Food Posts

Juneberry Jelly Recipe

Update posting on January 26, 2020

Enough commenters have mentioned that this recipe did not jell for them, and that they ended up with syrup that I need to address the problem. Rather than dismissing their complaints, I’m taking them to heart and want to warn you that there are good odds you will NOT end up with jelly. This recipe works well for me and others in my area (Mid-Michigan), but I can no longer guarantee it will work well for you. If you would enjoy a syrup… now that I can reasonably guarantee will happen! Sorry, folks! 

(Original recipe below, verbatim)

Because extensive searching on the internet for a good, solid, Juneberry jelly recipe yielded up really, really dismal results (and incidentally, Jam and Jelly are entirely separate things, internet search parameters!) I have taken it upon myself to post EXACTLY how to make really, really good Juneberry jelly.

FIRST:  Most of you are saying “What’s a Juneberry?” Good question. Juneberries also are called serviceberries, Saskatoon, and ten thousand other names. I personally had never heard of them myself until our landlord planted a bunch of what he called Serviceberry trees in our two-acre yard, some years ago.  For many years, the birds beat us to all the berries, but this year, for some special, magical reason, the trees produced a record number of berries and the birds seemed blase about them. We picked a bunch of them while red, and made jelly, which is good but not amazing. But when we picked them purple and made jelly, WORDS FAIL ME. SO GOOD.

SECOND: The berry color matters. Don’t pick them yellow, EVER, and don’t even pick them red – be patient, battle the birds, do whatever you gotta do but only harvest fully ripe, succulent purple berries.  They’ve got the juice and the flavor you need.

THIRD: Juice the berries. Throw them in a saucepan with about a half cup of water and boil them up.  When they are bubbly, mash them down with a potato masher to release all the juice. Cool, strain to obtain clear juice, and if you are so inclined, throw the pulp in the blender to make a smoothie, or puree it smooth to dry for fruit leathers.  Or toss it out. I don’t judge.

FOURTH:  Make da jelly!  Here comes the recipe. This recipe assumes you have basic canning equipment and knowledge, including a hot water bath pot.

MAGNIFICENTLY PERFECT (UNLESS YOU HAVE PECTIN PROBLEMS, SEE COMMENTS!) JUNEBERRY JELLY

  • Get 7 jelly jars scrubbed with very hot water and soap, rinsed well, and waiting. Same with 7 rings. Get 7 lids simmering in a small saucepan. Get your hot water bath heating.
  • Pour 3-1/2 cups of Juneberry juice into a large pan.
  • Add 5 teaspoons of powdered Pectin (buy it in a plastic jar, and you can measure it out. Juneberries need LESS pectin than other berries. Thus, those boxed packets of pre-measured pectin are too much!  You need a little less.)
  • Bring the juice and the pectin to a rolling boil, while whisking it the entire time. Hold the boil for a full minute.
  • Add 4 cups of regular granulated sugar.
  • Bring to a boil again, whisking all the way, and hold it for a minute.
  • QUICKLY (it’s gonna jell!) ladle the jelly into the jars leaving 1/4 inch head space at the top.
  • Add lids, twist on rings, boil in hot water bath for ten minutes.
  • If you did everything right, and the berries were purple – you now possess the finest jelly in the universe. Congratulations.
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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

18 Comments

  • Holly O

    This blog was super helpful to me when searching for a serviceberry jelly recipe some years ago! But I had so much juice that I followed the apple jelly recipe in the Sure-Jell Low Sugar pectin box (pink box “for use in less or no sugar needed recipes” 1.75 oz.) and it has always worked perfectly. It may for other readers as well. 6 cups prepared juice, 4 cups sugar, 1 T. lemon juice. Follow the directions on the box insert. I get 7 – 8 half pints. I’m in Minneapolis. I need at least 12 cups of berries from my city yard tree to get the 6 cups juice. Berries must be purple and pull easiily from the stem. Don’t add more than a cup of water to start, since it will dilute the flavor. Add more at the end if needed to get to the full 6 cups. If you don’t have time to make the jelly right after harvesting, just clean them and throw them in the freezer until you do. Hope this helps!

    • Lori Alden Holuta

      Thank you for sharing your experience and your instructions! I’m hoping they’ll be helpful to other readers. Ironically, my own tree has become VERY popular with the birds the past couple of years. I only rarely get a nice deep purple berry these days, and if I do, I pop it right in my mouth. I bet your jelly tastes fantastic!

  • Vickie from Montana

    I also have a comment about tasteless serviceberries. We have a row of them, and only one of the bushes has tasty berries. The rest of the bushes are bland and what I would describe as mealy even though they all get the same water, etc. I’ve looked on the web for cultivating tips but nothing seems pertinent to my situation. Maybe it’s the composition of our soils here. Anyway, I picked the good ones, made one jar of really nice syrup and called it good.

