One switch that I was glad that I made was going from jelly to making my own. While jelly within itself is still a minimal amount of calories, there’s no nutritional value to it because of the high fructose corn syrup and, well… the fact that there’s no actual fruit in it. Seriously, I buy grape jelly all the time and it always dawns on me that it doesn’t taste anything like any grape I’ve ever bit into.

Having said that, I set out to buy my own berries and make my own jam. Is it pricier? It depends on your options. I was already buying jelly AND fresh blueberries (my daughter likes them in her cheerios) so for me, I saved money. Make the jam with my blueberries, and give her a small dollop of it in the center of her cereal. Not only that, but because my jam is made of actual food, my body doesn’t hunger for as much of it as I can slather onto the bread like it would with some commercial jams. Win on both counts.

Oh, and to the question of can you use frozen blueberries? This should answer that:

Not only do I use frozen, but I use generic. They were $3 on sale. Total win.

What will you need? Lemon juice, berries of choice, and sugar (). I’ve made blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, cherry, apples… you name it, you can probably jam it. If you’re like me, you keep lemon juice in the house anyhow as a base for cooking (hint, hint). A $2 bottle goes a long way. As far as the sugar goes, the more organic, the better – not “sugar-in-the-raw”-organic, but organic as in organic cane sugar. I’m not going to even do this like most recipes, because it’s that simple.

Get yourself a nice saucepan. Not too much larger than your berries – you can see how much/how many I had in my pan. Pour about 1/4th of a cup of lemon juice into your skillet, and let it simmer on moderate heat. Dump your berries – assuming you have about 3-4 cups of berries – into your pot, and let it cook for about a half an hour. Keep checking on it to make sure you’re not frying your berries. Trust me, it’ll taste foul if you do.

You should see the berries juicing themselves – lots of gooey goodness oozing out and creating their own little sauce. Give it a good stir to make sure you’re not burning anything, and start mashing. You can use the back of a wooden spoon, a potato masher, the bottom of a glass, whatever – just start mashing.

You won’t get an even consistency like you might with a jar of jelly bought from the grocery because – remember – there’s no actual fruit in there. It’ll be lumpy. It might even taste tart at first because of the lemon juice, but that’s ok. You still have to add the sugar. Once your berries are good and mashed to your liking, grab your sugar and get to work.

Add the sugar 1/4th of a cup at a time, stirring and tasting after every addition. I don’t like mine too sweet, because it reminds me of “grape” jelly and makes me nauseous, so I never need more than a third of a cup of sugar. Not only that, but knowing what I’m putting in my jelly, I don’t want to have to eat those calories and then be responsible for burning those calories. (This is why picking nice flavorful berries is important. Enjoy the flavor of the fruit – don’t overdo it on the sugar.)

If you’re feeling jazzy, there are a few finishing touches you can add. I dropped a scoop of flaxseed in my raspberry jelly. I took my blackberry jam and made a nice vinaigrette with it. With my apple jam, I added cloves and nutmeg to it. Get yourself a nice jar, and pour your finished jam into it. Give it some time to cool down, then refridgerate it.. and you’re done!