Sep 27

Recipe: Autumn Olive Jam

Today’s recipe comes from guest contributor Rachel Hesselink.  As an undergraduate at Calvin College, Rachel studied the competitiveness of  invasive autumn olive in Michigan.  Now a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, Rachel studies the impacts of global change on salt marsh ecosystems.


  • Approximately 3 cups fresh autumn olives (berries)
  • 3 Tbsp pectin
  • 2.5 cups sugar
1.  Mash berries in a medium sauce pan along with pectin and a small splash of water
2.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently

Autumn olive jam on the stove, ready to boil!

3.  Stir in sugar, then return to a boil, again stirring frequently
4.  Still stirring, boil for an additional minute or two
5.  Cool and enjoy.  Jam will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator, or longer if properly canned.

Yum! Fresh autumn olive jam on bread.



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  1. justin thomas

    Those berries look suspiciously like Bush/Amur Honeysuckle. In fact, as a botanist, I pretty much guarantee they are. Autumn Olive berries are not red or juicy. You might look into the matter before someone gets sick.

    1. Matthew

      Elaeagnus umbellata, which we refer to as autumn olive, goes by many common names including Japanese silverberry, autumn berry, and many others. The berries are in fact bright red with flecks of silver, juicy, delicious, and safe- check out our species profile (http://invasivore.org/2011/07/species-profile-autumn-olive/) for more identifying characteristics.

      You do bring up an important point that invasivores should always remember- never eat anything unless you are 100% sure of its identity as well as the local history (pesticide use, pollution, etc) of the harvest site!

  2. harvey

    1) TOXICITY : I have to same doubts as Justin. Please, do not pick up the berries if you cannot distinguish plants with opposite leaves from plants with alternate leaves, You may take by mistake toxic bush honeysuckle/Lonicera mackii. I have even seen the 2 plants side by side, with intertwined branches. Another point : autumn olives have lots of annoying small seeds that have to be removed after some cooking. If you did no go through this labor-intensive straining part, you probably don’t have the correct plant. I now use a good-quality manual vegetable mill with a fine grid; The job is done a fraction of the time.
    2) PRESERVES : If you are going to all this trouble, it is not much more difficult to sterilize them. (a) Place empty jars and lids 15 minutes in boiling water; (b) fill with jam, close, but not tightly, (c)place in boiling water for 25 minutes, (d) take out (it is hot), close tightly. They stay fine for one year; after that, clear juice comes to the surface.
    3) PECTIN: berries already have plenty of natural pectin. No need to buy pectin.

    We make 6-16 jars every year.

  3. Alecia

    The way to identify autumn olive is by the silver flecks on the bark, leaves and berries. They are not hard to identify if you know what to look for. I don’t know how you can “guarantee” what they are based off of a picture of mashed up berries. Autumn olive berries do have a rather large seed which I will probably strain out if I make some jam. I don’t mind eating the seed and all when munching them off our trees though.

  4. laurene

    I beg to differ with the gentleman who said those are not autum olive berries. I had our bushes confirmed by the OSU extension office and they look exactly like the picture above. I ran mine through a food mill and used my jelly strained to further extract the juice. I made jam with my ball fersh tech jammer pot .

  5. nancy

    I have a 30+ year old olive tree in my yard, which I did not plant! In the last weel or so, I have purple/black fruit falling off the tree, about the size of a medium size olive., with a med/large pit. Some are very juicy and red wine color, and shining skin. I wonder if the fruit is of autumn variety and edible. The leaf approx 2 in long silvery yellow underneth, and dark green on top. The bark is very dry/ peeling and med brown.
    Please help?

  6. nancy

    trying to identify an olive tree in my yard. Grown in Southern california, 30years+
    Dark green top of leaf, underneath yel/silver underneath. The berry that is dropping is dark purple, shiny, medium in size, and has a large pit. the bark of tree is medium brown and very dry and peeling.
    Can you help?

  7. Halle

    Pectin in jam has a great effect on its thickness. There are numerous health benefits to it as well.

  1. Species Profile: Autumn olive | Invasivore.org

    […] recipes featuring the tasty fruit of this invasive plant, check out our autumn olive jam!*** share: Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with […]

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    […] 1 egg, beaten (egg wash) flaked coconut Autumn Olive jam […]

  3. Invasivore: One Who Consumes Invasive Species | awkward botany

    […] in their areas. Some of the invasive plant species they recommend people eat are Autumn Olive (Autumn Olive Jam), garlic mustard (Garlic Mustard Ice Cream), Japanese honeysuckle (Honeysuckly Simple Syrup), […]

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    […] berries before the birds get them, these tart fruits can be used like most other berries in pies, jams, and chutneys.  And as always, if you come up with a good invasivore recipe for leatherleaf […]

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