    • Ceejay

      They can be fickle bushes/trees! I have one on my front hill that produces only tiny, dry berries, while the trees in my back yard have plumper, juicer berries. My landlord a half block away has massive, older trees that make berries that put ALL mine to shame! He doesn’t pick them, so this year I started harvesting from his trees. I really wish I knew more about how to help a tree grow lush berries.

  • Cynthia Wilson

    We are surrounded by Serviceberries year after year, but we leave them to the birds while picking and processing a slew of other wild berries. We pick huckleberries, chokeberries, elderberries, raspberries, and in the fall it’s Wild Rosehips. 30+ years ago my granny told me that although the berries were sweet they had no real flavor. I still try one on occasion, and it seems true every time that the berry lacks any real flavor. I always feel wasteful for not using them, though. Now I’m wondering if we just live in a region, or grow a particular species, that lacks flavor? Maybe cooking the berries brings out their flavor? Thank you.

    • Ceejay

      I envy the bounty of berries you enjoy! And one of these days I’d like to learn more about wild rosehips too. As for the serviceberry flavors, I think the crucial factors are color – they need to go well past red and into deep purple for best flavor and juice, and I do think sugar brings out their flavor too. I’ve eaten them right off the tree, and it’s a much lighter flavor than when I make jelly or syrups. Your area could play into it too – I hear that in Northern Michigan (I’m in Southern Michigan) the serviceberries are MUCH bigger and more flavorful. They grow harvests for markets up there!

  • Laurie Bowman

    I’m so sad 🙁 Last year, I made 8 large (500ml) jars of jam from the service berries that grow on the tree in our front yard. It was delicious but the seeds are quite large and can be a bit bitter, so this year I decided to make jelly instead and found your recipe. I followed it to the letter last night and ended up with 2 large (500ml) and 1 small (250ml) jars of SYRUP! I don’t know what went wrong. It tastes delicious but I really wanted jelly, not syrup. Do you know if I can just dump it all back into a saucepan and add more pectin and then re-process it in my canner? Any help would be appreciated.

    • Ceejay

      Sadly, it can’t be re-processed! On the happy side, you have lots of syrup to enjoy through the year and I can personally vouch for how delicious it is over French Vanilla ice cream. I recommend leaving it preserved, so it does not spoil. My own jelly, 18 jars, this year came out a bit syrupy too. And I even upped the pectin from the original recipe. I’d be happy to learn of any advice to get it to gel harder, myself. I added a heaping spoonful more of pectin this year – maybe we need TWO!

      • Debe

        Do Not follow this person or recipe. I tried it and I thought you need more pectin and you do. Juice is juice follow the recipe on the sure jell card. I have been making jelly for over 30 years and Always followed sure jell card with no problems. so upset that all I have now is syrup. Go wtih your gut.

        • Lori Alden Holuta

          I’m very sorry you had a bad experience with this recipe. I’m making the decision to add a warning to the beginning of this recipe, as others have had issues as well. I’m not sure why it works so well for me and my family and not for others. I too have been making jelly for decades with good success. Perhaps it has to do with location? We are in Mid-Michigan. Perhaps our Juneberry trees are a specific type? I really don’t know. Again, I am sorry for your bad experience, and will add a warning to the recipe post.

    • Ceejay

      I’ve never used liquid pectin, so I hesitate to advise. I see various bits of advise on the web when I google – so I’d suggest just gritting your teeth and diving in to try one! Best of luck!

    • Ceejay

      Yes, you can double the recipe – but be aware that the jelly will start setting, so you have to fill the jars quickly! That’s more of a challenge with a double batch.

  • Dawn

    I have 2 questions. I just want to make sure that the amount of powered pectin is 5 teaspoons not 5 tablespoons. The next questions is how do I make juneberry syrup and water bath processing times?

    • Ceejay

      Yes, five teaspoons is correct! For making juice, look in the recipe look under the step called “THIRD”. If you want to make syrup, you could heat the juice with sugar in it, to your particular taste, but this recipe calls for juice, not syrup.

      Water bath processing time – I process jelly for ten minutes then cool on a towel on my counter.

      Have fun!

  • Jon

    Sounds good, but the idea of a recipe is the quanties involved. So, how many cups of ripe berries are added to that half cup of water.
    So far, I have 12 cups of berries to get a jelly recipe going, but lack a recipe.

    • Ceejay

      I’d say between 6 and 8 cups of berries, for a half cup of water. The reason for the water is simply to coat the bottom of the pan about 1/4″ deep, so the berries don’t scorch before they start juicing.

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