How to Make Preserves 

To know how to make preserves first one must understand what preserves are. Preserves are actually known by a wide range of names like jellies, marmalades, jams, conserves and fruit butters.

They are fruits or pieces of fruit cooked with sugar or cooked in heavy sugar syrup until tender and plump. Sugar acts as a preserving agent in these products like strawberry preserves. To ensure a long storage life sugar is added in the proportion of about ¾ pound to 1 pound of sugar to 1 pound of fruit.

When you learn how to make preserves you will learn that translucent jellies are made from the juices squeezed from the fruit. Clear marmalades are made also with fruit juice but from one or several kinds of citrus fruit. The sugar keeps these from spoiling and also helps them to set.

How to Make PreservesHow to Make Preserves

Jams are made with thick fruit purees; thick but not firm like jelly. Marmalades are made from one or several kinds of citrus fruits. Conserves can be made with fresh or dried fruits and nuts. Fruit butters are cooked down until they form delicious thick purees like my favorite apple butter.

Although many call all of these preserves (because they are in some way “preserved” fruit), I have always singled out the ones with large chunks of one kind of fruit in them as “preserves”; these actually keep the fruit as close to fresh as possible and still can be canned.

The fruit will remain chunky until the syrup becomes very thick and transparent. In learning how to make preserves you will find that only the fruits which retain their color and shape are suitable for making preserves, but there are many.

It is very important when learning how to make preserves just what pectin is. This gum like substance comes from flesh, skins and seeds of most fruits and is the fundamental jelling agent. Commercial brands are available for purchase when recipes call for additional pectin. Cooked down jams and jellies rely on the natural pectin from the fruits that contain a lot of it; others require additional pectin added.

When cooking the fruit and sugar mixtures overheat, careful attention is required and constant stirring to prevent the mixture from scorching. When preserves are cooked and thick, pack the hot mixture into hot sterilized jars. Run a clean rag around the rim of the jars to make sure they are clean and seal at once. Cool jars and store in a cool dry dark place.

How to Make Preserves


Blackberry Jam RecipeBlackberry Jam Recipe
  • 2 ½ Pounds blackberries
  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place berries in layers with the sugar; let stand overnight.

Run berries through a juicer to remove the seeds reserve all juices; discard seeds.

Combine juice and reserved sugar juice in a large saucepan; add lemon juice.

Bring mixture to a boil; skim off top.

NOTE: I recently used wild blackberries and they were bitter.  At this point, I adjusted the sweetness by adding more sugar.

NOTE: I started with about 5 pounds of wild blackberries. I lost a lot by juicing to remove all those little seeds. I ended with 2 ½ pints of jam.

Cook mixture almost to the “jelly” stage. (The “jelly” stage makes it too thick when cold).

Pour into hot sterilized jars and place on lids: process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Remove jars and cool to room temperature.


How to Make PreservesHow to Make Preserves

One of my favorite old time preserves is Mom’s and Dad’s tomato preserves recipe. I have fond memories of this delicacy served with homemade fried mush on cold winter days.

When I learned how to make preserves tomatoes preserve was one of my first.

  • Select small pear shaped slightly under ripe red tomatoes.

  • Wash the tomatoes and drain thoroughly; blanch, peel and slice.

  • Allow ¾ to 1 pound of sugar per pound of tomatoes.

  • Weigh the fruit and weigh the sugar; add some thinly sliced lemons, a few whole cloves, 1 to 2 sticks of cinnamon or small pieces of ginger root if desired.

  • Arrange tomatoes and sugar in layers in a heavy kettle.

  • Heat very slowly to a boil, turn off heat and let stand overnight.

  • The next day bring to a boil stirring carefully to prevent scorching.

  • Boil until the syrup is thick stirring frequently but carefully.

  • Pack the preserves into hot sterilized jars; pour syrup over the tomatoes.
  • Wipe the edges of the jars clean and seal immediately; cool and store.


Tomato Marmalade RecipeTomato Marmalade Recipe
  • 3 Pounds ripe red tomatoes
  • 2 ½ Cups sugar
  • ¼ Cup lemon juice
  • 1 Cup lemon peel.
  • ½ Cup crystallized ginger

Blanch tomatoes and peel; cut each in half and remove seeds.

Chop tomatoes in small pieces; place in a large pot (Use non reactive; no aluminum).

Sprinkle with sugar; let stand for 1 hour.

Remove white from lemon peel; cut only yellow part into thin strips.

