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Tips for Making Refrigerator Jam

By Leah Colins Published

Making jam couldn’t be easier, but our tips will ensure your success.

Few things can preserve the vibrancy of peak-season fruit like turning it into jam. And while you can make the jam shelf-stable for at least a year by boiling the filled jars (a process known as canning), that’s just one option. You can also make so-called refrigerator jam that you simply store in the refrigerator once it’s cooled; it will last a couple of months. Making jam couldn’t be easier, but our tips will ensure your success.

Use Ripe—Not Overripe—Fruit

Overripened fruit contains less pectin, which could prevent a jam from fully setting.

Choose the Right Pot

The size and shape of the pot affect the jam’s rate of evaporation; an underevaporated jam will be watery and won’t set, while an overreduced jam will have a thick, gluey texture. We like to use a 7-quart Dutch oven for larger batches because its sides are shorter than those of a tall stockpot and better encourage evaporation. For most small batches, we prefer to use a 4-quart saucepan because the wide bottom of the Dutch oven causes these jams to overreduce quickly. We use a 12-inch nonstick skillet for a few simple jams and chutneys; the nonstick surface prevents the jam from sticking and scorching as it reduces and thickens.

Manage the Boil

In our jam recipes, we often call for bringing the ingredients to a boil over high heat and then maintaining that boil for up to 15 minutes. Once the jam mixture starts to boil, you’ll see a layer of foam begin to build up and bubble on the surface. Don’t be tempted to lower the heat at this point; the jam needs to rise above the boiling point of water, and it will take a lot longer to reach that point when cooking at a simmer. Instead, just stir or whisk the jam for a few minutes until the foam dissipates.

Temp the Jam

When making jam without commercial pectin, we like to monitor the jam’s temperature as it cooks. The set point for jam is roughly 8 degrees above the boiling point of water, but as a double check, we strongly suggest removing the pot from the heat when the jam is 2 to 3 degrees below the target temperature and performing the frozen plate test. The temperature inside the pot can vary by up to 10 degrees; to get an accurate reading, whisk the jam thoroughly and move the thermometer back and forth as you take the temperature.

Handle the Pectin Properly

We don’t often use commercial pectin in jam; the fruit itself often has sufficient stores, or we add pectin-rich apple to the mix. But when we do, we use Sure‑Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes, which we find works well in any jam recipe. When adding the pectin to the pot, we like to mix it with a small amount of sugar to help it disperse evenly. After whisking in the pectin, it’s important to return the mixture to a boil and let the pectin dissolve. Only then can you whisk in the remaining sugar and boil the jam 1 to 2 minutes longer to activate the pectin and dissolve the sugar.

Recipe Classic Raspberry Jam

Homemade raspberry jam that is anything but a disappointment.

Recipe Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

Refrigerator jams generally make a small batch, which means you don’t need to invest in bushels of fruit and there’s no need for canning equipment to sterilize the jars for long-term storage.

Recipe Peach-Bourbon Jam

Peaches and bourbon are a classic pairing, but when developing this jam recipe, we found we couldn’t taste just a couple of tablespoons of bourbon when we added it toward the end of cooking (when most jam recipes involving alcohol call for adding it).

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.