Whip up a batch of this easy Nectarine Jam in less than an hour and enjoy it all year long. It's also perfect for gifting with the free printable labels!
While we love our super easy Peach Freezer Jam, this Nectarine Jam (similar in flavor) is more versatile in that can be canned with a hot water bath to make it shelf-stable but it can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
What's the difference between peaches and nectarines?
Lots of people think that nectarines are a cross between a peach and a plum or a peach and some other fruit. Not true. Nectarines, although similar in appearance, flavor and texture, are a unique variety of fruit with distinctive characteristics.
So while the two fruits share a close botanical relationship (both are from the Rosaceae family), these are ways in which peaches and nectarines differ:
- Nectarines have a smoother, glossier exterior in lieu of the velvety, fuzzy skin of a peach. This unique exterior makes them easily distinguishable from peaches.
- The skin on nectarines is thinner making peeling unnecessary.
- Nectarines are often smaller and have a slightly tangier, more pronounced flavor.
- Although nectarines are often a bit sweeter than peaches, they have a slightly lower sugar content.
- Nectarines are slightly firmer, even when ripe.
- Nectarines keep a fresh pretty color longer than peaches, which tend to easily turn brown when exposed to oxygen. This may be due to the fact that they also have a slightly higher acidity level than peaches.
- According to Susan Brown, Ph.D., Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, nectarines have twice the amount of Vitamin A and a bit more Vitamin C.
History of nectarines
So what are nectarines and what are their origins? According to Fruitstand, "Nectarines are one of those beautiful examples of nature’s happy accidents. They first evolved through the genetic mutation of a regular peach plant in China, nearly 2,000 years ago. The chromosomal mix-up is what resulted in the nectarine’s fuzz-free existence."
Some sources say that it was 2,000 years ago, other claim the peach mutation happened over 4,000 ago. Any way you look at it, nectarines have been a beloved fruit for a long time!
2 types of nectarines
Nectarines, like peaches, come in two varieties, yellow fleshed and white fleshed with yellow being more common. Both are delicious with the white being sweeter and the yellow having more "tang".
One other thing it's important to know about is that nectarines can be "clingstone" or "freestone", referring to how easy (or difficult) the stone is to remove from the flesh. The difficult thing is, that nectarines are not labeled "cling" or "freestone" and they look identical so you won't don't know which variety they are until you get the fruit home. If you cut a nectarine in half, give it a little twist and the two sections separate easily, you've purchased freestone nectarines. On the other hand, if you do the same thing and the nectarine gets a bit mushy as you twist and the stone stays put, you've got the cling variety.
Both types will work for this nectarine jam however the way you process them will differ. With freestone fruits, simply cut around the pit, dividing the nectarine in half then give it the twist mentioned above. You can then pull out the stone that will remain attached to one half by grabbing the pointed end with your fingers and giving it a little pull.
If you discover you have cling nectarines, simply cut the fruit away from the stone, turning the fruit as you go.
Neither freestone nor cling nectarines need to be peeled for this jam. The skin is very thin and "melts" into the jam.
Let's get jamming!
Enough about nectarine facts. Let's make jam!
If you have an hour to spare, you can have a batch of this delicious nectarine jam made, the jars lining your counter like jewel-hued soldiers. You'll also have time left over to throw a piece of bread into the toaster, spread it with melting butter and add a dollop of this fabulous nectarine jam... so delicious!
Here's how it works:
- Wash, halve and remove the pit from the nectarines, then chop them with a sharp knife.
- Transfer the nectarines to a large sturdy pot, add the lemon juice, pectin and butter and give the mixture a good stir.
- Now turn the heat to medium-high and bring the fruit nectarines to a boil. You want a "rolling" boil, which means that when you stir the mixture, the boiling doesn't stop.
- Time the rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, then add the sugar and stir again.
- Now you need to bring the soon-to-be-jam to a rolling boil again.
- Set the timer for 1 more minute, keeping the mixture boiling rapidly. Stir frequently during the boiling to prevent any burning on the bottom of the pot.
- That's pretty much it! Skim any foam from the surface, grab a ladle and fill up your clean jars with this beautiful, jewel-hued Fresh Nectarine Jam!
What to do with this Fresh Nectarine Jam
- It's FABULOUS on toast, biscuits and scones.
- Serve it on vanilla ice cream for a quick, easy dessert. We like to add a few raspberries and a sprig of mint for a pretty presentation.
- Use it as a base for pizza: combine a quarter cup of jam with 2 teaspoons of grainy Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. We love topping this with shredded gouda, chicken sausage, a scatter of tiny-diced fresh nectarines and a garnish of thinly sliced fresh basil.
- Make a nectarine salad dressing; combine a rounded tablespoon of this nectarine jam, 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper and 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake and serve it over any type of greens. It's delicious with diced nectarines, diced avocado, fresh corn and toasted pine nuts.
- Give it as a gift!
Yes, give it a gift!
This Fresh Nectarine Jam makes a lovely gift for friends, family, neighbors, teachers, coworkers... anyone you want to thank or tell them you care.
