The fruit of the autumn olive
[The autumn olive, Elaeagnus umbellata, is a beautiful shrub or small tree with fragrant flowers in the spring and abundant fruit in the fall. No relation to the true olive, it’s native to eastern Asia. Since it can fix atmospheric nitrogen it can grow where little else will, and highway departments and land managers all over the United States gladly planted it along roadsides and “waste ground” to beautify the landscape, prevent erosion, provide windbreaks and feed wild birds. It does all of these things but that last is the problem: birds have spread it far beyond its intended space and it’s now an invasive pest, crowding out native plants wherever it grows. Unlike most of the growing army of invasive alien species, autumn olive has delicious fruit that look like ¼-inch red berries but are actually drupes, each with a single small pit. They’re readily recognizable because the berries are covered with tiny gold or silver speckles. Besides tasting good, they’re a particularly rich source of the antioxidant lycopene (17 times as much as tomatoes).]
makes a very tasty jam, reminiscent of currents and cranberries with a distinctive touch of tannin. Particulary delightful on a toasted, buttered English muffin on a cold winter’s day.

  • A batch of autumn olive puree, say about 5 cups (from about 8 cups of cleaned fruit). This will make between 6 and 7 cups of jam. If you have more or less, adjust the other ingredients proportionally.

  • 3½ cups sugar (or 70% of the puree amount by volume)

  • 1 “unit” of pectin
    [I use “Ball® Real Fruit® Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin” which says “3 Tbsp of this pectin = 1 box of pectin.”]

  1. Place glass jars and lids into water bath canning vessel, cover with water and bring to a boil. Keep it simmering while you prepare the jam.

  2. Take ¼ cup of the sugar and mix it with the pectin.

  3. Add the pectin-sugar mix to the puree and bring it to a rolling boil.

  4. Add the rest of the sugar, bring it to a boil again, then let it boil for 1 minute.

  5. For each jar in the canner, until you run out of jam:

    1. Take a jar out (pouring its water back into the canner), place it on a heat-proof surface like a cooling rack or a trivet, and ladle hot jam into it. Your canning equipment probably includes a funnel, which will also indicate the proper (¼ inch) headspace to leave at the top.

    2. Take a lid from the water bath (a magnetic lid-lifter helps) and carefully place it on the jar, then screw on a band, finger-tight.

    3. Place the jar back into the water bath.

  6. Ensuring that the jars are covered by 1 or 2 inches of water (add more from a kettle if needed), bring it all back to a steady boil.

  7. Process the jars for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them stand for 5 minutes.

  8. Remove the jars and let them cool. You’ll hear a snapping sound as each lid gets pulled down tight. When they’re cool enough, check each lid to make sure it doesn’t flex up and down. If it does, reprocess its contents or eat them soon.


This recipe for autumn olive jam is adapted from the original by “Leslie” at but includes the canning process which she assumes we all know by heart.