Best Banana Jam Recipe - How to Make Banana Preserve Jelly


Banana Jam

November  5, 2020
6 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

When you hear jam, you probably imagine all the berries—strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries—and other sunny friends, like figs and peaches. Eventually, as pool days make way for school days, apple jellies and pear preserves start bubbling on stoves. Come winter, there’s less to do. Orange marmalade, sure—but have you ever made orange marmalade? Talk about a ton of work. What about a jam that feels right for winter, but doesn’t consider itself a weekend project? You know, a low-key jam.

I never thought to turn bananas into jam, probably because they’re turned into just about everything else. Like bread. Or fritters. Or cake. Or pudding. Or cookies. Or ice cream. Or milkshakes. Or daiquiris! Turns out, jam is just about the easiest thing you can do with overripe bananas. I scrolled by the idea on Instagram, casually mentioned alongside chocolatey peanut butter.

What the what? I followed the trail to Stagg Jam & Marmalade:

"Literally jam-packed with ripe bananas and real vanilla bean. Vanilla bean brings a mellowness to round out the boldness of sweet bananas to create this simple but super addictive jam. Peanut butter hasn’t seen something this fabulous since chocolate."

Sold! Now, let’s recreate it at home. I bopped around websites and flipped through some cookbooks, and one thing became clear: People want me to commit to this jam more than I want to commit. (Do I have jam commitment issues? Is this a thing? A bad thing?) In 1986, Florence Fabricant published a recipe in the New York Times that tells you to make a big batch of simple syrup, then cook bananas in that for up to 45 minutes. This aligned with other banana recipes I found. It also goes against all jam theory I’ve been taught: Cook the fruit for as little time as it takes to release pectin and thicken; this way, its natural brightness is preserved and the sugar doesn’t start to caramelize, a flavor that would overpower everything else.

In this recipe, I drew upon that let-it-be mentality: Peel bananas and roughly break them up so they fit into a pot. Add white and brown sugar and mash until the sugar turns syrupy. Set over medium-low heat and add a splash of water, lime juice, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until a spoon starts to leave a trail in the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in dark rum and vanilla extract. Done.

This jam wants, very much, to be stirred into oatmeal. Or dolloped on honey-drizzled yogurt. Or slathered on peanut butter– or tahini-smothered toast. Or spread on—wait for it—banana bread. Or is that just too bananas? —Emma Laperruque

  • Makes 3 cups
  • 6 large bananas (22 to 24 ounces, post-peeling), broken in half
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe
  1. Combine the bananas and sugars in a medium pot. Mash with a fork until the fruit is chunky and the sugar syrupy. Set over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Add the lime juice, water, and salt. Continue to cook at a steady simmer—stirring occasionally—for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and vanilla.
  2. Spoon the hot jam into jars. I just seal with a lid and keep in the fridge—but sterilize if you'd like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Michelle Hughes
    Michelle Hughes
  • April Gresham
    April Gresham
  • Mariam
  • Alicia Nicole Pearson
    Alicia Nicole Pearson
  • AmyEverAfter
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

