Have you ever tried marionberries? Oregon marionberries are also known as the "Cabernet of blackberries," due to their deliciously complex flavor. In this marionberry jam recipe, I'm mashing these berries into a low sugar chia jam. With its rich flavor and gorgeous purple color, you'll want to put this fresh jam on EVERYTHING. No pectin is needed to make this easy spreadable fruit!
I love sharing food finds with my email subscribers because I think it is AWESOME to try new foods. Trying to find a new-to-me fruit or veggie to sample each week has been one way I keep my own diet interesting. Believe it or not, I can still find new produce to try, even after several years of this practice.
I tried marionberries for the first time quite recently, and this marionberry jam recipe is one result of that experience. This jam recipe uses no pectin and is rather straightforward. I prefer to keep my recipes really simple when I try a new food so I can really taste the food.
In fact, if I had managed to acquire fresh rather than frozen marionberries, I probably would have snacked on them as is. I'd only consider adding them to more complex recipes (such as a marionberry crumble) after becoming familiar with their flavor.
In short, this simple jam recipe is all about using a bounty of berries! Your results will vary depending on the quality of marionberries that you start with.
I'm going to tell you where to get marionberries in the FAQs below. Even if you don't live in Oregon (home of the marionberry), you can still enjoy this marionberry jam recipe. With frozen berries, you can enjoy the best part of summer all year long.
- What is a Marionberry?
- Marionberry vs. Blackberry: What's the Difference?
- What is the difference between a boysenberry and a marionberry?
- Benefits of Making Marionberry Jam
- Oregon Marionberry Jam Ingredients
- How to Make Marionberry Jam
- How to Make Seedless Marionberry Jam without Pectin
- Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- Recipes Using Marionberries or Marionberry Jam
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Berry Recipes That You May Enjoy
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
What is a Marionberry?
The marionberry, AKA the "Marion blackberry," is a specific cultivar of blackberry developed in Oregon. Marionberries are a cross between Olallieberries and Chehalem blackberries. The berry was named after Marion County, Oregon, the region where it was extensively tested.
Marionberries are still largely grown in Marion County and surrounding areas, and most of the crop is eaten by Oregonians. This is why you may not have heard of the marionberry if you live in another part of the world. Oregon marionberries have a relatively short growing season in Portland and other parts of Oregon.
Marionberry vs. Blackberry: What's the Difference?
The marionberry IS a type of blackberry, though it may taste different than the blackberries you are used to. You may substitute regular frozen blackberries for marionberries in recipes. If you want to make this a regular blackberry jam recipe (without pectin), that will work.
Like other blackberries, marionberries are not seedless.
What is the difference between a boysenberry and a marionberry?
Boysenberries are larger than marionberries. Boysenberries are a combination of blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries. The marionberry is a combination of blackberry and olallieberry.
Benefits of Making Marionberry Jam
Berries are so sweet and delicious that they hardly need promotion of their good attributes. Let's be honest… even those who dislike most fruits and vegetables tend to like berries!
Aside from tasting good, this recipe for marionberry jam comes with other advantages. Check them out:
- Low calorie recipe: This jam manages low-calorie and weight watchers friendly. That’s because this blackberry jam is low sugar, and fresh marionberries are only 80 calories per cup. It’s also naturally gluten free. You can make vegan jam that’s low carb by omitting the honey.
- Only requires four ingredients: Once you have the marionberries, little else is needed. We're keeping things simple!
- No pectin jam: I don't make jam often, so I don't typically keep pectin on hand. With this Oregon marionberry jam recipe, I don't need to buy pectin that I'm just going to use here.
- Low sugar recipe: This marionberry jam is low in refined sugar. The sugars in this recipe are the ones that are naturally present in the fruit and a touch of honey.
- Packed with phytonutrients and fiber: Berries, including marionberries, are some of the most phytonutrient-rich and fiber-filled foods around. If you’re looking to increase your intake of these health-promoting food components, marionberries are a fantastic choice.
- A fun way to try a new food: If you live outside of Oregon, it's likely you've never tried marionberries. With this simple recipe and my tips on buying marionberries outside of Oregon (see below), you can try this new-to-you fruit.
- Makes a great gift: The holiday season will be here before too long. I think some homemade marionberry jam in pretty canning jars would make a lovely gift. (Just make sure to keep the homemade jam refrigerated or frozen, since it’s not canned.)
Oregon Marionberry Jam Ingredients
Here's the roundup of what you need to make this marionberry fruit spread:
The chia seeds are our secret ingredient to get the jam to thicken well without pectin. Between the marionberry seeds and the chia seeds, this berry spread has a lot of texture! This jam is seedy in the best possible way. Haha
Lemon juice is a common ingredient in jam recipes. However, I prefer orange juice for the touch of sweetness it provides. If you are squeezing oranges for orange juice, it is helpful to have a manual citrus juicer.
