How to Make Honey Sweetened Fruit Preserves {using natural pectin}

How to Make Fruit Preserves (Honey Sweetened)

Spring officially arrives this week, and with it comes the start of berry season here in Southern California. First to appear are red and delicious organic strawberries, followed by sweet-n-tangy raspberries, plump blueberries and one of my personal favorites – blackberries.

It’s no secret that we get a little excited about fresh berries around here. And rightly so! They’re not only absolutely delicious, but they’re chock full of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants too! That’s why they’re a favorite for enjoying in fruit salads and adding to grain-free granola, yogurt and desserts.

Of course, they also make amazing jams and preserves, which is why I’m sharing a simple method for making your own delightful honey sweetened fruit preserves using your favorite seasonal berries. A key part of this method is a little secret I learned from one of my favorite grain-free cookbooks.

The secret? Cranberries! By using a small amount of whole cranberries, you can avoid using powdered pectins to set your preserves. That’s because cranberries are high in natural pectin. So by including them in the recipe, your preserves will set-up nicely with just a little touch of fresh-squeezed lemon.

Homemade Jam

This easy recipe will enable you to make delicious berry preserves with less fuss and more all-natural flavor. Shown above (left to right): Blackberry Preserves, Strawberry Jam and Raspberry Preserves. Yum!

What to do with all that delicious homemade jam? Why not make these amazing jam-layered crumble cookie bars! Mmm, they are soooo gooood!

Raspberry Crumble Bars GF
This special recipe at Deliciously Organic highlights the sweet fruity flavor of preserves sandwiched between two layers of scrumptious cookie crumble. Yes, please!

P.S. Looking for more delicious real food recipes? Subscribe to The Nourishing Home and you’ll receive FREE weekly whole food meal plans, exclusive recipes and lots of helpful resources for living a more nourished life! Click here to subscribe and you’ll also receive my free eCookbook.

Honey Sweetened Fruit Preserves {using natural pectin}

Yield: 4 one-cup servings


  • 4 cups of your favorite fresh berries, such as raspberries, strawberries or blackberries (or use thawed frozen berries)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups pure honey (depending on how sweet you prefer your jam)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)


  1. Please Note: If making strawberry preserves, remove the stems and quarter the strawberries before measuring out 4 cups. For raspberry or blackberry jam, simply cut the berries in half before measuring. If making blueberry jam, no need to cut them.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium/medium-high heat, bring the berries and honey to a boil while stirring. Then, reduce the temperature until the mixture remains at a constant simmer. Allow berries to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once you reach the 20-minute mark, use the back of a wooden spoon to mash the cranberries against the side of the saucepan. This helps to release all of their natural pectin.
  4. Maintain a gentle simmer, making sure to stir the mixture frequently, so it does not scorch. While stirring, use the "back-of-spoon" method to break up any large pieces of fruit into smaller pieces. Or if you prefer a less chunky jam, thoroughly mash all of the berries.
  5. After 10 minutes, if the mixture is somewhat thick and no longer runny, turn off the heat. It will thicken more as it cools. If it is not thick enough, continue cooking at a gentle simmer, while stirring constantly until it thickens a bit more, then turn off the heat. (Keep in mind, preserves are looser than jellies, so once the mixture is chilled, it will be thick, but not gelatin-like.)
  6. Pour the fresh-squeezed lemon juice over the warm preserves, stir well and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  7. Evenly distribute the cooled preserves among four 8 oz. glass jars making sure to leave about an inch of space between the top of the jam and the jar lid to accommodate for expansion. Then, cover and refrigerate or freeze. (Or you can preserve the jam by following the classic hot water bath canning method.)
  8. Because homemade jam/preserves do not contain any preservatives, I recommend placing one jar in the fridge to enjoy now, and freeze the three remaining jars for future use.


Recipe Variation: You can also combine berries to create delicious flavor combinations, such as my popular Jumble Berry Jam recipe.

Will Cranberries Affect the Flavor of my Jam? Yes, slightly. Cranberries will add a slightly tangy undertone, that is actually very pleasant in balancing the sweetness of the honey. This slight tartness may be more noticeable with milder fruits like strawberries, depending on your taste preferences.

