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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Jams and Jellies > Tips for Making Successful Homemade Jams and Jellies

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Jams and Jellies

Tips for making successful homemade jams and jellies

Carol Ann Burtness

Making jellied products is not difficult, but it is important to follow reliable, tested recipes as well as the following guidelines.

Choose ripe fruit that is free of bruises or mold

Do not reduce the amount of sugar

USDA and the University of Minnesota Extension recommend boiling water canning process for all cooked jam and jelly products to prevent mold growth*

Boiling Water Process: Water boils at 212 degrees F. at sea level. For every 550 feet above sea level, water boils 1 degree lower. To compensate, add 1 minute of processing time for each 1000 feet of additional altitude. The mean elevation in Minnesota is 1,200 feet above sea level. Find your elevation at:

In addition to elevation, jar size matters. Use the chart below to determine the required processing time for jelled products you preserve.

Processing Time in a Boiling Water Canner for Jams and Jellies

Jar size Elevation Processing time
Half or quarter pints 0-1000 feet 5 minutes
Half or quarter pints 1001-2000 feet 6 minutes
Half or quarter pints 2001-3000 feet 7 minutes
Pints 0-1000 feet 10 minutes
Pints 1001-2000 feet 11 minutes
Pints 2001-3000 feet 12 minutes

Store uncooked freezer jams in clean (washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed) jars or plastic freezer containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent loss of quality

Freezing fruit to make jam or jelly later:

Homemade jams and jellies should keep their quality and flavor for up to one year if stored in a cool, dark, dry place. If the jar seal remains unbroken and the product shows no visible signs of spoilage from molds or yeast, the jellied product should be safe to eat

*Some sealing methods recommend turning the closed jars of hot jam or jelly upside down (inverting the jars) for 30 seconds to one hour. The vacuum seal of jars filled using his method tends to be weaker than those produced by the boiling water canning process. A weak seal is likely to fail during storage and allow for mold growth.


Processing Jams & Jellies, Cooperative Extension, The University of Georgia

Complete Guide to Home Canning, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA (Revised 2009)

Harrison, J., Andress, E. Persevering Food: Jams and Jellies. (2013). University of Georgia. The Geography of Minnesota, Persevering Food: Jams and Jellies.

Revised 2016

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