The Lost Art of Making Jam

Legacy of Food:

Growing up, I watched my mother and both grandmothers prepare food for a long shelf life. My family always had a large garden and canning and freezing vegetables from our harvest was a way of life. My mother made the most delicious homemade jams. We were never short of strawberry jam, but over the years other flavors have sneaked their way into her pantry. 

            Now that I have my own home, I’ve realized the importance of collecting family recipes; those meals my mother made that take me home again and give me comfort. When the time came to make jam, I wanted to learn the mysteries of jam making, myself. After Mom got over her initial shock, she invited me over for a jam-making session. I thought I’d share what I learned in my mother’s kitchen. Here are the steps to making my mother’s Blackberry jam.

Blackberry Jam:

Yields almost 4 quarts.

What you will Need:

  • 5 cups of Blackberries
  • Strainer and Pestle
  • Vinegar and Water
  •  1 box of Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin
  • 7 cups of Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Butter
  • Mason jars and sealing lids


  1. Wash your berries thoroughly. We use a mixture of white vinegar and water to clean the berries.
  2. Remove the blackberry seeds. Mom used a vintage strainer and pestle to get rid of the seeds. This took a little time. While pushing with the pestle, Mom explained we were using the same tools my grandmother used in bygone days to make her own jam. 
  3. Use the Sure-Jell and follow the directions exactly on the box. It is important not to deviate, I have good authority from my mother who’s made countless jars of jam that have turned out perfectly. 
  4. Sterilize the mason jars and place the lids and rings in a hot bath. 
  5. Place blackberry mixture, pectin and about a half teaspoon of butter (a little butter cuts down on foaming) in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil, while stirring constantly. 
  6. Once boiling, add the sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute while stirring constantly to keep from scorching. 
  7. After one minute, remove foam from top of jam by skimming it off with a metal spoon. 
  8. Ladle mixture into your sterilized jars. Wipe off the excess jam from the jar rim, so the jars will seal properly.
  9. Remove the lids and rings from the hot water bath and screw onto the jam jar.
  10. Place the hot jars of jam upside down on a tea towel for a couple of minutes. (There are other ways of sealing your jars such as using a canner, but this is the easiest) Then turn the jars right-side up and make sure the lids are sealed. Allow the jars to cool.


The lids in a hot bath.


My first attempt at making jam turned out beautifully. I encourage you to try it as well, and if you don’t like blackberry, you can substitute any berry in its place. For me, it was more than the end product of delicious jars of jam to enjoy, I gave my mother the opportunity to pass down the knowledge that was instilled in her, by her own mother. I will never regret spending these precious moments with Mom and learning what is becoming a lost art of making homemade jam.

Kim Williams is a contributing writer at The Hallelujah House. She is a full- time teacher in the Tidewater area and desires to learn the old ways of food preservation. You can read her full bio in the "The Team" tab above. 


September 2020

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