Haskap Jam is a wonderful way to preserve the intensely fruity flavour of those northern berries known as haskaps or honeyberries. It's a thick and lusciously tangy jam, made with only 2 ingedrients. No pectin needed! You'll love how easy it is to make.
The haskap berries are always one of the first edibles to arrive in our yard, ripening just after the rhubarb and asparagus are up. I often almost miss them, because these lovely northern berries hide under the leaves on their bushes.
Haskap berries are unique and tasty with an intense fruity flavour - like a tart and tangy cross between a blueberry, raspberry, and black currant. They're elongated - some are pointy at the ends and some are blunt-ended, with dusky blue-purple skins. The insides are very dark and juicy. Haskaps have a delicious zing, and can have a slight (but pleasing) bitterness and astringency which disappears when they are cooked.
Super Healthy Berries
Haskaps (Lonicera caerulea), also known as honeyberries, mayberries, Siberian blueberries, blue honeysuckle, or edible honeysuckle, are native to northern hemisphere countries including Canada, Japan and Russia. They are able to withstand extremely harsh winter temperatures and are the first berries to produce in the north. The word ‘haskap’ is Japanese for ‘many fruits on branches.’ The indigenous Ainu people of northern Japan call it 'berry of long life and good vision.' Haskaps have super health benefits - containing 3 times more antioxidants and 4 times more vitamin C and anthocyanins than blueberries! They are fantastic little powerhouses of nutrients and have good levels of manganese, vitamin A, and fiber.
Haskaps Make Great Jam
In fact, they make the most amazing jam. It's my very favourite - dark, fruity, intense, and with just the right balance between tanginess and sweetness.
Haskap berries contain a high amount of natural pectin, making them a perfect fruit for cooking into a simple jam containing only two ingredients - haskaps and sugar. All it takes is a bit of time to cook the berries until they reach the jelling stage - 20 to 25 minutes, and you'll have jars of this fantastic jam to slather on toast (or eat from a spoon!) The jam also works great with frozen haskaps/honeyberries.
How to Freeze Haskaps
To freeze haskaps, pick them over to remove any leaves and debris. Rinse the berries in a colander (be gentle - the berries are very delicate). Lay them onto a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. (Confession - I don't wash my berries very often, as they are unsprayed and I pick them with clean hands into a clean pail.) Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay the haskaps onto it in a single layer. Freeze the berries until firm, then pour them into a large heavy-duty ziptop bag or freezer container, label, and freeze for up to a year.
Frozen haskaps are also great for smoothies and baking into pies and cobblers. They can be used in place of blueberries in recipes.
Making Pectin-Free Haskap Jam is Easy
The one thing to watch for when cooking jam without pectin, is to make sure you don't overcook it. It's tempting to cook the jam a little longer, thinking it's not thick enough. Keep in mind that the jam will thicken up considerably as it cools. If you cook it too long, it's easy to get it where the jam is stiff and candy-like when it's cool. With practice, you'll come to recognize just when the jam has the right consistency. That's why I reccommend using a thermometer, at least when you first start making no-pectin jams, as you don't have any guesswork.
Just combine the berries and sugar in a saucepan. Heat and stir them until the sugar melts and the berries release their juices. The let them boil until they reach the jell stage, just when the jam liquid goes from watery to slightly syrupy (about 220°F/104.4°C). With haskap berries, that should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
I've found that the addition of a spoonful of rosewater subtly enhances the fruitiness of the jam. It's lovely, but not necessary. (If you have a jar of it on hand, add it, but if not, don't go out to buy it.) The jam is still great without it - just berries and sugar.
How to Know When Your Jam is Ready
There are several different ways to determine if your jam has reached the jell stage. Using a thermometer is the easiest and most reliable. The other two methods are more subjective and depend on experience making jam, but they work as well:
- the most accurate way to test your jam is using a candy thermometer. It's a small investment, definitely worth it if you plan on making pectin-free jam more often. Clip the thermometer onto the side of the saucepan while you boil the jam. The jelling temperature is 220°F (104.4°C). This should take about 20-25 minutes of boiling. While you are cooking your jam, ithe temperature will hover around 210°F for quite a while, and then quickly increase the last few degrees. If you prefer a softer jam, remove it from the heat at around 218-219°F.
