Canning 101: How To Save Runny Jam

jams for Barcamp Philly

A while back, I wrote a piece all about how to ensure that your jam sets. However, even when you keep all those tips in mind, there’s still a chance that you’ll wind up with a poor set. Here’s what you can do to salvage that jam.

If you don’t want to invest any additional work in that jam, all you have to do is change expectations. If it’s just sort of runny, call it preserves. If it’s totally sloshy, label it syrup and move on with your life.

However, if you’re committed to getting a nice, firm, jammy set, there is still hope. Here’s what you can do.

  1. First, you wait. Give the jam 24-48 hours to set up (because truly, sometimes it can take that long for pectin to active).
  2. If it still hasn’t set, it’s time to open all the jars back up.
  3. Pour the jam into your widest pot.
  4. Set heat to high and begin to bring the jam to temperature.
  5. Whisk in one tablespoon of powdered pectin as it heats.
  6. Cook vigorously until jam appears visibly thickened. Test set using plate or sheeting test (both described here).
  7. When jam has reached the desired thickness, remove pot from heat.
  8. Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply brand new lids and screw on the same old bands.
  9. Process in a boiling water bath canner for the amount of time requested in the recipe.
  10. When processing time is up, remove jars from bath. Let jars cool and then test seals.

That’s it!


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171 Responses to Canning 101: How To Save Runny Jam

  1. 101
    Christopher Q. says:

    Strawberry jam turned out more like “poached strawberries in syrup”.

    Since strawberries are so “juicy and have a huge moisture content”, how do you
    figure out the ration of pectin to fruit?

    I’m pretty exacting in recipes, and now I have 8 jars of “strawberry syrup” and followed the recipes to a “T”………..

    I know that not many guys post on these sites, but I’m single and learning how to do “stuff for myself”.

    Both batches of pickled turned out GREAT, so I don’t know what I did wrong here with the jam.

    Any hint would be great, TYIA ;))

  2. 102
    Deb S. says:

    Today I canned the same blackberry jam for the third time. It looks great and acts great in the pot, but after I process it in the canner, it looks runny again.
    The first time I waited 48 hours and today’s I waited 24 hours.
    I’ve make blackberry jam for years and have never had this happen.
    Can you tell me what might have caused this.
    I used the same pot each year, I had fresh pectin, and I used the same recipe that I have been using for years.
    It’s still runny.

    • 102.1
      Marisa says:

      It could be that the blackberries had a higher water content than the ones you used in years passed. It could be that the pectin company changed their formulation. It could be that the day was more humid than years past. This is why it’s always good to check for set prior to canning, because there’s always going to be some natural variation.


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