Another piece of equipment that I like to have to make marionberry jam is a hand potato masher. A masher will make quick work of mashing up the marionberries while leaving some texture in your jam. Check out my recipe video below to see how it all went down.
I use OXO's potato masher, and it has held up well through the years. If you don't have a hand masher, a fork is sufficient to mash the thawed frozen berries. However, using a fork will take a bit longer.
How to Make Marionberry Jam
This blackberry jam with no sugar uses frozen berries because they break down really easily when thawed. To begin, put the frozen blackberries in a medium saucepan over medium heat on the stovetop.
Heat the fruit for 5-10 minutes, allowing it to break down. Give it a stir occasionally. When the marionberries have warmed and become very mushy, turn off the heat.
Using a potato masher (or possibly a fork), mash the berries to the desired consistency. I like to make my jam pretty smooth; there will still be plenty of texture from the seeds.
After mashing, stir in the fresh orange juice, honey, and chia seeds. Let your jam stand until it has cooled and thickened. Then put the jam into a glass jar (or jars) and refrigerate it overnight.
In the morning, you'll be ready to use your fresh Oregon marionberry jam! Any jam that you will not use in 3-4 days should be stored in a freezer-safe container in the freezer. Your marionberry freezer jam will stay fresh for months, ready to defrost whenever a craving strikes.
By the way, I've been calling this a "jam," but it is really more like a thick marionberry fruit spread. Whatever you want to call it, I hope that you enjoy it!
How to Make Seedless Marionberry Jam without Pectin
I experimented with making marionberry jam seedless by straining the fruit through cheesecloth after heating. You could also use a food mill to get a smooth marionberry puree. I don’t recommend making strained jam for several reasons:
- Food waste: You end up wasting a lot of fruit pulp with strained jam. Your overall yield of marionberry jam ends up being much less than unstrained jam.
- Less nutritious: There are phytonutrients and fiber in that fruit that gets strained out. Why not keep your jam more nutrient-dense?
- More work: Making strained marionberry jam (AKA marionberry jelly) is more work. You’ll be dirtying your food mill or reusable cheesecloth, requiring additional clean up. Save time in the kitchen by making jam with whole mashed marionberries.
- Still seedy: Since this is a no pectin marionberry jam thickened with chia seeds, the finished jam will still have seeds. You will likely need to add a lot more chia seeds to thicken strained marionberry juice versus whole mashed fruit.
- Runny jam: The strained jam was far runnier than jam with marionberry pulp. The texture wasn’t as good and it didn’t have a nice spreadable consistency.
I hope I’ve convinced you to skip trying to make marionberry jam seedless. If you do try it and don’t like it, you can always use the marionberry syrup in smoothies or to sweeten yogurt. (That’s what I did!)
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Berries are a low-calorie food that fit most of the dietary patterns that are used for weight loss. (This includes low carb and keto diets.) You can use this low sugar marionberry jam as an easy way to add fruit to a variety of dishes.
How well this food ultimately fits if you are looking to lose weight depends on what it is served with. Try putting it on high-protein, low-fat Greek yogurt for a lower calorie, satiating dish.
For a higher energy (i.e., higher-calorie) meal, you could serve this jam in a sandwich that is thickly spread with nut butter. Use whole grain bread for a higher fiber meal. I have more ideas for using marionberry jam in different ways in this article.
If you are accustomed to foods being heavily sweetened, this low sugar jam may not be sweet enough for you. In that case, you could add your favorite non-nutritive sweetener, maple syrup or more honey. Please keep in mind that using more sweetener will alter the nutritional information for the recipe.
Added sugars, including natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, pack a lot of calories into a small volume. IMVHO, it is better to skip the additional sweeteners and make a sugar free marionberry jam. I have made this marionberry jam without honey and enjoyed it, but I know that’s not for everyone.
Recipes Using Marionberries or Marionberry Jam
You can substitute marionberries for regular blackberries in any recipe that you wish! Here are a few marionberry recipes to get you started:
- Summer Berry Salad (use fresh marionberries in place of the blackberries)
- Banana Split Fruit and Yogurt Bowls (again, substitute the fresh blackberries for marionberries)
But how to use marionberry jam? IMVHO, these seed-packed, richly flavored marionberry preserves would make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I think a marionberry pb&j would definitely have me looking forward to lunch!
Another idea (and equally simple) is to serve marionberry jam over your favorite yogurt, maybe with some granola and almond butter. Because I try to limit my added sugar intake, I enjoy this jam on plain Greek yogurt or skyr. It would also be great over certain flavored yogurts, such as lemon, orange, or vanilla yogurt.
