Weekend Recipe: Holiday Jam

Holiday Jam

Photo: Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

This easy‐to‐make jam from America's Test Kitchen is packed with the classic flavors of the winter holiday season. Cranberries are the stars of these jars with their vibrant color and kick. To keep their intensity in check we added an equal amount of pears, citrus and warm spices, and just enough sugar to create a pleasingly sweet‐tart profile. Our method was simple: soften the fruit, add the sugar and spices, and boil the mixture until thickened.

Be sure to start with 16 ounces of cranberries for this recipe. We used Anjou and Bosc pears, but any variety of pear can be used. Do not try to make a double batch of this jam in a large pot; it will not work. Rather, make two single batches in separate pots.

Holiday Jam​
Yields four 1-cup jars


1 pound (4 cups) fresh or frozen whole cranberries 
1 pound ripe but firm pears, peeled and shredded (1 3/4 cups) 
1 cup water 
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest plus cup juice (2 oranges) 
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

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1. Place 2 small plates in freezer to chill. Set canning rack in large pot, place four 1‐cup jars in rack, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to simmer over medium heat, then turn off heat and cover to keep hot.

2. In Dutch oven, bring cranberries, pears, water, and orange zest and juice to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and continue to boil, uncovered, until sugar is completely dissolved.

3. Off heat, crush fruit with potato masher until mostly smooth. Return mixture to boil over medium‐high heat and cook, stirring and adjusting heat as needed, until thickened and registers 217 to 220 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. (Temperature will be lower at higher elevations; see below for more information.) Remove pot from heat.

217-220 degrees for sea level
215-218 degrees for 1,000 feet
213-216 degrees for 2,000 feet
211-214 degrees for 3,000 feet
209-212 degrees for 4,000 feet
208-211 degrees for 5,000 feet
206-209 degrees for 6,000 feet

4. To test consistency, place 1 teaspoon jam on chilled plate and freeze for 2 minutes. Drag your finger through jam on plate; jam has correct consistency when your finger leaves distinct trail. If runny, return pot to heat and simmer for 1 to 3 minutes longer before retesting. Skim any foam from surface of jam using spoon.

5. Place dish towel flat on counter. Using jar lifter, remove jars from pot, draining water back into pot. Place jars upside down on towel and let dry for 1 minute. Using funnel and ladle, portion hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Slide wooden skewer along inside edge of jar and drag upward to remove air bubbles.

6a. For short-term storage: Let jam cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until jam is set, 12 to 24 hours. (Jam can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.)

6b. For long-term storage: While jars are hot, wipe rims clean, add lids, and screw on rings until fingertip‐tight; do not overtighten. Return pot of water with canning rack to boil. Lower jars into water, cover, bring water back to boil, then start timer. Cooking time will depend on your altitude: Boil 15 minutes for up to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet, 25 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet, or 30 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 feet. Turn off heat and let jars sit in pot for 5 minutes longer. Remove jars from pot and let cool for 24 hours. Remove rings, check seal, and clean rims. (Sealed jars can be stored for up to 1 year.)

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