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.
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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 Simple Mom. 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.

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Comments

  1. That sounds yummy! I’ll definitely have to give this a go – I love homemade jam but can never find the time to make it. Thanks!
    .-= Cook Clean Craft’s last blog: Kids Clothes Week – Day 4, 5 and 6 =-.

  2. What a great, great idea! Perfect for in season fruits. Can’t wait to try.

  3. Emily @ The Pilot's Wife says:

    This sounds so easy and delicious, Aimee! Perfect for someone who is intimidated by the canning process, but loves homemade jam! Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Emily @ The Pilot’s Wife’s last blog: Sopapilla Cheesecake =-.

  4. CararieK says:

    I’m a little disappointed to see a recipe that uses plastic wrap and a microwave. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work on the stove too…I usually have a bit of extra jam that’s leftover from a large canning recipe; too little usually to put into a jar in a canning bath so I keep it in the fridge and us it first. And by the way, using honey instead of sugar greatly enhances the nutrition without loosing flavor. I get my recipes from the Pomona Pectin box. 2 1/1 cups fruit to 2 cups sugar sounds like candy to me!

    • Thanks for your comment, Cararie. You could definitely use the stovetop if you prefer.  However, I wanted to show people the microwave method as an alternative to standing over a hot pan in the summer heat. The microwave conveniently reduces the jam rapidly, with no chance of scorching if you get called away from the stove. Either way, you get delicious jam!

      Regarding the honey versus sugar, I personally dislike the taste of honey in my jam as I find it is too overpowering for delicate fruit such as strawberries, and the jam ends up tasting of, well, honey instead of fruit! I do understand your qualms over such a large amount of sugar, though, and you are quite right, honey makes an excellent substitute.  

      You could also use a raw sugar like turbinado or demerara if you wanted.

      Since this is a condiment, and not a dessert, and used sparingly rather than consumed by the bowlful, I am willing to use the sugar and get the desired result.

      • CarrieK says:

        I, too, found honey overpowered my fruit until I used less honey. I gave up my microwave when it died a few years back. I found out it actually alters the content of your food. I think that’s way they say don’t microwave breast milk or formula. Anyway, thanks for the quick recipe (it’s very inspiring) and extra thanks for the article you posted today on food sustainability!Wow! I forwarded it to a lot of people.

    • Not everyone has a stove. I live in a country (Japan) where the stove, as you think of it, is not a huge part of a kitchen. My apartment came with no appliances at all (most apartments and houses don’t unless you have it specially designed). I had to buy everything separate. I still don’t have a stove so I find this recipe very helpful, ingenious, and great for my situation.

  5. Oh! I’m ready! Yum! I’ve been feeling inspired by Katie’s freezer jam post, but I think yours seems a little less scary (I’ve never made jam before). I have two questions:
    1. Can I substitute the rhubarb for more strawberries? (Rhubarb is ridiculously expensive at the grocery store).
    2. I don’t have a potato masher, is there something else I can use that will give a similar consistency?

  6. What an interesting idea, I’ve never heard of it before. That could really save you some time and let you make batches when you only have small amounts of fruit on hand. Thanks for the tip, Aimee!

  7. This is fantastic, especially since I just found a new raspberry bush growing in my backyard, just enough fruit [most-likely] for some microwave jam! Thanks Aimée!
    M.

  8. What a great idea! I would totally make this today but…well…I don’t have a microwave. How antiquated is that? My mom does though, so I think I should head over to her place and make a few batches.
    .-= Jan (Family Bites)’s last blog: Meal Planning Monday =-.

  9. I am ready to make jam! And I’m definitely ready for Jam Swap ’10!
    .-= Melissa’s last blog: Lemon-Lime Curd =-.

  10. beth Farnham says:

    I love this site and have shared it with many friends. I look forward to all the tips and hints but am definitely disappointed in this one. I was excited at the idea of quick jam and couldn’t wait to learn how. BUT I would not use a microwave for anything except sanitizing sponges or storing muffins, never use plastic wrap and would greatly reduce the sugar or replace it with honey. But thanks for the idea! I think I’ll try it on my stovetop!

    • Hi Beth,
      Yes, you could definitely use the stovetop if you prefer; however, I wanted to show people the microwave method as an alternative to standing over a hot pan in the summer heat. The microwave reduces the jam so fast, with no chance of scorching if you get called away from the stove. Either way, you get delicious jam!

      Regarding the honey versus sugar, I personally dislike the taste of honey in my jam as I find it is too overpowering for delicate fruit such as strawberries, and the jam ends up tasting of, well, honey instead of fruit! I do understand your qualms over such a large amount of sugar, though, and you are quite right, honey makes an excellent substitute.

      Also, since this is a condiment, and not a dessert, and used sparingly rather than consumed by the bowlful, I am willing to use the sugar required if it gives me my desired result.

      Thank you for your comment, for reading and passing Simple Bites along to friends!

