Lingonberry Banana Jam

This jam won Best of Show at the 2011 Marin County Fair.

I almost didn’t make this jam, because I was afraid no one would like it. Banana jam sounds really weird to a lot of people — but not to me. I’ve been secretly intrigued by the idea of putting bananas in a jam all year. When I found this recipe in a pamphlet at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension office this summer, I gave a hoot of joy.

I love roaming the hallways at the UAF cooperative extension when we’re in Fairbanks. The walls are paneled with fascinating publications that are free for the taking — or for downloading. Check out this list of great  food preservation resources, which includes a series on home canning, both water bath and pressure canning. True, they offer some things most of us will never use, like Canning Walrus in Pint Jars. And there are some things I know I’ll personally never want, like Zucchini from A to Z.

I still hate zucchini, but yes, I did put bananas and seven cups of sugar in a jam.

I like this jam so much that I will make it again next year, with modifications. I’ll make it more suitable for grown-ups by using way less sugar. (I’ll use a low-sugar pectin or try it with none at all.) And I may spice it up a bit. (Think spiced cranberry banana bread flavors in a jar.) Even as is, however, this jam has plenty of takers — a few of whom are over the age of eight. It makes a great peanut butter and lingonberry banana jam sandwich.

The lingonberries — also known as lowbush cranberries, all of which I picked and brought home from Alaska in my suitcase — do a nice job of balancing the sweet bananas. I’m pretty sure regular cranberries would work in their place.

Lingonberry Banana Jam

3 cups lingonberries
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 bananas)
7 cups sugar (I can’t type that without cringing)
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin (3 ounces)

1. Wash your jars and lids and keep them in hot water. (There’s no need to sterilize your jars, because this recipe calls for a processing time of more than 10 minutes.)

2.  Open the pectin pouch and stand it upright in a glass so it will be available for quick use when you need it.

3. Put the lingonberries and water into a nonreactive pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the mashed bananas and sugar to the lingonberries. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

5. Stir in the liquid pectin and quickly skim off the foam.

6. Immediately pour the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Clean the rims with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel if necessary, then seal the jars.

7. Process 15 minutes in a hot water bath canner.

Yields 7-8 half-pint jars.

P.S. Do you believe in signs? I was mulling over whether or not to make this strange little jam as I walked through the parking lot of the natural grocery store in town. I looked down and there were four beautiful organic bananas right there on the ground in front of  me. I laughed out loud because this recipe uses four bananas. I looked around (not furtively, I tell myself) and saw no one who might have dropped them. I decided they were a gift from the Gods of Whimsy and Delight, and tucked them into my bag. If something unusual or creative calls to you in your jam making, by all means go for it. But you might want to take a look at Marisa’s recent post at Food in Jars. It can help you decide just how wacky you can get and still stay safe.

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29 comments to Lingonberry Banana Jam

  • Denise | Chez Danisse

    Four bananas, right there before you, you had to make it. I bet it's great, you are no slouch in the taste department.

  • meg

    This sounds amazing to me! At Fortnum & Mason in London they have a Banana Curd and a Banana Jam that simply make my heart sing. I am not sure if they still have them (they didn't a few years back) but I used to make anyone going to London bring me as many jars as they could. Best sandwiches. In fact Peanut butter and banana curd sandwiches were my staple ride food when I was cycling a lot more! YUM. I'm trying this!

  • Kaytee

    I think this jam sounds delicious! Bananas sound tasty in jam. I might have to give this one a try!

  • Anna

    I love love love lingonberry jam, I just wish there was somewhere to get my hands on fresh lingonberries around here. Until that happens, I get my fill at Ikea. I've tried bananas in hot fudge with a touch of cardamom and it was good, so I'd imagine it be great in jam. Don't you just love when the universe provides ingredients? I know this is a kids book, but your comment about the gods of whimsy and delight reminded me of this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00375LK8Q/ref=oss_product. It's beautiful and also about food (go figure :D).

  • RowdysMom

    A jam with banana? You can't understand how happy I am to see this! Do you think this would work well with strawberries instead of cranberries? I don't have enough cranberries on hand.

  • Shae @ H2H

    Denise: Thank you, from one finder of signs to another.

    Meg: Banana curd sounds pretty good to me. The English do know how to make a few things! (I'm poking fun at myself — my grandma was a Londoner.) Seems like we're getting closer and closer to banana cream pie.

    Kaytee: I dare you, but only if you've got a real sweet tooth. It's really yummy.

    Anna: The book looks great. And I'm on board with the idea that a girl's heart could be won by a good grilled cheese sandwich. :-)

    RowdysMom: Hello! I believe there are a lot of recipes for strawberry banana jam out there in the world and I'm sure you could find a good one; strawberries and bananas seem like a natural pair. I would be hesitant to sub strawberries for lingonberries/cranberries in this particular recipe only because the latter are very high in pectin while the strawberries are low. Even though this recipe calls for boxed pectin, I'd hate for you to have a set failure because of incorrect proportions. If I were going to use strawberries, I'd search for a tested strawberry recipe. I'd love to know if you try it!