    53 Reviews

    Michelle H. December 13, 2020
    Hi just making this today. How long will it last please x
    I.jian November 6, 2020
    Very exited to try this recipe! Can I make this without lime juice?
    April G. November 2, 2020
    Very excited to try this recipe! Can I can this with a water bath for storage? Hoping to use this for gifts during the holiday season!
    Zeldaz November 3, 2020
    No, sorry, but bananas are not acidic enough and, despite the added fresh lime juice, it must be considered unsafe for canning as written, unless it is tested for safety. Fresh lime or lemon juice is only used for flavor, as the acidity level and the amount of juice one fruit yields varies greatly. Tested recipes rely on bottled citrus juices made from concentrates, because the acidity level is uniform by law in the U.S. I would not risk canning this and would freeze it.
    Ann C. July 7, 2020
    Can I use frozen bananas?
    Author Comment
    Emma L. July 7, 2020
    Hi Ann! Please see my reply to Jennifer below.
    Kehaulani K. July 6, 2020
    Love this recipe didn’t have dark rum so used amaretto. It was delicious. Mahalo!
    DiaK May 27, 2020
    Would it matter if I leave out the rum?
    Author Comment
    Emma L. May 28, 2020
    Hi! You can leave out the rum, but you might want to increase the vanilla extract to taste.
    DiaK May 28, 2020
    Thank you 😊
    Mariam September 18, 2019
    Hi, Emma
    I want to tell you that I have made a small jar of your recipe.
    I used two medium bananas - They were sleeping in my freezer for a while so they got darker and of course sweetener -
    I put them in a small pan on a medium heat, kept stirring for a while, then I added a pinch of salt and a quarter teaspoon of vanilla.
    After that I added two teaspoons of chia seeds and then turned the heat off, and finally I squeezed some lemon juice, about half teaspoon.
    The result is fantastic, the consistency is creamy and rich - I couldn't imagine that I didn't add any sweetener - not even maple syrup or honey.
    Now I can spread this heaven on my toast with a generous amount of my homemade peanut butter.
    Thanks a lot and always wish you the best.
    Author Comment
    Emma L. September 19, 2019
    Hey Mariam—thanks for reporting back! So cool to hear that the chia seeds worked well.
    Mariam September 8, 2019
    Sounds yummy, Emma. I think it will be perfect when crowned on a generous spread of peanut butter; my favourite butter, and yours too :D
    But I wonder if I can make a healthy version of this jam, I am thinking of honey as a sweetener and Chia seeds to enhance the consistency of the jam. So what do you think?
    Thanks in advance.
    Author Comment
    Emma L. September 8, 2019
    Hi Mariam! If you want to cut out the sugar, chia seeds and some honey to taste could be a good way to do it (I bet maple syrup would be nice, too). Here's an article I wrote about chia seed jam that could help with the ratio: If you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
    Mariam September 8, 2019
    Many thanks, Emma. I will definitely read the article and give the recipe a go and of course I will tell you how it goes.
    Alicia N. August 19, 2019
    I made this banana jam! The only thing I did differently was I added a pinch of cinnamon and instead of rum I used 1 teaspoon of rum extract. It turned out wonderful and tastes amazing!!
    Author Comment
    Emma L. August 19, 2019
    Thanks, Alicia—so glad you made and enjoyed it!
    AmyEverAfter January 2, 2019
    I made this today, and while it was absolutely delicious, it never reached a consistency anything like jam. I'm wondering if the water can be omitted, or if I should just keep cooking it until it's as thick as I would like it? It did thicken a bit while cooking, as the directions said, but even after cooling completely it was more like a banana sauce, not spreadable. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Author Comment
    Emma L. January 2, 2019
    Hey there! It sounds like it needed to be cooked longer; you could probably cook it again now, until it reaches the thickness you want. Hope this helps!
    S. M. January 13, 2019
    I skipped the water and it turned out great. Perfect consistency and so delicious.
    Zeldaz July 27, 2018
    Bananas are NOT safe to can. Freeze it to avoid the possibility of botulism.
    Happycanning February 26, 2018
    I made this recipe today. Think I will decrease the sugar a little next time as my bananas were nicely ripe. Is there a volume to the lime juice? I had a small and large lime, so I used all the small lime and half of the large lime. I could definitely taste it in the final product. I did can it. Just do the water bath method - 15 minutes. Let it rest in the hot water for 5 minutes with lid off, and take it out. All jars sealed for me. Thanks for the recipe!
    Author Comment
    Emma L. February 26, 2018
    Hi Happycanning—about 1/4 cup lime juice, but you can replace some of this with water if you want it less citrusy.
    Winness February 19, 2018
    I would suggest using vanilla, hazelnut, coconut, or maple extract (one teaspoon, not tablespoon) in place of rum if there is a concern. Thank you for this recipe! Any chance you have one for coconut butter? A bit of that on an English muffin with pineapple jam would be exquisite.
    Author Comment
    Emma L. February 20, 2018
    Hi Cuocopazzo—I don't currently have a recipe for coconut butter but that does sound like an amazing combo!
    Winness February 20, 2018
    I had it on vacation in the Caribbean. It looked like lemon curd, smooth, yellow, and creamy, both luscious and addictive. I think I'll try this recipe (fyi):
    ibi February 17, 2018
    Way too much sugar....!
    Ripe bananas are already very sweet so I’d only add a tad of white sugar albeit none at all
    ustabahippie February 16, 2018
    I think I’d make this with dead ripe bananas and cut the sugar to a dab of brown, make a very small batch and eat it right up. Otherwise it looks fabulous.
    ustabahippie July 6, 2020
    Could you heat the rum and cook off the alcohol just to get the flavor?
    Dayna W. February 16, 2018
    Is there a substitute for the rum other than the artificial flavoring (blech). I want to share this with children.
    Author Comment
    Emma L. February 18, 2018
    Hi Dayna, just omit it!
    Bonniesue February 16, 2018
    Is the sugar there to help preserve it and make it a jam, or for other reasons? I've often just mashed a banana on my toast and peanut butter and it's yummy.
    Author Comment
    Emma L. February 18, 2018
    Hi Bonniesue, I like mashing bananas on toast, too! The sugar is key to creating a jam. Depending on your bananas' ripeness, you can slightly lower it to taste.
    Kathy M. February 16, 2018
    I am a new cook - 49 years old but better late then never. How would you store this and for how long is it's shelf life?
    Author Comment
    Emma L. February 18, 2018
    Hi Kathy, definitely better late than never! I didn't can/sterilize my jar—just capped and refrigerated it. It's still good over a month later!
    Janet M. February 16, 2018
    Wow--perfect for using those bags of ripe and overripe bananas on sale in the supermarket. And for folks who don't have rum in the cupboard, there is perfectly nice rum extract in the spice isle of any supermarket--I'm planning to go with the real thing!
    Brenda S. February 16, 2018
    I find the rum extract leaves a chemical-y aftertaste - bourbon [my favorite], brandy, whiskey would all work in place of rum or just omit.
    Meagan N. February 16, 2018
    Can I omit the rum if I don’t have any?
    Author Comment
    Emma L. February 18, 2018
    Yes! You can omit completely—or replace with bourbon if you have that around.