Substitute for Pectin: Blackberry Jam with Shredded Apple

Blackberry Jam with Shredded Apple Pectin Substitute l A canning recipe l Homestead Lady.comYou’ve just started your blackberry jam and you open the cupboard to discover you’ve run out of pectin. The stores are closed, the kids are in bed, you’ve already taken off your bra – no way you’re going to the store! No worries, grab a few apples and you can finish that tasty batch of blackberry jam with this shredded apple pectin replacement.

Low and High Pectin Fruits

Blackberries, like most fruit, fluctuate between a high and a medium pectin fruit. You can read this really clear breakdown of high and low pectin fruits at Pick Your Own for more information on other fruits, too. This article also gives a good overview of how pectin works.

I finally have a list I compiled and just shoved in my canning book for quick reference.

Pectin Content in Most Fruits l Homestead

If you’d like a copy of that for FREE, just click here to download it.

When I go to make blackberry jam, or any other low pectin fruit jam for that matter, I look quickly at my chart to see if I can reasonably mix in any high pectin fruits. Mixed fruit jams are great for the end of season harvests when you have a bunch of random produce leftover. However, it’s also handy to mix in a high pectin fruit for a better set to jams and jellies.

Another way to mix high and low pectin fruit is to pick slightly under-ripe fruit along with the ripe ones. In the case of blackberries, you can pick some slightly under-ripe berries along with the smooshy, sweet ripe ones to mix into your blackberry jam for a firmer set.

Substitute for Pectin

Running out of commercial pectin doesn’t have to be a crisis when you’re making blackberry jam. In fact, some people regularly make their own pectin. You can even can your homemade pectin to use later.

Read the following posts to learn how to make your own pectin. Pay attention to canning instructions and suggestions on how to determine the quantity of homemade pectin you should use in something like blackberry jam.

pH and Canning Safety

If you want to do some extra curricular reading on pH and Water Bath Canning just read this post from Food in Jars. She will also explain to you why we toss pasteurized lemon juice into recipes where we’re concerned about getting the correct pH for safety. Bottled lemon juice is more reliable than fresh, she explains.

If you want to do even more reading on pH meters and testing acidity in your home-canned foods, click here. Most of the time, if you follow tested recipes and are careful about adding enough sugar and pectin, citric acid or lemon juice as called for, your jams will be safe.

In order to double check your recipes against proven recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, you can navigate to their site and do some comparison with recipes similar to yours. For example, here’s their base berry jam recipe with not added pectin. I don’t use as much sugar as their recipe calls for, so I add lemon juice or citric acid to increase acidity.

Blackberry Jam Recipe for Canning with Substitute Pectin

The following is a recipe for blackberry jam made with under-ripe shredded apples as a substitute for pectin. If you have ripe Granny Smith apples, those would work, too. As a general rule, remember that the more ripe the fruit, the less pectin it will contain.

If you’re canning with kids in your kitchen, please be sure to read this post on keeping them safe and you sane.

5 from 1 vote
Blackberry Jam with Pectin Substitute l Use shredded apples in place of pectin for this canning recipe l Homestead
Blackberry Jam with Shredded Apple (as a pectin substitute)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time-ish
1 hr
Canning time
10 mins
Total Time-ish
1 hr 10 mins

This is a simple blackberry jam recipe that includes shredded apples instead of commercial pectin.  This recipe can be cut in half, if necessary. 

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: blackberry jam, canning recipe
Serving Suggestion: 4 pints
  • 8 Cups Blackberries, washed
  • 2 Cups Raw sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice, pasteurized (not fresh)
  • 1-3 Under-ripe or tart apples, grated *If small, use three; if large, use one
  1. Place a metal spoon in your freezer.

  2. Wash blackberries and apples.  Core apples, but do NOT peel.

  3. Combine apples, blackberries and lemon juice in a large, heavy bottomed pot.  Cook until soft.

  4. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Cook on medium-high heat until boiling, stirring constantly.  Cook until mixture is reduced by at least a third, possibly a half.  Don't forget to stir to prevent scorching!

  5. After mixture has reduced, remove spoon from freezer and scoop a bit of jam onto it.  Do "the spoon test" as per the instruction in the "Notes" section.  