If you're not a fan of cranberries, there are several things you can do if you wish to avoid their slight tart undertone ... First, I've found frozen cranberries to be less tart in flavor. Second, you can decrease the amount of cranberries to 3/4 cups and increase the berries by 1/4 cup. The jam won’t be as thick, but with milder fruits, such as strawberries, the mild tartness will be less noticeable.

In addition, if you are able to tolerate pectin (some diets restrict it), then you could opt to bypass the cranberries altogether and use a little Pomona’s Pectin instead to help thicken your jam, as I did in my homemade Peach Preserves recipe, since peaches are an especially mild fruit.

Did You Know: The words "jam" and "preserves" are often used interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference between the two. The fruit in preserves is often cut into chunks and allowed to remain somewhat whole, whereas jam is made using crushed or mashed fruit, which gives it a less chunky texture. So for this recipe, you can mash the fruit thoroughly during the cooking process to create a classic-style jam, or you can leave much of the fruit intact to create traditional preserves. Either option is delicious!

Fruit Preserves

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  1. says

    I came across your website searching for almond flour pancakes and love the variety of recipes you have on here :) I’ve been looking for a natural way to make fruit preserves for a while and can’t wait to try your honey method! Thx! :)

    • says

      Welcome, Ceara! So glad the Lord has led you here. It’s a joy to be able to provide recipes to help families eat healthier. Thank you for your kind encouraging words. So nice to meet you! Happy jam-making! Blessings, Kelly :)

  2. Deb Harris says

    I really like the idea of using honey in preserves. I do have a couple questions. I’m not really a fan of cranberries or cranberry sauces so I wonder how noticeable the cranberries are? Can these be preserved like a jam with a water bath rather than freezing? Thanks for a great site.

    • says

      Hi, Deb. Great question. I am going to note this in the recipe since several have asked. With regard to your question about the cranberries. They do add a little tartness, especially with milder fruits. (Frozen cranberries are less tart.) But one thing you can do is decrease the amount to 3/4 cups of whole cranberries and increase the strawberries by 1/4 cup. The jam won’t be as thick, but with milder fruits it will be less noticeable (the slight tartness), if you use a little less cranberry.

      In addition, you can bypass the cranberries altogether and use Pomona’s Pectin ( instead, if you are able to tolerate pectin (some diets restrict it). This would be the easiest option to ensure absolutely no tartness or cranberry flavor for those who dislike them.

      And last but certainly not least, you are SO SMART. I meant to note about using a water bath and completely forgot until I saw you note. So thank you. Yes, you can use a water bath for canning, but I always want to point people to an in-depth method that ensure safety. Here’s the link with details on safely canning fruit jams:

      Thanks for your great questions! Blessings, Kelly

      Happy jam-making!! Blessings, Kelly

      • Deb Harris says

        Thanks for all the info. I’ve made jams a few times but it was years ago & I love the idea of using honey instead of sugar. Pectin is fine for me, but I might try that & also try just decreasing cranberries as you suggested. Thanks for the link. It’s been a while so I’m sure a refresher in canning will be helpful. Thanks

  3. Erin says

    So excited about this one. Our local food stop is offering 30 pounds of frozen organic strawberries right now and I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make preserves! Only thing stopping me was wondering if there was a way to make preserves without the ton of sugar. And any comments on how the cranberries affect the flavor?

    • says

      Hi, Erin. Sounds like you’re going to be having lots of fun making jam! Hooray! One thing to note with frozen strawberries … it’s best to allow them to thaw and then use just the berries (not all the liquid that will form in the bottom of the bowl). Reason is, by not using all the liquid, the jam will be thicker. Save the thawed juices for smoothies. :)

      With regard to your question about the cranberries. They do add a little tartness, especially with milder fruits. (Frozen cranberries are less tart.) But one thing you can do is decrease the amount to 3/4 cups of whole cranberries and increase the strawberries by 1/4 cup. The jam won’t be as thick, but with milder fruits it will be less noticeable (the slight tartness), if you use a little less cranberry.

      Happy jam-making!! Blessings, Kelly :)

  4. Kathy says

    Wow! I am so excited about this recipe! My family loves freezer jam, but since ridding our home of refined sugars, I have been in a conundrum how to utilize honey in its place and without using packaged pectin! What a relief! Thank you!