  11. What a terrific and simple idea! :-) I agree w/ Emily – the whole jam process is a little intimidating, but this … this it totally do-able. Thank you!

    I’m really looking forward to the canning series – learning how to do that is on my “bucket list” believe it or not ;-)

    Hope you’re having a great week so far!
    .-= Kara Fleck’s last blog: Homemade Baby Food 101 For the Modern Mom – Part I =-.

  12. Elaine from Cookware Help says:

    This recipe is very inspiring and useful for those who find canning scary. That strawberry-rhubarb combo is on my list of cravings right now, and I haven’t been able to satisfy it yet. I’ve never made strawberry rhubarb jam, but I made strawberry rhubarb pie last year. I also have been thinking about canning jams. Now our freezer is holding the rhubarb in readiness for our trip to pick strawberries soon. I’m gonna be using this recipe to start off. Thanks!

  13. Yay for microjam! I’ve been doing this for years. Another beauty of this process is small-batch testing for novel combinations. Peach & banana jam? Does it work? Try it this way first and find out… :-)
    While this is a great way to make a pot of jam for immediate use, there’s also nothing to stop you processing as normal and keeping/giving away. I make small batches to have on hand for emergency gift use.

  14. I’ve been making small batch microwave jam for a few years now, but I go one step further and actually can it using a hot water bath and sterilized jars. I’ve found doing little batches on the weekend to be easier to fit into my schedule than setting aside a days on end. Great article as always Aimee.
    .-= Jennie’s last blog: a feel good cake =-.

  15. Christine S says:

    This looks awesome! I would love to make some jams but not ready to make the financial commitment.
    I do have an “uninformed” question, since I have never canned. This is stored in jars. Can I reuse jars from other items, like sauces, etc.? Our recycling recently stopped collecting jars (probably due to cuts and such) and I have so many I’d like to repurpose. If they are clean, will this work?
    Thanks!

  16. This sounds like a great idea :D I never thought that you could cook jam in the microwaves, but now I see I was wrong. It’s a pity that rhubarb is impossible to find here because I have some strawberries lying in the fridge.
    .-= Ksenia’s last blog: The end =-.

  17. How wonderful! I have some grape vines in my backyard so it looks like I’ll have a new way to use those grapes this fall!
    .-= Tina’s last blog: The Razor E200 Electric Scooters Are Perfect For Pre-Teens =-.

  18. This is so inspiring! Strawberry picking season is almost here, and I can’t wait to try this recipe! We love homemade jam, but I have never tried making it myself.
    .-= Julia’s last blog: Wordless Wednesday: Backyard Fun Without a Swing Set =-.

  19. I tried this and presented it for workshop on strawberries at our local farm stand. I didn’t have fresh rhubarb, but used frozen and it turned out just fine. Very tart from the rhubarb, but that is why I like it. I will definitely be making more, and experimenting with other flavors. Thanks for posting this one. Have a great day.

  20. Just finished making sour cherry jam the old fashioned way!when I saw this micro wave method I was excited! I will try it! I think I will still process it though because we don’t use it up real fast.

  21. Greetings!
    I have a quick question but an important one. What is the pectin for? What does it do to the jam? Can I leave it out?

  22. Christine Kieffer says:

    Hi – Can you use other fruits to make this, and if so, does the sugar and pectin amounts differ? Great recipe! Thanks.

  23. great recipe says:

    really great recipe simple and very non demanding. but somehow i will never understand the mentality that causes so many to tout a glory in changing diapers???and proudly pushed out while making jam?? somehow this really puts a damper on the whole excitement tjing of accomplishment. making jam is one thing but having to know that nasty diapers were involved in the preparation…….yuck. fun fact of some merit. sinus infections are highly common with many new and experienced mothers who tend to diapers and then return to “other” duties without proper sanitation. nose picking after baby diaper handling is a very high risk and leads to sinus infections. honestly i could care less about the whole diaper changing thing and it didnt belong in an article about making jam…..

  24. This sounds like a great way to make some jam. I had a recipe at one time but lost it, it used jello to make the jam and it was easy and so good. This one may be the same, easy and good.

  25. Debra Caldwell says:

    I know nothing about canning, so I’ve never canned before. However, I think I could make Micro-Mini Jam. I just wish there were more recipes for the Micro-Mini Jam.

  26. Can other berries be subbed for strawberries? I have a bunch of blueberries about to go bad & wanted to make jam…this sounds like my kind of recipe!

  27. I made this last night on the stove and it took all of 4 minutes of boiling and it was done. Super easy and super fast and the results were delicious.

    I am thinking of trying to make strawberry banana jam. Would a cup and half of crushed berries to half a cup of banana work?

  28. Aimee, I’m new to your website, yet thankful. I found a recipe of yours Strawberry-Rhubarb honey Jam and it calls for liquid pectin can I use Sure-Jel in its place also can frozen strawberries in place of chopped? I will try the micro mini as I always have leftover fruit. You are a genius! conny

  29. What is the purpose of the rhubarb?

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