We are offering a free printable label (pictured above and below) to adorn your jars. To receive a PDF for the labels, simply scroll to the bottom of this post and leave a comment in the comment section letting us know that you'd like them. We'll email the labels along with instructions on how to print them up.
The labels are also a great way to keep your jam organized whether you can it and store it in the pantry or go the refrigerator/freezer route. I love opening my freezer door and seeing pretty jars all labeled and ready for quick hostess/friend gifts.
Don't let the season slip away!
The delicious nectarine season will soon be past, making room for apples, pumpkins and squash so take advantage of it now and make a batch of this Fresh Nectarine Jam. You'll thank yourself all year long and, if you decide to give it as a gift, friends and family will be thinking fondly of you this fall and winter when the cold winds blow outside and they're enjoying this fabulous taste of summer on their toast, biscuits or scones!
Café Tips for making this Fresh Nectarine Jam
- Use a large pot to make this jam. You have to bring it to a rolling boil and you don't want the jam to boil over.
- Don't skip the lemon juice. Lemon juice enhances the flavor of the fruit but also helps with the setting process.
- This recipe calls for 4½ cups of "prepared fruit". Prepared fruit, in this case, means chopped nectarines. You'll want to purchase 3 pounds of ripe nectarines to end up with 4½ cups of chopped fruit.
- It's important when making jams and jellies to understand the terminology. One of the classic terms is to bring the fruit/sugar mixture to a "full rolling boil". This means a boil that continues to bubble furiously, even when you give it a good stir.
- Another thing that's important is to pay heed to the time that's indicated in the recipe. In this Fresh Nectarine Jam, the instructions say to allow the fruit/pectin mixture to come to a "full rolling boil", then to boil for exactly one minute. Then the sugar is added and the mixture is brought back to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Set a timer! This will ensure successful results.
- As mentioned above you can either preserve this Fresh Nectarine Jam, using a hot water bath, making it shelf-stable OR simply ladle it into jars and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
- If you chose the canning method, here is a great guide from National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- If you chose to not use a hot water bath, it's fine for the jam to sit at room temperature for several hours. The sugar in jam/jelly/marmalade recipes acts as a preservative so there's no need to worry. Just keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for longer storage.
- This recipe calls for 1 box (1.75 ounces or 49g) of powdered fruit pectin. I use SureJell. SureJell is available at most larger grocery stores and online. If you can't find it at your local grocery store, check with the front desk or manager as it's stored in different places at different stores. There are three types of SureJell, regular and low-sugar and no-sugar. You want the regular or original variety for this recipe which comes in a yellow box.
- In order to ensure success with this Nectarine Jam, don't try to alter the ingredients. Lots of people are concerned about the amount of sugar in jam and jelly recipes. 6 cups of sugar might sound like a lot but this recipe makes a lot of jam and you only eat a teaspoon or so at a time.
- Sugar is not only a sweetener but it also helps with the set of the jam and it's a preservative, as mentioned above. There are low-sugar pectins on the market and it would be better to go with a recipe specifically designed for low sugar than to try to alter this recipe.
- I often get asked if you can substitute dry and liquid pectins. The definitive answer is NO. Occasionally it will work out but generally, the proportion of fruit to sugar often varies, depending on whether the recipe calls for dry or liquid pectin. To ensure success, it's best to stick with the type of pectin that the recipe calls for.
- Measure carefully when making jam or jelly with pectin. The proportion of sugar to fruit is important and if you use more or less than what's called for, the set of the jam can be affected with the final results being too thick or too runny.
- You might be wondering why there is ½ teaspoon of butter in this jam recipe. The butter helps eliminate most of the foaming that can occur while the jam cooks.
- Many jam/jelly/marmalade recipes call for measuring the sugar into a separate bowl, then adding it to the fruit. Why? It's easy to lose track and add too much or too little and risk the results. I don't do this - but I do count out loud so I'm sure about how much sugar I'm adding.
Thought for the day:
If we live, we live for the Lord;
and if we die, we die for the Lord.
So, whether we live or die,
we belong to the Lord.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 4-½ cups prepared fruit buy about 3 pounds (1.4kg) of fully ripe nectarines
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- 1 box 1.75-ounces or 49g powdered pectin (I use SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin)
- ½ teaspoon butter or margarine
Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in a saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling jars.
Pit and finely chop nectarines. Measure exactly 4½ cups (1065ml) of prepared fruit into a large heavy-duty pot (6-8 quarts). Add lemon juice; stir.
Stir in the pectin. Add the butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring frequently.
Stir in the sugar. Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring frequently. Adjust the heat down a bit if the mixture rises too close to the top of the pot. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam on the surface with a metal spoon.
Ladle the jam immediately into prepared jars, filling to within ¼ inch of the tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly.
Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil.
Process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place them upright on a towel to cool completely. After the jars cool, check the seals by pressing the middle of the lids with a finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
Pit and finely chop nectarines. Measure exactly 4½ cups of prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Add lemon juice; stir well.
Stir in the pectin. Add the butter to reduce foaming.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within ½ inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly.
Allow the jam to set out at room temperature until completely cooled then store in the refrigeratory (or in the freezer for longer storage.)
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
This recipe makes 8 (1-cup) jars or 128 servings, 1 tablespoon each.