- the freezer test method - before you start cooking your jam, place several small glass saucers into the freezer to chill. When you think the jam is close to jelling, after about 18-20 minutes, or when you see the texture of the juices slightly thicken and become syrupy, drop about a teaspoon of jam onto one of the saucers, and freeze it for 2 minutes, then run your finger through the jam. If it leaves a trail without filling in, it's ready. Test again in a few minutes if it's not ready.
- the wrinkle test - put a spoonful of jam onto a chilled plate, freeze for 2 minutes, and push on the jam from one side with a spoon. If the surface of the jam wrinkles, it is at the jell stage.
- the drip test - when you lift up the stirring spoon and hold it over the pot, watch the jam droplets as they fall back into the pot. At first the drops will drip off the spoon individually. As it jells, they will start to fall slower. If a couple of the drops run together at the bottom of the spoon and fall as one drop, your jam is at the jell stage.
How to Can your Haskap Jam
Canning the jam only requires a few simple steps. Pour the hot jam into the sterlized jars, wipe the rims, and seal them, then leave them undisturbed until they are cool. (See how to sterilize jars here.)
If you put the jam into hot sterilized jar when the jam is still boiling hot, and you work quickly, you can just set the jars onto a towel on the counter and leave them to cool, without processing them. The sealed ones will keep for 6-12 months.
However, for added safety and insurance that jars will keep for longer, it's best to water-bath-process your jam. Line a stockpot, canning pot, or cooking pot large enough to hold the jars with a clean dishcloth (to keep the jars from bouncing around and breaking while boiling) or a jar rack. Set the jars into the pot and pour hot water over them to cover them by an inch.
Cover the pot with a lid. Bring the water to a boil, then adjust the heat to keep it boiling (but not so vigorously it boils over). Boil the jam jars for 10 minutes, then use tongs to remove them from the pot, set them upright on a towel on the counter, and leave them undisturbed until they are completely cool.
All jars that are sealed (the snap lid is sucked down and doesn't pop or move when you press on it) are safe to keep for up to a year at room temperature. Any jars that don't seal, should be refrigerated and use up within the next three months.
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Easy Haskap Jam (Honeyberry Jam), No Pectin
- 4 cups (600gms) fresh haskap berries (honeyberries) or 4½ cups (600gms) frozen haskap berries
- 3 cups (600gms) granulated sugar
- optional: 1 teaspoon rosewater
- Sterilize 3 half-pint (250ml) canning jars, and put 3 snap lids into a saucepan of water set over low heat to keep hot.
- Combine the berries and sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon. The mixture will be dry at first, but in a few minutes the berries will start releasing their juices. Stirring constantly prevents the sugar from sticking to the pot and burning before the juices start flowing.
- Keep cooking and stirring until the mixture comes to a full boil and all the sugar is dissolved.
- Adjust the heat to keep the fruit mixture bubbling steadily at a low boil and start timing. It will take about 20 to 25 minutes after it reaches a boil for the jam to cook, but it will depend on the temperature of your burner and the diameter of your saucepan.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the outside of the pot, so the tip of the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pot, but is about halfway into the depth of the jam.
- Cook the jam until it reaches the jell stage - 220℉ (104.4℃). The jam temperature will hover around 210℉ (99℃) for about the first 15 minutes, and then will start slowly increasing toward 220℉. As it gets closer to temperature, the foam will subside and you'll notice a difference in the texture - it will get more syrupy and start plopping and splattering droplets a bit.
- If you don't have a thermometer, you can test the jell stage by dropping a bit of jam onto a chilled plate and checking how firm it is.
- When the jam reaches the jell stage, remove it from the heat and pour it immediately into sterilized canning jars, filling them up to ¼-inch from the top of the jar. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth, add a hot snap lid to each jar, and then a screw band which you should just tighten finger-tight.
- Set the jars on a towel to cool, undisturbed, or process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.
- When cooled, check to make sure the jars are sealed - the snap lid should be sucked down tight and not move or pop when pressed.