    • says

      That’s great to hear, Kathy! I’m so glad I posted this today. Thanks for your kind words. We love making homemade jam. It’s so simple, healthier and delicious! Have fun! :) Blessings, Kelly

  5. Lynda says

    This is great, thanks! We do like things not as sweet, tho. Is there any problem with cutting the honey to a 1/2 cup, or even possible a 1/4? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi, Lynda. I am fairly certain that reducing the honey in this recipe to 1/2 cup should not impact the end result, other than making it less sweet. I would start with a 1/2 cup and then, reduce it further if you still think it’s too sweet. Let us know how it turns out. Blessings, Kelly

    • says

      Hi, Andrea. I haven’t tried it but I am confident it should work just fine, it just may be a little thinner because honey sets up under refrigeration a little better. And you probably already know this, but if you use a lighter, grade A syrup it will have less maple flavor. Let us know how it works out. Blessings, Kelly :)

  6. Aude says

    Thank you for this recipe. Do you think that we can use the recipe for any fruit?
    I’m thinking about peach, pumpkin……

  7. Jennifer says

    This recipe looks great! I can across it via Deliciously Organic and can’t wait to try it. I have made homemade preserves before but always found them too runny. Hoping the addition of cranberries will help! Have you ever tried making a lemon preserve? My oldest daughter LOVES lemons ( especially lemon yogurt). I was hoping to make a homemade lemon preserves to add to plain Greek yogurt vs the one wallaby brand I buy (way too much sugar and the yogurt is fat free). Any ideas on how I might accomplish a lemon one? Thanks so much!!

  8. Jenn says

    I just made this from frozen, mixed berries, which I defrosted and drained the juices. I also used 1 cup of frozen cranberries and 1 cup of honey, and 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed. I will add a bit more honey next time (even my tart-loving husband suggested this), but it still delicious!
    I will definitely be making this again and going forward.
    No refined sugar and no processed pectin? I love it!

  9. SJ says

    Hello. I have not heard of freezer jam before. I understand your recipe but I have a few questions. How long should/could it remain in the freezer. How do you use it once it’s been frozen? Is there a special way to thaw it?
    Thank you.

  10. Kate says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! My kiddos like to eat PB&J almost everyday, so I have been investigating jams that doesn’t use refined sugar. I am curious if you could sub apples for the cranberries since they have pectin, as well. Would the ratio stay the same?

  11. Amber says

    This recipe is absolutely amazing! I have never made jam/jelly before, so I was pretty nervous about trying this. I thought maybe I should at least start with a sugar filled, pectin recipe. I am so glad I just went with this. It tastes so amazing. I literally could just eat it with a spoon. Thanks for sharing. Can any berry or fruit be used in this recipe? I froze the initial jars I make but would like to can the next batch. If I am reading correctly in the link you posted it said to process jellies for 5 minutes. But other recipes I have come across online say to process for 10 minutes. How long would you recommend processing them for. Thanks so much :)

    • says

      Hi, Amber. I’m so happy you enjoyed this simple sugar-free, pectin-free recipe. Yes, you can pretty much use any berry and fruit that would taste good with cranberries. As far as canning goes, canning 10 instead of 5 won’t impact the flavor, so to be safe, I opt for about 8-10 minutes. Hope this helps! :)

  12. Melissa says

    I made this recipe with raspberries, best jam ever! Better than anything I’ve ever had from the store!

  13. LindiMoo says

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thank you for posting it. How long will the finished preserves last in the refrigerator? How long will they last in the freezer? And finally…once they are thawed from the freezer…how long will they last in the refrigerator?

  14. Beth says

    Perfect timing to stumble across your jam recipe. I had just bought fresh cranberries and wondered what to make with them beside more cranberry sauce. So excited that I used what berries I had on hand…blueberries and red raspberries. This recipe turned out great and so yummy I’m licking the spoon right now!

    • says

      Well, that’s the biggest compliment to have someone share via their blog. So thank you for the sweet shout-out. I am so happy this recipe has blessed you! Thank you for being a blessing in return! :) Happy jam making!

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