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Easy Apple Jam with Less Sugar

Here in northeast Wisconsin we have an abundance of apple orchards – including our homestead orchards. This year we were blessed with a bumper crop, so we had a blast making fresh apple cider, apple pies, and other treats. We also stocked the pantry, and this easy apple jam was a tasty addition.

homemade apple jam

How to Make Apple Jam

This quick cooking, low sugar apple jam preserves that fresh apple flavor to enjoy year round.

Ingredients

Apples: Choose a mix of sweet and tart apples for a well-balanced flavor. Popular choices include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or a combination of different varieties. Apples that hold up well in pie will generally work well for jam.

3 medium apples weigh around one pound, which yields around 2 cups of chopped apples. You’ll need around 2 pounds (6 apples) for this apple jam recipe.

Do you need to mix apple varieties for making jam? No, but each apple type adds its own unique flavor.

Sugar: The amount of sugar depends on your preference and the sweetness of the apples. Since we’re using Pomona’s Universal Pectin, we can use less sugar, or even a sugar substitute. I use 3/4 cup sugar for 4 cups of fruit, but you can increase that up to 2 cups for a sweeter jam. 1/2 cup to 1 cup of honey is another option.

Lemon Juice: One half cup of lemon juice adds brightness to the jam and helps with the setting process.

Pectin: I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin to speed up gelling and preserve the fresh apple flavor. Pomona’s uses calcium (included in the package) to set the jam instead of sugar. This allows us to use less sugar, or use a sugar substitute.

Learn more about Pomona’s Pectin here. There are full instructions in every box for using the pectin and adapting recipes for low or no sugar. Each box makes several batches of jam or jelly. Get Pomona’s online here.

Spices (optional): Simmer a cinnamon stick with apples while they are cooking, or add a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the apple mix.

Instructions

Prepare clean jars and canning equipment. I fill my water bath canner and place five half-pint jars in the canner to heat. Prepare two piece canning lids. If you don’t want to can your homemade apple jam, it should keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Wash, peel, and core the apples. Cut them into pieces, roughly 1/2 inch on each side. The pieces break down as the jam cooks, so to have apple bits in the jam, it’s best to leave the pieces fairly large. For added texture, you can leave some apple peel on, especially if it’s thin and tender.

chopped apples
Coarsely chop apples so that you have chunks of fruit in the finished jam.

Place the prepared apple chunks in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add calcium water and lemon juice to the pot, stirring well to combine. Add spices, if desired. Measure out pectin and sugar (or honey) in a separate bowl and mix well.

lemon juice
I like Santa Cruz organic lemon juice for its fresh flavor.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the apples start to soften and the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a full boil, and then add the pectin-sweetener mix. Stir vigorously 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the mixture returns to a full boil. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon sticks or any other whole spices.

Canning and Storage

Fill canning jars to 1/4″ from the top. Wipe rims clean, and screw on 2 piece canning lids. Place jars in a water bath canner and bring to a full boil.

Process jars for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute more for every 1000 feet above sea level. See “Altitude Adjustments for Canning” here.

Turn off heat and allow jars to rest for several minutes before removing them from the canner. Place finished jars on a towel on the counter top to cool completely.

Remove the rings and test the seal. Wipe up any spills, date, label, and store in a cool, dark location. For best quality, use within 18 months. Once opened, store the jam in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks.

low sugar apple jam
Mildly sweet and chunky homemade apple jam si great on toast or stirred into yogurt.

Spices

Plain apple jam is yummy, but feel free to add your favorite spice or spice blend to mix things up. A mix of spices and big apple chunks make your jam taste more like apple pie in a jar.

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Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon is a classic choice that complements the natural sweetness of apples. It adds warmth and depth to the jam.

Nutmeg: Use a little freshly grated nutmeg to enhance the overall flavor without overpowering the apples. It has a warm and slightly sweet aroma.

