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Refrigerator Jam

Refrigerator Jam
Leslie Jonath and Ethel Brennan

Prep 35 mins
Cook 1 hr 25 mins
Total 2 hrs


  • candy thermometer and 2 pint or 4 half-pint jars


  • 2 1/2 pounds mixed berries, such as raspberries, boysenberries, and/or blackberries (about 7 cups, but go by weight as types of berries vary in cup amount)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar or less to taste if you’re not a sweet tooth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • Thoroughly wash two pint or four half-pint canning jars and their lids and screw bands. Place the jars, lids, and screw bands in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 15 minutes to sterilize them. Turn off the heat and leave the jars, lids, and bands in the hot water until ready to use. Place a small plate in the freezer for testing the jam.
  • Pick through the berries, discarding any soft or rotten ones. Gently rinse the berries and place them in a large, heavy nonreactive saucepan. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice. Reduce the heat and simmer the berry mixture, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the jam thickens to a viscous consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. As the jam cooks, use a large spoon to skim any foam from the surface. After the jam has cooked for an hour, test it to see if the jam has reached the jell point by removing the plate from the freezer, placing 1 teaspoon jam on the plate, and tipping the plate slightly. If the jam doesn’t spread, it’s ready. You can also test the jam for readiness with a candy thermometer, which should register 220ºF (104ºC) when the jam reaches the jell point. [Editor's Note: "Jell" point or "gel" point? We rather have an affinity for "jell," thinking perhaps it's an old-fashioned term for the proper consistency. As such, we rather like to use it, even though it's not in common parlance.]
  • Lift the jars, lids, and screw bands from the water, using tongs if the water is still hot, and thoroughly dry them. Carefully ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2-inch space between the jam and the top of the jar. Wipe each jar rim clean with a damp towel, then top with a lid and seal tightly with a screw band. Let the jars cool overnight at room temperature. Label the jars with the recipe name and date. You can store them in the refrigerator, unopened, for up to 3 months. Once opened, use within a week or so.