Add lemon juice, peel and ginger to pot of tomatoes; bring to a boil over high stirring constantly.

LOWER heat and simmer for about 1 hour until thickened; stirring frequently.

NOTE: Do one jar at a time.

Ladle into hot sterilized pint jar; seal tightly with hot lids and rings.


How to make preserves the easy way using ground cherries.

  • 5 Cups ground cherries, drain juice off
  • 10 Cups sugar
  • Combine ground cherries and sugar; slowly bring to boil and cook 5 minutes.
  • Pack hot fruit mixture into hot sterilized pint jars.
  • Seal immediately.


Many fig recipes can be made by using this delicious fig preserves recipe.

  • 2 Quarts firm figs
  • 4 Pounds sugar
  • 1 ½ Cups water
  • 2 Sliced lemons
  • 1 Ounce stick cinnamon
  • 24 Cloves

Wash fruit carefully in colander; tie cinnamon and cloves in a bag.

Bring sugar and water to a boil.

Add lemons, figs and spice bag.

Boil until figs are tender and clear about 1 hour.

Lift fruit carefully into hot sterilized pint jars and cover with hot juice.

Adjust caps and seal while hot.


This is how to make preserves for giving at Christmas time.

  • 1 Pound dried apricots
  • 2 Cans (20 ounces each) crushed pineapple
  • 2 Pounds fresh washed and stemmed cranberries
  • 10 Cups sugar
  • 2 Bottles liquid pectin

Soak apricots overnight; drain and chop.

Combine apricots,cranberries and pineapple in a large heavy kettle.

Heat mixture to a simmer; stir in sugar and bring to a full boil and boil for 1 minute.

Stir in pectin and remove from heat; skim foam.

Spoon into hot sterilized pint jars; seal immediately and cool.

Store in a cool, dry place. Makes 9 pints.


Learn how to make preserves with a little different twist by adding black walnuts.

  • 3 Pints fresh hulled strawberries
  • 3 Cups sugar
  • ½ Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoon kirsch
  • ¾ Cup black walnut pieces

Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and kirsch in a large heavy saucepan.

Cook over low heat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves; increase heat and boil 30 minutes stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in walnuts; pour immediately into hot sterilized ½ pint jars leaving ½ inch headspace.

Adjust lids and seal jars and process in boiling bath 10 minutes; makes 8 jars.


  • Weigh grapes with stems; use ¾ pound sugar for each pound of grapes.
  • Wash and stem grapes and place in non aluminum kettle; mash grapes to release juice.
  • Cook until all skins are broken mashing often; pour into jelly bag and allow it to drain overnight.
  • Boil juice for ½ hour skimming frequently; after skimming all foam add sugar and continue cooking.
  • As soon as sugar is completely dissolved pour into jelly glasses.
  • When cool and well set top with a film of paraffin; cover and store in a cool place.


  • Blue or greengage plums
  • 1 Pound sugar for each pound plums

Wash plums in cold water and remove stems; split each plum in half and discard pits.

Weigh halves and place in heavy kettle; add just enough water to cover bottom.

Turn heat on low; add sugar and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat to medium and cook; stir frequently and skim off foam as it forms.

Check for jelly by cooling a little in a saucer.

Fill jelly jars; when cooled top with melted paraffin.

Cover and store in cool place.


  • 2 Quarts peaches
  • ½ Cup water
  • 6 Cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

Cook peaches and water for 10 minutes; add sugar and cook 45 minutes.

About 20 minutes before done add vanilla; pour in jelly jars and seal with paraffin.


  • 2 ½ to 3 Pounds pears
  • 7 ½ Cups sugar

Peel, core and stem pears; cut into 1 inch chunks.

Place pears and sugar in porcelain or stainless steel kettle.

Place on high heat and cook stirring constantly until jam begins to thicken.

Lower heat and cook until desired consistency when a little is cooled in saucer.

Fill sterilized jelly jars; when cooled top with melted paraffin.

Cover and store in cool place.


Spicy Peach Jam RecipeSpicy Peach Jam Recipe
  • 2 ½ to 3 Pounds peaches skinned and pitted
  • 7 to 71/2 Cups sugar
  • 3 Teaspoons ground allspice

Cut peach halves into 1 inch chunks and place in porcelain kettle.

Cook peaches with sugar and allspice over high heat stirring constantly until it starts to thicken.

Lower heat and stir until desired consistency when a little is cooled in saucer.

Immediately fill sterilized jelly jars; when cool top with melted paraffin.