Cloves: Add ground cloves for a hint of spiciness and earthiness. A little bit of clove goes a long way, so I’d stick with 1/4 – 1/8 teaspoon.

Allspice: Allspice has flavors reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg combined. It brings a complex and aromatic note to the jam.

Ginger: Freshly grated or ground ginger adds a subtle spiciness and warmth. It pairs exceptionally well with apples and provides a zesty kick.

Cardamom: Ground cardamom contributes a unique and citrusy flavor to the jam.

Vanilla: Vanilla extract or vanilla bean seeds can impart a sweet and floral undertone, enhancing the overall complexity of the jam.

Black Pepper: A pinch of black pepper adds a subtle heat and depth to the jam. It works well with the sweetness of the apples.

The Best Apples for Apple Jam

As with apple preserves, you want a variety that holds its shape. Some good apple varieties include:

  • Braeburn
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Granny Smith
  • Honeycrisp
  • Jonagold
  • Ida Red
  • Pink Lady
  • Winesap

What’s the Difference Between Apple Jam and Applesauce?

Apple jam typically has more sugar than applesauce, and is cooked to gel and caramelize the flavor. While sauce is used as a simple dessert, side dish, or ingredient for baking, jam is used for a spread or topping. Spread your jam on toast, pair it with cheese, or used as a filling for pastries.

See “How to Make and Use Homemade Applesauce“.

What’s the Difference Between Apple Jam and Apple Jelly?

Apple jelly is also a tasty spread, but it’s made with only the juice of the apples. Apple jam uses apple chunks. See “Easy Apple Jelly from Scratch“.

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Easy Apple Jam with Less Sugar

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This homemade apple jam is easy to make and quick to cook. Use your favorite spices to make the recipe your own.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Processing Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x
  • Category: jam

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 cups apples, peeled and chopped (about 2 pounds or 6 medium apples)
  • 3/4 cup to 2 cups sugar (or 1/2 cup to 1 cup of honey)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons calcium water (included in the box of Pomona’s Pectin)
  • 2 teaspoons pectin
  • Spices (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare clean jars and canning equipment.
  2. Wash, peel, and core the apples. Cut them into pieces, roughly 1/2 inch on each side. For added texture, you can leave some apple peel on, especially if it’s thin and tender.
  3. Place the prepared apple chunks in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add calcium water and lemon juice to the pot, stirring well to combine. Add up to 1 teaspoon of spices, or whole spices, if desired. Measure out pectin and sugar (or honey) in a separate bowl and mix well.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the apples start to soften and the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a full boil, and then add the pectin-sweetener mix. Stir vigorously 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the mixture returns to a full boil. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon sticks or any other whole spices.
  5. Fill canning jars to 1/4″ from the top. Wipe rims clean, and screw on 2 piece canning lids. Place jars in a water bath canner and bring to a full boil. Process jars for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute more for every 1000 feet above sea level. 
  6. Turn off heat and allow jars to rest for several minutes before removing them from the canner. Place finished jars on a towel on the counter top to cool completely.
  7. Remove the rings and test the seal. Wipe up any spills, date, label, and store in a cool, dark location. For best quality, use within 18 months. Once opened, store the jam in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks.

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

easy homemade apple jam recipe

More Apple Recipes

Apple season is one of our favorite times of year. Our earliest varieties start ripening in mid to late August, while our storage apples stay on the trees until the end of October. (The sugar in apples acts as a natural antifreeze!)

These are some more of our favorite recipes and ways to use apples.

Apple Butter Recipe for Crockpot or Instant Pot

Maple Apple Jam

Apple Pie Bars

18 Ways to Preserve Apples

Author & Homesteader Laurie Neverman Profile Photo

This article is written by Laurie Neverman. Laurie grew up in the kitchen, learning baking and home cooking from her momma. At age 15, she and her mom and two sisters created Irene’s Custom Cakes & Catering, which was her summer job through most of high school and college.

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