I am a noob-to-be jam maker and a noob seasoned advice member. I want to make this pectin-free jam recipe; but here is the issue: In English speaking sources, any jam recipe goes with instructions on canning.

In Turkey (where I am from and I currently live), the hot water bath canning process does not exist and a few people online pointed out to the fact that this process does not exist outside North America (although I am not sure how true this is). I would like to know the reason surely but here is my question.

I want to make the aforementioned jam in 1, put them in freshly cleaned jars (in the dishwasher), put mine in the fridge and give away some to my friends and family.

Will I be posing any risk to people who eat the jam? If not, how long will the jam last in/out of the fridge?

Thanks for the help.

  • 1
    The canning process certainly exists outside of North America. It is extremely popular in Bulgaria, which has a cuisine very similar to the Turkish cuisine.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 31, 2013 at 17:49
  • Maybe I need to clarify in my question as well - I am talking about the canning process here: pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-594/348-594.html
    – t to the t
    Jan 31, 2013 at 17:53
  • Yes, this is the normal meaning of canning. It is needed for preserving jams, pickles, etc. It is what my grandma does every summer with her produce.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 31, 2013 at 17:55
  • @rumtscho canning is done in different ways in different places.
    – jwenting
    Feb 1, 2013 at 7:16
  • I am British, and have made jam before. I have never heard of "canning" jam, so it should be fine. Feb 1, 2013 at 16:11

5 Answers 5


If your jam has at least 1:1 ratio (1 kg of sugar per kg of fruit) or more, you do not have to can it. Then it is so overwhelmingly sweet that bacteria cannot live in it.

If the jam has less sugar (1:2 are popular, 1:3 are found sometimes), then you have to either can it, or keep it in the fridge and consume it within a few days, similar to any other cooked food. Else, you are colonizing bacteria in your jam, and at some point, some of them will happen to be pathogenic and cause some unpleasant disease in whoever eats the jam.

Canning is a process in which the jam is closed against any new bacteria (that's why you have to close the jar hermetically) and then heated enough that most old bacteria are killed. After canning, you can keep the closed jars at room temperature without any new bacteria developing.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot - maybe this is the reason all of the jam recipes in Turkish I have seen so far are at least 1:1 ratio. Which beats the point a little for me because I find most jams here too sweet and would like to make lower sugar versions.
    – t to the t
    Jan 31, 2013 at 17:58
  • @ttothet another reason is that Turks are notorious for loving their sweets :) But yes, they would have started preserving in honey and later sugar for lack of other means I guess, long ago, just like the English and Dutch among others started preserving in salt.
    – jwenting
    Feb 1, 2013 at 7:18
  • @jwenting - thanks! :) turks are indeed born with a sweet tooth but since my childhood I've never been into turkish desserts (I'd refuse to eat baklava when I was a kid). give me a fruit pie that's not so sweet and I am good to go :)
    – t to the t
    Feb 1, 2013 at 15:09

The reason why we "can" things is to prevent spoilage. It allows you to make a number of batches of something (like Jam) and then store it on the shelf, unrefrigerated for extended periods of time until you're ready to open the jar. That said, when you finally do open it, you're assured that the large majority of bacteria was killed at the start of the process, and no new bacteria has developed that will spoil your product

Yes, you can make jam, and then skip the "canning process", but your starting product will have a shorter shelf life (days?). I don't know what that shelf life is, so I'll let someone else with more experience chime in on that one.

So... that doesn't really answer your question. But I do have another suggestion. If you'd like to make Jam and you'd like to skip that "canning"/sanitization process, google for something called "freezer jam". Instead of using the canning process to kill any bad bacteria, you're using the freezer to store your product. My father-in-law does that and the jam works beautifully. At very least, it gets you started making jam while you decide if the "canning" process is worth the effort.

  • Thanks. The major reason I want to avoid canning is the unavailability of the tools and the kinds of jars needed. The freezer jam recipe calls for pectin which is not available easily either, do you think I can freeze without the pectin too?
    – t to the t
    Jan 31, 2013 at 18:02
  • Yes, see this very random recipe I just googled: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=549489
    – talon8
    Jan 31, 2013 at 18:35
  • 2
    pectin doesn't act as a preservative but rather as a thickener. Thickness comes from a sugar/pectin ratio, so if you intend to add less sugar, the fact you can't add pectin isn't going to be a problem Feb 1, 2013 at 14:36
  • @KateGregory - thank you for explaining what it is. unfortunately, it is not available here in supermarkets. I saw it online at a wholesaler that sells it by an amount that would be enough pectin for 10 of my lifetimes. :)
    – t to the t
    Feb 1, 2013 at 15:11
  • no worries, most fruit has pectin in it anyway. By comparing recipes, bottled pectin seems to mostly be a way to add more sugar to the same amount of fruit. Feb 1, 2013 at 15:14

I am in the US, and make jam without using the pressure sterilization method, but rather the older style inversion method. You will still need jars with rings and lids (Example). I wash the jars in hot water, and then hold them in a warm oven, just a bit too hot to touch. I keep the lids and rings in boiling water while making the jam mixture. When it is ready, the very hot jam goes into the hot jars, the tops of the jars are wiped clean, the lids are screwed on tight, and the jars are inverted for at least several minutes. Then turn it back right side up, and wait for each jar to seal.

The heat kills the bacteria, and if there is enough sugar and acid, keeps it safe. DO NOT USE THIS FOR NON-JAM/JELLY CANNING! The jams are safe for months, as long as they sealed and stay sealed. After opening them, I usually refrigerate them.

If the jars are too hot, the jam will explode out of the jar, get jam on the seal, and it won't seal. But everything does need to be hot, so bacteria are killed. The newer pressure sterilization method is considered safer, and the only way to can non-jam items.


When I was young my mother used to make huge batches of Jams and Jellys. To seal them up for the winter she did not use a canning process. Instead she used bottles with simple twist in covers. The bottles were serrilized in boiling water. Then they were removed from the hot water with tongs and filled up with the steaming hot jam or jelly mixture. She set these out on the counter to cool for a short time covered with a cloth....but not really very long at all. When the jars were still rather hot she would pour in a layer of molten paraphin wax on top of the jelly mixture that was starting to set up. This sealed the jar from contamination. After the wax had hardened she would twist on the covers and store the many jars of jams and jellys on shelves in the cool basement. All winter long I carried sandwiches to school that were made from home baked bread and jelly from those jars.

When one went to use a fresh jar of jelly or jam the wax was simply broken into pieces and spooned out of the jar. I recall that it was rare to ever find a jar from the shelf in the basement that had gone bad and spoiled.

Do people still use the wax method today?

  • 1
    You can't "seal the jar from contamination" because several types of bacteria are obligate or facultative anaerobes. That's the whole point of the pressure canning process. This may have been "mostly safe" but only in-jar sterilization is guaranteed to be.
    – Aaronut
    Feb 1, 2013 at 6:20
  • hot-fill followed by paraffin seal is now considered to be less safe than boiling the jars with the rubber-ringed lids to eliminate any bacteria that were in while you filled, as well as keeping new ones out. Feb 1, 2013 at 14:38

I live in Turkey and my nanny showed me how they can in the boiling water. It's real simple for jams and veggie sauces. You have the sterile jars and lids (re-used generally). Then you boil them in the water for 40 minutes to an hour.

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