  6. Bottle quickly into pint jars, remove air bubbles with a knife down the inside of the jar, wipe rims and place seals on top.  Process in a water bath canner for ten minutes, adjusting for your altitude.

Recipe Notes

To conduct "the spoon test" to test for jam set, do the following.

  • Place some jam on your frozen spoon.
  • Watch to see if the jam sets up on the spoon after about a minute. 
  • Dump the fruit part back into the jam in the pot and run your finger down the spoon in the syrupy stuff left behind. 
  • Does your finger leave a trail?  Is the syrup holding its position?  If so, your jam is ready to be bottled and canned. 
  • If not, you can add a 1/2 cup more sugar if you'd like and/or continue cooking and stirring until set has been achieved.

Other Seasonal Jams

If you discover you really love making jam at home, I encourage you to try these other recipes:

Dark Cherry Mulberry Jam

Elderberry Jam from Lovely Greens

Onion Jam Recipe from Attainable Sustainable

Rhubarb Mint Jam from Homespun Seasonal Living

Incidentally, Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living has a handy little book on unique jams and jellies that you might want to check out. These home-canned treats make excellent gifts for the coming holiday (or any!) season, FYI.

DisclaimerInformation offered on the Homestead Lady website is for educational purposes only. Read my full disclaimer HERE.

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14 thoughts on “Substitute for Pectin: Blackberry Jam with Shredded Apple

    1. You’re quite welcome, Arianna – so glad it was useful! Home canning isn’t always convenient (seriously, I never run out of stuff when I can get to the store), but it’s SO worth it!

      If you’re new, be sure to check out – it’s my go-to resource. Also, has a lot of unique jam combinations and fun things to put up. does, too, and all her recipes are economical and good for larger families. I’m sure there are more great sites that I’m just not remembering right now, but those three should be able to help you along.

      Happy Canning!

  1. Thank you for this tip! I have wanted to try pectin free jam for a while now, maybe this is my year to actually do it! I’ll have to try your recipe this summer.

  2. Oh this list is so helpful! I printed it out and I’m adding it to my stack of canning books and recipes! I will have to try this recipe out when the Himalayan Blackberries ripen this summer! Thank you! Awesome info as always! 😀

    1. Himalayan Blackberries?! Yum! I will, of course, be expecting to see some in my post around Christmas time. Ahem. 🙂

    1. Our great grandmothers knew a thing, or two! Citrus pips work wonderfully well, too. The download has a bunch of other ideas, as well.

  3. I am trying to find recipes for jams, jellies, syrups and sauces that use all natural wholesome ingredients. I am looking for recipes that do not use sugar or manufactured sugar substitutes. I do not mind using sweeteners such as juice or honey if I have to but the less sweeteners the better. I like the idea of using grated apples for pectin rather than store bought pectin. I found an article that stated honey could be substituted for sugar at half the ratio of honey verses sugar. For example if a recipe asks for 4 cups of sugar use 2 cups of honey instead. I have not discovered the amount of juice one would use yet to substitute sugar or if that is even an option. I have always used the store bought pectin and made the full sugar recipes but due to lifestyle changes I am looking for other alternatives in my canning and cooking. I have not tried any recipes yet but have done quite a bit of research. One article mentioned using corn starch to thicken jams, jellies and syrups. Because I only have a few years of canning experience I am hoping to receive some guidance. I want my canning products to have a shelf life that is equivalent to recipes which use sugar. From reading it sounds like my foods need to have a certain Ph level. Where would I find recipes that give the amount of each ingredient to use for different jams that do not use sugar? Any information would be most welcome!

    1. Great questions and yes, you can reduce the sugar content in your jams and jellies! To get you started, you may want to try the book Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, by Marissa McClellan. She walks you through using alternative sugars for canning. Also helpful might be Pomona’s Pectin’s resources – they have a book explaining how to use their pectin and reduce sugar in recipes. It’s simply called Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin. You can also access their website, plus they have a section of their website that will help you figure out how to safely create your own recipe:

      Let me know if you still need more direction after studying those materials and I’ll see how else I might be able to help. You can create delicious jams and jellies with less sugar and you’ll be so glad you did!

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