How to Make Homemade Jam in 30 Minutes (with no special equipment)

What would you say if I told you that it was possible to make a small batch of homemade jam today? I imagine your schedule is already jam-packed (pardon the pun, couldn’t resist), as is mine, but I’ve discovered a new way to make jam that is quick, easy and totally doable for the busy mom, career girl or both.

OK, you’ve heard about freezer jam, but what about microwave jam? In her book, 250 Home Preserving Favorites (Robert Rose, March 2010), jam expert Yvonne Tremblay created a line of homemade jams that she called ‘Micro-Mini Jams‘: very small batches of jam, cooked in the microwave and requiring no special canning equipment.

What a fantastic concept! I’ve used the microwave to reduce liquids for sauces and such, but never thought to whip up a batch of jam. It makes perfect sense though, because the batch of jam is so small, there is no need for sterilizing or processing. Simply jar the jam and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks -if it lasts that long.

5 Reasons to Make Micro-Mini Jam

  1. You can enjoy homemade jam without investing in the gear traditional jam-making requires that takes up valuable cupboard space. Micro-Mini jams can be made with tools you most likely already have.
  2. It is the perfect springboard into jam-making for the novice. If something goes wrong, you haven’t wasted many ingredients. Rest assured, though, all will go well.
  3. You don’t eat a lot of jam and just want a jar or two for the occasional Sunday brunch.
  4. The backyard plum tree has only yielded five Damsons, yet you are determined to make jam; OR you have a small amount of overripe fruit lying around, begging to be made into jam.
  5. Thirty minutes, or approximately the length of one episode of Toopy and Binoo, is all the time required to make one batch from start to finish.

Convinced? Let’s get started.

Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Micro-Mini Jam

Makes about two 8-ounce (250 ml) jars
You can use fresh or frozen strawberries for this jam.  Crush them with a potato masher in a shallow dish, then measure 1 cup.  If using frozen berries, let them thaw before crushing.

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb in ½-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup crushed strawberries (about 2 cups sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp powdered pectin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  1. In a 16-cup microwave-safe bowl, combine rhubarb and water. (I use a 10-cup bowl; it worked, but very nearly overflowed.) Partially cover bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a gap for some of the steam to escape. Microwave on High for 2 minutes or until hot.  Remove and discard plastic.  Drain off any liquid or blot with a paper towel.
  2. Stir in strawberries and lemon juice. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Stir in sugar until dissolved.
  3. Microwave, uncovered, on High for 2 minutes; stir and scrape down sides of bowl.  Microwave on High again for 2 minutes; stir and scrape down sides of bowl.  Repeat in 1-minute intervals for another 2 to 4 minutes, or until jam froths up and thickens; stir and scrape down sides each time.
  4. Test for setting point (see details below).  Microwave in additional 1-minute intervals as needed.
  5. Remove from microwave.  Stir slowly until foam subsides; skim off any remaining foam.  Stir slowly for 2 to 3 minutes to prevent floating fruit.
  6. Ladle into clean jars; wipe rims.  Apply metal lids and rings, or use plastic lids; tighten until snug.  Transfer to a towel-lined surface and let rest at room temperature until set.  Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

How to test for jam setting point

There are several ways to test if your jam is reduced enough and will cool into a firm consistency. I use the simple wrinkle or ‘plate method’:
Place about 2 tsp of jam on a chilled small plate and place it in the freezer for a minute or two, until cooled to room temperature.  A skin will form on top.  If you gently push it with your finger or a fork, it will wrinkle if the mixture is done.

I usually keep two or three plates chilled and ready to rock.

Tips for Success with Micro-Mini Jams

I know you will be pleasantly surprised at how simple this homemade jam is. Unlike having a cauldron of molten jam bubbling on the stove, I felt I could walk away from this jam if I needed to – and sure enough I did!

This batch was stirred up on one particularly busy afternoon and in the 30 minutes it took, I also baked a cake, supervised two little ones, and (ahem) changed not just one, but two, messy diapers.

The jam was still a complete success.

There are always a few tips that help ensure the best results; here are several that are outlined by Yvonne in her book.

  • Use a 1200-watt microwave with a turntable.
  • If wattage is higher, cook on 70% power, or if wattage is lower, cook for longer.
  • Do not double the batch.
  • Use caution when moving the bowl for stirring as the steam will be very hot.
  • Since they are heat-resistant, use a silicone spatula for scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • There is no need to leave headspace at the top of the jar, as jam will be neither precessed or frozen.

Dare I say it? This non-sterilized, non-processed jam can actually be a fun activity to do with your kids! With proper supervision, kids can assist with prepping the fruit and (carefully) stirring the jam. With the microwave producing quick results, jam-making can hold the young one’s attention.

Be sure to have a loaf of bread on hand for the taste test.

Editor’s Note: If you are more interested in making jam in large quantities, here’s my Introduction to Making Jam on The Art of Simple. Also, look for a special canning series coming soon on Simple Bites!

Ready to make jam?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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