To incorporate this marionberry jam recipe into a complete breakfast, you could use it in overnight oats. Try these Overnight Oats with Frozen Fruit with marionberry chia jam in place of the blueberry chia jam in the recipe.
For a more dessert-like breakfast, you could use this recipe as a marionberry compote and serve it with waffles or pancakes. Add some whipped cream and maple syrup (use sugar-free versions, if desired) and sprinkle a little orange zest on top. SO GOOD!
Frequently Asked Questions
When are marionberries in season?
Oregon Marion berry season typically runs from mid-July to mid-August. These two months are the best time to snag some fresh Marion berries if you are in Oregon. Lucky for us, frozen Marion berries can be enjoyed throughout the year and across the country!
What do marionberries taste like?
Marionberries are absolutely DELICIOUS.
I think that marionberries have a more complex, richer flavor than your standard grocery store blackberry. This may be why marionberries have been dubbed both the "King of Blackberries" and the "Cabernet of Blackberries." They are both tart and sweet and have a slightly firmer texture than regular blackberries.
Where to Buy Marionberries (if you don't live in Oregon)
You can purchase local marionberries fresh or frozen in some of the mainstream grocery stores in parts of Oregon. If you live outside of the Pacific Northwest, chances are high you'll have to purchase marionberries online. Unfortunately, shipping the frozen berries will likely cost you much than procuring them locally.
I buy frozen marionberries from Northwest Wild Foods. Keep in mind that the marionberries are a seasonal item, so they are not available for purchase year-round.
Luckily, they also sell many other lesser-known berries, edible mushrooms, nuts, and seafood. I could easily be kept busy trying different foods until marionberry season rolls around again. (A word of warning to the foodies, you might find it a little too easy to spend too much over there!)
Where to Buy Marionberry Jam (if you don't want to make it)
If you live outside of the Pacific Northwest, it may be a lot easier to obtain marionberry jam than fresh or frozen marionberries. There are lots of berry jam options available online to meet a variety of dietary preferences. Here are a few options for buying marionberry jam if you can't get it locally:
- Misty Meadows Sugar Free Marionberry Spread The ingredients in this spread are marionberries, pectin, and apple juice. That's it! This is my top pick for a premade no added sugar marionberry jam (and the crock it comes in is so cute).
- Oregon Growers Marionberry Fruit Spread Here's an option for those looking for a classic marionberry jam with pectin (i.e., one with sugar). (P.S. This product is Non-GMO project verified, but marionberries and other blackberries are not a GMO crop in the U.S. Your marionberries should be non-GMO whether they have this label or not.)
- Big Foot Toe Jam Oregon Marionberry Jam This jam gets my award for the most amusing name! Marionberries contain a lot of seeds, but this Big Foot Toe Jam is an option for those who want a seedless marionberry jam. This is another classic jam recipe made with sugar, for those who prefer sweetened fruit spreads.
Other Berry Recipes That You May Enjoy
I LOVE berries so much! Berries are tasty, packed with nutrients, and they are also a great fit for low calorie and low carb diets! Is it any surprise that I have tons of recipes using berries on the site?
If you are like me and want to eat ALL the berries (the edible ones, anyway), you might like these berrylicious recipes:
- Chocolate Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- Strawberry Cucumber Smoothie
- Blueberry Overnight Oats for Weight Loss
- Strawberry Banana Nice Cream
- Frozen Cod in Air Fryer (Served with Strawberry Kiwi Mango Salsa)
- Orange Chicken Salad with Strawberries
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Marionberry Jam Recipe without Pectin (Low Sugar)
- Put the frozen marionberries (blackberries) in a medium saucepan over medium heat on the stovetop. Heat the fruit for 5-10 minutes, allowing it to break down. Give it a stir occasionally.
- While the berries are heating, squeeze the juice from half of an orange. You'll need one tablespoon of juice for this recipe.
- After cooking the marionberries, take them off the heat. Mash the berries to the desired consistency with a potato masher or a fork. I like to make my jam pretty smooth; there will still be plenty of texture from the seeds.
- After mashing, stir in the honey, fresh orange juice, and chia seeds. Let your jam stand until it has cooled and thickened. Then put the jam into a glass jar (or jars) and refrigerate it overnight.
- In the morning, you'll be ready to use your fresh Oregon marionberry jam! Any jam that you will not use in 3-4 days should be stored in a freezer-safe container in the freezer.
- Hot tip! If the marionberry jam isn't thickened enough after refrigerating overnight, add more chia seeds and refrigerate again for 8-12 hours.
This marionberry jam recipe has been updated from 2020 with minor recipe tweaks, new photos, and a new video. Enjoy!