  • Nicole

    Shae,
    I had spotted this recipe a while back as well. I am surprised it set up so clear, all the banana jam I have seen has been very thick. Yours really is beautiful. I'm looking forward to your low sugar adaptation next year.
    -Nicole

  • Shae @ H2H

    Hi Nicole! Isn't it surprising how clear it is? The bananas almost disappear, even though their flavor is more prominent than that of the lingonberries. I think it's just that lingonberries really love to make jelly. The backlit photos definitely make the jam look clearer than when you see it under normal lighting conditions, but the look of it surprised me, too! (In a good way.)

  • Stephanie

    Ok….I ended up going out and getting more cranberries because I HAD to try this! My bananas can be seen so maybe I didn't mash as well but it turned out fantastic! Thanks for the great recipe. I will someday make strawberry banana jam though….it just sounds heavenly!

  • Shae @ H2H

    Stephanie . . . wait, were you RowdysMom just this morning? I'm thrilled to hear that you made this and love it. You also confirmed that it works well with true cranberries as well as lingonberries, so thanks for that. The different texture could indeed be mashing technique (mine were mashed until very smooth and soft) or perhaps even something different in the lingonberries v. cranberries, but I love mine and you love yours so that's 100% good. If you make it, come back and let me know about strawbanana!

  • Stephanie

    Yes…I realized I didn't change my name when I left the first comment…LOL! Thanks for the great site!

  • mothersweden

    This looks incredible! I live in Sweden and can get lingonberries all year round, (frozen, but still!) I am definitely going to make this, but I think I’ll cut the sugar in half. Thank you.

    • Shae

      Lucky you, living in one of the few places where lingonberries are regularly available — and it’s great to hear from someone living in Sweden! I want to do a reduced-sugar version, too, but remember that if you cut the sugar in this recipe you’ll need to use a low/no-sugar pectin or make it without any added pectin and cook it down. If you used the same type and amount of pectin I did and simply cut the sugar in half, it wouldn’t set properly.

  • Don’t you love it when the Gods of Whimsy and Delight come to visit ?!!

    • Shae

      I do, Rosemary, I do! Especially when they return again bearing Best of Show ribbons. :-)

  • Margy

    I had a similar experience with bananas last January. A friend was given a box full of bananas and she began gifting them. I took home a couple of bunches thinking of making dried slices. Instead I found a “Caribbean Jam” recipe to use the coconut I had on the counter. Add Mango and sugar and voila! It was very yummy, and unique.

    • Shae

      Margy, isn’t that funny? Sometimes the best things happen with “surprise” fruit. I know someone who makes a wonderful banana-ginger jam, though it’s not for the water bath, just for the fridge. That would probably be awesome with mango, too.

  • Jennifer

    Yay for the jam! But, I would like to further comment on the coolness of your photo. The spoon can’t really be seen except for its reflection in the glass of the jam jar. Love this!

  • This sounds amazing! I’ve made a pineapple banana jam that is to die for and also a blueberry banana jam that is super yummy! But this is so next on my list. But using cranberries…

    • Shae

      KK: If you like bananas in jam, I’m sure you’ll like this one. Blueberry banana sounds excellent. And I was just wondering about banana plum . . .

  • My mom and aunts make banana jam all the time in Kerala where bananas are really abundant, they practically grow out of your ears! Love it and the naturally red colour :) Yours looks soo gorgeous! Nice to meet you and your wonderful blog!

  • Elizabeth

    Just had a gallon of lingonberries (we call them partridgeberries)gifted to me — did you ever play around with this recipe? Although they seen particularly tart this year, I shudder at that much sugar! Would love to try them with bananas instead of the traditional (in-Newfoundland, anyway) apples.

    • Shae

      Elizabeth: I love that they are called partridgeberries where you are. I have never heard that before. So far this fall, I haven’t made this recipe or a variation of it, though I have been thinking about it. I brought my lingonberries home from Alaska and they went into the freezer straight away while I’m working through apples and such. I still think it would be possible to make a variation without pectin and with greatly reduced sugar, because the berries have so much natural pectin. At the same time, because this jam — as is — won Best in Show at the county fair this year and because people have been asking me for more, I’m sure to repeat this high-sugar fest as well. :-)

  • Audrey

    I made this last weekend and it turned out great. I used apple bananas instead of regular bananas and its so yummy. Thank you!

    • Shae

      Audrey: I’m so glad it turned out well for you, too. I don’t know anything about apple bananas. I had to look them up! (I’ll be sure to try one at the first opportunity.) I’d love to know whether you used lingonberries or regular cranberries. I’m still waiting to hear from someone who tries the latter.

      • Audrey

        I just used cranberries. I’m in Hawaii and could only get cranberries. But Ill keep my eyes peeled.

        • Shae

          I’m so glad you came back and told me. I’ve been wanting confirmation that this recipe would work nicely with regular cranberries, so thank you for that. Knowing that you are in Hawaii makes the apple bananas clearer. We rarely have them here, though I think I might have an easier time finding apple bananas than you would finding lingonberries. They’re a far-north phenomenon, though if you know anyone heading to Alaska or Sweden in early fall, they do travel well. :-)

        • I have two Pineapple quince trees that I plteand 17 to 18 years ago.The quince was once a very common garden tree, so you might check with owners of old houses (especially farmhouses) in your area. Also, organizations that connect farmers to local consumers are rising up around the country. If you can find a website for such an organization in your area, you may be able to locate somebody with a quince tree, or a whole quince orchard, in no time at all.