Make Store-Bought Jam Taste Homemade With Just Two Simple Ingredients

Homemade jam is one of the simple pleasures of a kitchen. Mixing some fresh fruit in a saucepan with a bit of sugar and lemon juice — even in its most basic form, it satisfies and remains a perfect companion for a piece of toast. While the sweet concoction is typically easy to make, only needing a few minutes to bubble on the stovetop, time is not always on your side. And some days, you just need to take shortcuts in the kitchen.

There's no shame in it. Even if homemade sauces and spreads can be a unique way to personalize a meal, preparing an entrée is often enough to tackle as is. So, when you don't have enough time to whip up fresh blackberry jam with your homemade bread, heading to the nearest grocery store for a jar of something store-bought is usually in the cards. And if you can make that store-bought jam taste homemade with just two simple ingredients, why not?

The case for pre-made jams

Whether pre-packaged or homemade, jams and jellies have the potential to be problematic, but homemade versions are especially finicky. What can go wrong? Often issues arise with these spreads because of their sweetness levels. Using too much sugar is easy, thanks to the natural sweetness of the fruit. Taste aside, textures can also be all over the place. Sugar crystals can form inside jelly if you keep the mixture on the stove too long. Spreads can also become too thin and watery if you use too much fruit juice or coagulated and thick if you leave it cooking on high. It can be tough to get the texture and taste of jam exactly right — even if the ingredient list is short.

While pre-made jams have their own issues, quality control is much easier here. It may be hard to know the quality of ingredients used in mass-produced jams, but you can trust it'll be consistent. For those days you want to avoid messing with the fragile nature of homemade jam, we recommend having a jar of your favorite brand of jam on hand. Despite the difference in quality, it's relatively simple to trick your guests into thinking this jam off the grocery store shelf is homemade. All you need is two ingredients: salt and lemon. Whether you're buying pre-made jam or jelly (and yes, there is a difference), these two simple additions can trick your guests into thinking it's all been made at home.

How to pump up your jam

If you want the taste of homemade jam without all the work, you'll just need some salt and lemon to make it happen. Let's break down how these two additions can make your pre-made jam sing. 

First, let's talk about salt. This seasoning is already a popular addition to sweet foods, enhancing those flavors because of the stark contrast in taste the mineral provides. (This is why flavors like salted-caramel work so well — the saltiness enhances the sweetness.)

Even just a pinch of salt in your store-bought jam will do the trick, bringing balance to overly syrupy spreads and enhancing the flavor of your jelly overall. Now, the lemon juice. This ingredient is essential because it lowers the pH of jam, making for a much better texture as it molds all the elements together, and it also brings a hint of brightness to the flavor as a whole.

And that's all there is to it. There's little a pinch of salt or squirt of lemon juice can't fix. Add these to your store-bought jam to taste; no one will ever guess you bought it from Costco.