This one goes out to all of you who really want to make jam, but just lack the time, energy, counter space, or mental fortitude for a large canning project.
Microwave jam is ready in under 20 minutes and makes one perfect little jar of jammy goodness. Here's everything you need to know.
When I first stumbled upon Elise's recipes for Microwave Strawberry Jam and Microwave Fig Jam, I thought, "No way." No way that making jam could be that easy. No way that it could be as good as "real" jam.
Consider me a convert. I have now tried this microwave method with blueberries, peaches, and strawberries, and the results have been nothing short of jam heaven.
This jam is just as sweet and spoonable as any other homemade or store-bought jam. You can spread it on toast, swirl it into ice cream, or just eat it straight from the jar. No judgment.
This jam is ideal for whenever you have a few fruits going soft on the counter or if you scored an extra pint of berries at the farmers market. Two to three cups of chopped fruit or berries will give you about a cup of jam.
Since we're not actually canning this jam - it goes straight into the fridge - you can use any kind of sugar you prefer. Regular sugar, honey, brown sugar, agave, and maple syrup all work well. Between 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup is usually enough to sweeten the fruit and give it a good jammy texture.
The microwave is really a perfect tool for making a small batch of jam like this. It cooks down a few cups of fruit very quickly and efficiently, making a concentrated jam in about 15 minutes of cook time.
The jam will bubble up quite a bit as it cooks and nearly quadruple in volume. Be sure to use a microwave-safe bowl with at least an 8-cup capacity and stir the jam every few minutes. Also, use oven mitts when removing the bowl from the microwave since it will become quite hot.
The only truly tricky moment comes in judging when the jam is done. In my experience, 15 minutes of total cooking time is a good average for most fruits. However, the jam will still look a bit syrupy and un-jammy at this point, so the temptation is always to cook it a little longer.
My advice is to resist that temptation. The jam is ready when the syrup coats the back of the spatula and falls in big, heavy drips back into the bowl. It will set more firmly as it cools, and cooking it longer can cause the sugar to crystallize and harden.
Don't stress yourself out about it if you're not sure - just let it cool and see how thick it becomes. If it's still seems too loose, just stick it back in the microwave and give it another round of cooking.
Stash this jam in the fridge or the freezer. It will keep for several weeks in the fridge, or for about three months in the freezer.
Tips for Success!
Chunky vs. smooth jam: Change up the texture of your jam just by chopping your fruit into larger or smaller pieces. For a smoother jam, you can also puree it before cooking, or mash the cooked fruit against the side of the bowl as you stir.
Use an 8-cup capacity, microwave-safe bowl: The jam will bubble up quite a bit and quadruple in size as it cooks, so be sure to use a large bowl. Use oven mitts when moving the bowl from the microwave.
Stop cooking when the jam is concentrated, but still syrupy: The jam will still look slightly loose when done, but it will firm up as it cools. Resist the temptation to cook it for longer.
More Jams to Love Straight From the Microwave!
How to Make Jam in the Microwave
- 2 to 3 cups berries or diced fruit
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, honey, or other sweetener
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
Prepare the fruit:
Remove all seeds, cores, pits, or other non-edible parts. Peels can be left or removed. Cut larger fruits like peaches and strawberries into small pieces. Berries can be left whole.
Macerate the fruit and sugar:
Toss the prepared fruit with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar or other sweetener and 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (to taste) in an 8-cup glass measuring cup or microwave-safe mixing bowl. If you're using berries, lightly mash them to release their juices. Let the fruit macerate for at least a half an hour, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit looks syrupy.
Microwave for 10 minutes, stirring halfway:
Microwave the fruit, uncovered, at full power for 5 minutes. The fruit juices will bubble up as the fruit cooks, quadrupling in volume. Carefully remove the bowl using oven mitts (the glass will be hot), and stir the fruit. It will look quite loose and liquidy at this point. Return to the microwave and cook another 5 minutes.
Stir the fruit again:
Remove the fruit from the microwave with oven mitts and stir it again.The jam will probably still look fairly syrupy at this point. Mash the fruit against the sides of the bowl if you'd like a smoother texture, or leave it as is for a chunkier texture.
Continue to microwave in 2 to 3 minute intervals:
Stir the jam between each interval and continue cooking until the liquid concentrates to a sticky syrup that coats the back of the spatula and falls in heavy drips back into the bowl. Don't worry if the jam still seems a little loose at this point; it will set more firmly as it cools. Total cooking time is usually around 15 minutes for most fruits.
If you're unsure whether the jam ready, it's best to err on the side of caution. Over-cooking can cause the jam to crystallize and harden. If the jam still seems loose after it cools, return it to the measuring cup and cook it a few more minutes.
Cool and store the jam:
Transfer the jam to a canning jar or other storage container. Let it cool, uncovered, on the counter. Once cool, cover and store in the refrigerator for several weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.