Blackberry Sage Jam

I spent three hours making jam this afternoon. I had no idea it would take that long, but it’s so delicious that I don’t even care! This is an old-fashioned jam, Joy of Cooking style. No pectin: just fruit, sugar and a little elbow grease. And some sage and lemon.

Some people like the taste of jams with pectin because you don’t have to cook them as long to get them to thicken, but I personally love the depth of flavor you get from the cooking process. My hand is a little tired from stirring though!

You can probably go out and harvest your own, or find a good deal at your farmers market on a flat of overripe berries perfect for jam like I did.

I had to have this while it was still warm with a couple slices of the whole grain sourdough that I picked up at the market as well. It wasn’t quite set up yet, but I couldn’t wait. The sage doesn’t add a strong flavor, just a nice earthy backbone to the sweet tanginess of the berries.


  • 2 1/2 quarts (10 C) fresh blackberries
  • 6 C sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • pinch of salt, if desired

Sterilize 6 pint jars and lids, and keep them warm until needed.

Wash your berries, drain and combine with sugar in a large enamel or stainless steel pan. I like to add a pinch of salt as well. Mix thoroughly, crushing the berries a bit until they’re all juicy and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Add the juice and rind of a halved lemon and 3 large sprigs of fresh sage.

Cook and stir over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer and stir from the bottom to keep from sticking and burning.

Continue cooking and stirring until a small amount dropped on a cold plate (I stuck one in the freezer) will hold a bit of shape. Time will depend on many factors, including juiciness and acidity of your berries, but it will be at least 30 minutes.  The jam will tell YOU when it’s ready, and trust me it has a mind of its own!

When it is ready, remove from heat and take out the lemon and sage with tongs. Then ladle into jars, wipe the rims and threads clean, put on your lids and process.

This made about 5 1/4 pints for me, which was perfect because I just stuck the 1/4 jar in the fridge to try right away. It was worth all the work; this jam will be a tasty winter treat!

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