooking it down.
Place the 3 cups crushed pineapple into a jam pot (but don’t add the sugar yet). Bring the pineapple to a boil and add 1 box (1.75 ounces) powdered pectin such as sure jell. Stir to incorporate and boil for 1 minute.
Now add 3 cups of sugar (note that you need more sugar to allow the pectin to gel), and return the mixture to a boil for 1 minute.
Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
With powdered pectin, you can expect a yield of around 4 to 5 half-pint (8 oz) jars.
(Note that if you choose to make pineapple jam with liquid pectin, you’ll need even more sugar. Liquid pectin requires 4 cups of sugar to 3 cups of pineapple. For liquid pectin, the sugar is added at the beginning and the pectin at the end, which is opposite of the order when using a powdered pectin.)
Low Sugar Pineapple Jam
So putting it out there…pineapples are already pretty darn sweet. If you’re using regular pectin to make pineapple jam, you have to add quite a bit of sugar to get it to gel. Making pineapple jam without pectin requires less sugar (and more cook time), but it’s still quite sweet.
If you’d like to make a low sugar pineapple jam, I’d suggest using low sugar pectin. Pomona’s universal pectin is a good option, and will set without any sugar at all. No sugar pineapple jam is delicious, since the fruit is sweet at the start.
My favorite low sugar pectin is Sure Jell low sugar, which I think sets with a nicer texture than Pomona’s (though I used Pomona’s for years, I’ve now switched).
To use sure jell low sugar, simply follow the same instructions as for regular sure jell, but add less sugar. That means starting with just the fruit in the pot, then adding pectin, and adding sugar at the end.
(The order is important, and if sugar is added first the pectin won’t gel.)
For Pomona’s pectin, the process is quite different and you should follow the instructions on the packet. It has 2 parts and a different order of operations.
Canning Pineapple Jam
Pineapples are naturally acidic, which makes pineapple jam perfect for canning. Canning pineapple jam is optional, and it’s perfectly fine to make a refrigerator or freezer preserve.
That said, I generally choose to can pineapple jam because preservation is my main goal.
Refrigerator jams will last 3-4 weeks (with full sugar, less with low sugar), and freezer jams last about 6 months. Home-canned pineapple jam will keep perfectly well on the pantry shelf for at least 18 months, and it makes lovely gifts.
(If you’re not familiar with water bath canning, I’d suggest reading this beginner’s guide to water bath canning before getting started.)
To can pineapple jam, prepare a water bath canner before you begin making the jam.
Prepare the jam as you otherwise would, and ladle into prepared canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Cap with 2 part canning lids and process the jars for 10 minutes. (Increase the time to 15 minutes if you’re above 6,000 feet in elevation.)
Remove the pineapple jam from the canner with a jar lifter and allow the jars to cool completely on a towel on the counter before checking seals. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
Properly canned and sealed jars of pineapple jam should maintain peak quality on the pantry shelf for 12-18 months.
Ways to Preserve Pineapple
Need a few more ways to preserve pineapple?
- Canning Pineapple
- Pineapple Wine
- Pineapple Fruit Leather
- Freezing Pineapple
- Tepache (Fermented Pineapple Beverage)
- Lacto-Fermented Pineapple Salsa
- Dehydrating Pineapple
Pineapple jam is an easy way to preserve pineapples at home, and it tastes like sunshine on your morning toast.
- 3 cups crushed pineapple (from one 3 lb pineapple)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
Pineapple Jam without Pectin (See Notes for Pectin Version)
- Peel, core, and coarsely chop pineapple. Place pineapple in a food processor and pulse 2-3 times until it's very fine, but not completely pureed. (Alternately, start with canned crushed pineapple.)
- Place pineapple in a jam pot or deep saucepan.
- For every cup of crushed pineapple, add 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar. A medium pineapple yields about 3 cups crushed pineapple and would require 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to prevent scorching. Cook on high for 25 to 30 minutes until the mixture thickens.
- Ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
- If canning, process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
The yield is 3 half-pints (8 oz) jars when using 2 cups sugar and 3 cups pineapple. Yields are higher and cook times shorter with pectin (see notes).
Sure-Jell Pineapple Jam
To make pineapple jam with pectin, add 3 cups of pineapple to a saucepan but don't add sugar yet. Bring the pineapple to a boil over high heat and then add 1 box of powdered pectin (1.75 ounces). Boil 1 minute, then add 3 cups sugar (note that pineapple jam with pectin requires more sugar and will need a 1:1 ratio of crushed pineapple to sugar to gel).
Return to a boil for 1 minute, then ladle into prepared jars.
When using regular pectin, the yield will be 4 to 5 jars (8 oz).
Low Sugar Pineapple Jam
To make a low sugar pineapple jam, simply use Sure-Jell Low Sugar Pectin and reduce the sugar to suit your tastes. This will also work with honey, maple, or agave as sweeteners. Follow the same instructions as are listed above for sure jell pineapple jam.
Easy Jam Recipes
Once you’ve mastered pineapple jam, try your hand at these other tasty homemade preserves: