Easy Elderberry Jam Recipe (No Pectin)

Elderberry Jam spread onto a piece of bread

Elderberry is not only good for your health, but it also makes a delicious jam you can eat on a cheese platter, spread onto a breakfast toast, or just eat with a spoon! Try my other homemade jams like plum or apple-plum jam.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Texture. The jam has seeds in it which are responsible for the crunch you get with each spoon.

Flavor. Elderberry tastes like blueberry and black current in a jam, yet it has its own flavor that is hard to describe!

Unique recipe. You won’t find this kind of jam in a store! Yet, elderberry is easily found in the wild and you can even grow it in your backyard.

Easy to make. This recipe is pretty straightforward, doesn’t require pectin, and doesn’t take too much time to complete!

Health Benefits of Elderberry Jam

Elderberries are good for you because they are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. It is said that elderberries can help lessen flu symptoms, relieve stress, and aid in heart health.

By making jam you are decreasing the number of antioxidants which makes elderberry jam less effective in healing, yet, the heating process doesn’t kill all of the good stuff. So, you can scoop a spoonful with peace of mind and enjoy it with a cup of warm tea!

Elderberry Jam in a Small Jar with a Spoon Inside
You can place jams into small jars in order to open them in small batches and this way prolong the shelf life!

Substitutes and Swaps

Lemon Juice – there are plenty of substitutes for lemon juice like apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, lime or grapefruit juice, and some others. Check out this list of lemon juice substitutes for jams!

Sugar – you can use honey or maple syrup but use a thickening agent like cornstarch or pectin if you are swapping sugar as both honey and maple syrup add liquid to the jam. If using honey substitute ¾ cup for every cup of sugar. If using maple syrup use 2/3 cup for every cup of sugar.

Apples – you can skip the apples if you want, but they add to the jam’s flavor and texture. On the other hand, you can swap apples for other fruit you like or have on hand (pear, apricot, peach, etc.). I have not tried this recipe with other fruit and can only guarantee great results by using apples!

How to Make Elderberry Jam

Step 1 – Sterilize the Jars

Place the washed jars into the oven and heat the oven to 350F/175C. Let the jars sit in the hot oven for about 20 minutes. Do this first, so that by the time the jam is ready your jars are ready, too!

Step 2 – Prepare the Fruit

Wash the elderberries, picking out any stems or leaves that got into the bowl. Wash and chop up the apples and discard the stems, seeds, and cores. Cut the apple into small pieces (about 1-inch cubes). Juice the lemon and discard the seeds.

Washing the elderberries in a bowl with water
You can rinse the apples in a bowl with water and strain it
Apples chopped up into small cubes
You can chop your apples smaller or bigger, it doesn’t matter too much as they will soften and be easily broken with a potato masher later on.

Step 3 – Cook the Fruit

Place the elderberries and water into a pot with a thick bottom (to prevent burning), I used a dutch oven, and let them cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Press the berries down with a potato masher to break them up and allow the juices to flow. Add the apples and cook until the apples are soft (about 10-15 minutes). Then add the lemon juice and sugar, stir, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.

Skim the foam off of the jam if it comes up during boiling in order to ensure a clear color and to get rid of extra air bubbles. If the foam doesn’t form because of stirring, it is ok, your jam will not be significantly affected by it if you followed all the other safety instructions well.

TIP: if your jam is too thin you can add cornstarch. Add 2 tbsp of cornstarch and cook the jam for about 5 minutes. If the jam is still too thin, add 1 more tablespoon!

Step 3 – Jar the Jam

FAQ: Do I need to stir jam as it is cooking? If your pot is thin-bottomed you might need to continuously stir the jam, however, in a dutch oven the berries did not stick or burn. I don’t see a need for continuous stirring if you are using a thick-bottomed pot!

Use kitchen gloves for this step to protect your hand from the heat! Take out the jars and their lids from the oven and fill them up with jam leaving ½ cm (¼ of an inch) of empty space at the top. Screw the lids on tightly and place the jars upside down on the counter.

FAQ: Why do jars need to be placed upside down? Placing jars upside down ensures sterilization of the lids and the creation of a vacuum inside the jars which provides a better seal. Leave the jars upside down for about 15 minutes.

The jam will keep unopened in the pantry for about 12 months and once opened for about 1 month in the refrigerator. If you don’t can your jam then it will last for about a month in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer!

Elderberry Jam spread onto a piece of bread on a plate
Elderberry jam tastes great on toast!

Serving Suggestions

You can spread elderberry jam onto toast, add it to a cheese platter, eat it with crepes, pancakes, and even muffins, or just simply eat it with a spoon along with a warm cup of tea. Elderberry jam goes well with plain yogurt, and vanilla ice cream, and is frequently used as a pie filling.

If you find yourself with a lot of apples and plums in the Fall season then this apple plum jam is a must-try!

FAQ

Can You Eat Raw Elderberries?

No, you shouldn’t eat raw elderberries as they can cause diarrhea and nausea if consumed in bigger quantities.

Do You Need to Remove the Seeds for the Jam?

I don’t recommend trying to get rid of the seeds as it is a lot of extra work and the seeds don’t taste bad at all! I actually like the crunch they add to the jam. The seeds are not bitter (in my experience) as some might claim, so go ahead and make that elderberry jam with the seeds in!

Do Elderberries Contain Natural Pectin?

Elderberries are very low in pectin, so you can add some apples and lemon juice that are high in pectin to help thicken the jam. This recipe is made without pectin and that is why it is important to incorporate those ingredients that are going to provide enough natural pectin to create an even and enjoyable texture. If you are, however, considering to rather add pectin to your jam, check out this article that helps you understand the benefits of using pectin.

Is It Necessary to Water Bath Jam?

It is debatable whether or not you should process the jam in a water bath or in a pressure canner. While people have been canning jams and other foods without a water bath or pressure canner for generations, there is a risk of your canned goods developing a certain bacteria that is deadly for human beings. While you can skip processing your jars and not die from harmful bacteria, you are running the risk that one of your jars can be dangerous to you or those in your household. So, just to sleep well at night I would recommend you do a water bath or pressure canner processing of your jams.
However, if you do decide to skip the water bath step, make sure to sterilize your jars. To sterilize the jars in the oven, preheat the oven to 350F/175C with the jars in and let them stay inside for 20 minutes (don’t place lids into the oven as the rubber ring will burn). Another step you can take is to turn the jars upside down right after filling and sealing them to make sure the lids are sterilized as well.
If you do process the jams in a pressure canner or a water bath then you don’t need to sterilize your jars. All you need to do is to wash them in warm soapy water along with the lids to make sure they are clean.

Where Can You Find Elderberries?

Elderberries are widely present in the US and in Europe. You can spot them along riverbanks, in the woods with high humidity, or even in the open fields. Sometimes you can notice that a tree or two is growing in your backyard already!

Elderberry Jam spread onto a piece of bread

Easy Elderberry Jam without Pectin

Natasha
This jam is not found in grocery stores, yet, it is full of vitamins and nutrients. Elderberries are often found in the wild and that is why this jam is really cheap to make if you spot an elderberry tree!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Jarring Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Jam, Side Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings 4 jars
Calories 129 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 heavy-bottomed pot (I used a dutch oven)
  • 1 potato masher
  • 5 medium-sized jars
  • 1 large bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 950 grams (6¼ cups) ripe elderberry
  • cups (323 grams) sugar you can use honey or maple syrup, see post for instructions
  • 200 ml water
  • 580 grams chopped apples slightly unripe
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice fresh

Instructions
 

  • Place the washed jars and their lids (not screwed on) into the oven and heat the oven to 350F/175C. Let the jars sit in the hot oven for about 20 minutes. Do this first, so that by the time the jam is ready your jars are ready, too!
  • Wash the elderberries, picking out any stems or leaves that got into the bowl. Wash and chop up the apples and discard the stems, seeds, and cores. Cut the apple into small pieces (about 1-inch cubes). Juice the lemon and discard the seeds.
  • Place the elderberries and water into a pot with a thick bottom (to prevent burning), I used a dutch oven, and let them cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Press the berries down with a potato masher to break them up and allow the juices to flow. Add the apples and cook until the apples are soft (about 10-15 minutes). Then add the lemon juice and sugar, stir, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
  • Skim the foam off of the jam if it comes up during boiling in order to ensure a clear color and to get rid of extra air bubbles. If the foam doesn’t form because of stirring, it is ok, your jam will not be significantly affected by it if you followed all the other safety instructions well.
  • Use kitchen gloves for this step to protect your hand from the heat! Take out the jars and their lids from the oven and fill them up with jam leaving ½ cm (¼ of an inch) of empty space at the top. Screw the lids on tightly and place the jars upside down on the counter.
  • The jam will keep unopened in the pantry for about 12 months and once opened for about 1 month in the refrigerator. If you don’t can your jam then it will last for about a month in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer!

Notes

TIP: if your jam is too thin you can add cornstarch. Add 2 tbsp of cornstarch and cook the jam for about 5 minutes. If the jam is still too thin, add 1 more tablespoon!
FAQ: Do I need to stir jam as it is cooking? If your pot is thin-bottomed you might need to continuously stir the jam, however, in a dutch oven the berries did not stick or burn. I don’t see a need for continuous stirring if you are using a thick-bottomed pot!
FAQ: Why do jars need to be placed upside down? Placing jars upside down ensures sterilization of the lids and the creation of a vacuum inside the jars which provides a better seal. Leave the jars upside down for about 15 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.2jarCalories: 129kcalCarbohydrates: 33.9gProtein: 0.5gFat: 0.4gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 4.9gSugar: 22.9gCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Easy Elderberry Jam, Elderberry and Apple Jam, Elderberry Jam No Pectin
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What’s Next?

Did you like this elderberry jam recipe? You might also like my collection of other elderberry recipes!

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