This article includes affiliate links.
When I first saw the Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly maker (Amazon), I didn’t think I’d ever buy one. I don’t make a ton of jam, so it didn’t seem like it would be worth it for me. But for some reason, I made a rare impulse buy, and picked up this sweet little jam and jelly maker. Now that I’ve used it, I’m in love. In fact, I now have two Ball Jam and Jelly Makers!
Having said that, there are both pros and cons to this jam maker. I’ll share those with you in this article so you can make an informed decision. After all, you don’t want to plunk down your hard-earned cash on something that isn’t a good fit. 🙂
What’s Included in the Ball FreshTECH Jam and Jelly Maker
The Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker is a device with 4 main parts:
- The base, which includes all of the electrical components such as the motor, and digital control panel.
- A non-stick pot
- A stirrer
- A glass lid.
Note that when you open the package, the knob for the lid (and the hardware to attach the knob to the lid) is in the Styrofoam, so be sure not to throw that it.
Recipe Book and Quick Start Guide
It also comes with a spiral-bound recipe book and a quick start guide. The quality of the book is good and durable. It includes instructions, tips, and a troubleshooting guide.
The book includes the following recipes:
- Strawberry Jam
- Berry Jam
- Peach Jam
- Sweet Cherry Jam
- Pear Jam
- Plum Jam
- Apple Jelly
- Grape Jelly
- Pepper Jelly
- Pomegranate Jelly
It also includes instructions for preserving your jam or jelly.
Pros of the Ball Jam and Jelly Maker
Now that you know what’s in the box, let’s take a look at what I love about the jam maker.
The Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker is Super Easy to Use
The first thing that I love about the Ball electric jam maker is that it’s super easy to use. The instruction and recipe book lays out all of the ins and outs of how to use the jam maker. The instructions are super easy to follow. Most of the recipes require just three ingredients:
- Fruit or fruit juice
Pro tip: There are more complex recipes available online such as on the Ball website as well as in the book, Jams and Jellies and the book Not Your Mama’s Jams and Jellies, both available on Amazon. I recommend starting with the recipes in the book, since they are proven recipes and are so easy to follow.
In addition to the easy recipes, the machine itself is easy to use. With only two pushes of a button, you’ll be on your way to making delicious homemade jam or jelly.
The Jam and Jelly Maker Does all the Stirring for You
I put off making jam and jelly because I have neck and back problems. Standing over a stove and constantly stirring is hard on me.
If I made jam or jelly without this machine, I’d pay the price when it comes to pain. It simply wouldn’t be worth it. But with the jam and jelly maker doing all the stirring for me, I’m not worn out or in pain when I finish.
Watch the Jam Maker in Action
The FreshTECH Automatic Jam Machine Maintains Proper Temperature
When making jam or jelly from scratch, it’s important to maintain the right temperature. I was concerned that I’d not get the temperature high enough, and then it wouldn’t set. Or that I’d get it too high, and I’d scorch the jam before it was done.
Also, the timer on the jam maker ensures you cook the jam or jelly for the right amount of time
You Can Do Other Things While the Jam Maker is Working!
One of the things that I love the most about the Ball electric jam maker is that while it is working away, I’m free to do other things. For instance, as soon as I start the jam maker, I prepare the jars and canner.
I can also start on the clean-up, which means I have less mess to deal with once I’ve finished making and canning the jam.
The only small exception to this is that when making jam, you don’t add the sugar in until 4 minutes after you’ve pushed the start (enter) button. Thankfully the machine beeps when it’s time to add the sugar, so it’s not hard to know when to do it, but you do need to stay somewhat nearby so you don’t miss that beep. Even the 4 minutes is plenty of time to put water and my jars into the canner so I can start the heating process. Once I’ve added the sugar, I can take care of washing dishes while waiting for the rest of the process to complete.
Near Guaranteed Success in Jam and Jelly Making
Since the Ball jelly maker ensures you use the right time and temperature, and does all the stirring, it’s near impossible to mess up your homemade jam and jelly when using this machine.
Since anything is possible, on rare occasions there may be a flop. I personally haven’t experienced any flops. Flops are generally the result of human error.
For example, while it’s fine to use frozen fruit to make jam using the FreshTECH jam machine, if the fruit is still frozen when you start, then the jam won’t have enough time to cook and may not turn out right. Or if you use expired pectin the jelly may not set.
The bottom line is that if you follow the instructions you’re pretty well guaranteed that your homemade jam and jelly will turn out perfectly.
You Can Use the Ball Jam and Jelly Maker for More than Jam
Finally, while this machine is officially only for making jam and jelly, you can use it to make other things that require cooking and stirring. Think of it as an electric pot that stirs.
There are some limitations such as temperature and time. You can’t increase the heat, and it’s not going to cook and stir something for hours on end. But the fact that you can use it for more than just jam or jelly is a big plus in my book.
What I Don’t Like About the Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker
When it comes right down to it, there’s not much that I don’t like about this fun little jam maker. But here are the few things that make this a less than ideal option for some people.
It’s Not a Canner
First, the Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker isn’t an actual canner. It just makes the jam or jelly for you. From there, you can use any water bath canner, to can your jam. I personally use my trusty Nesco Canner (Amazon).
It Makes Small Batches of Jam or Jelly
You can only make small batches of jam or jelly with this electric jelly maker. Most recipes for the Ball FreshTech only make 4-6 pints of jam or jelly.
I’m personally a big fan of small batch canning, so this doesn’t bother me in the least. But if you like to make a ton of jam or jelly at a time, you’ll need more than one jam maker.
The Jam Maker Needs to Cool Down in Between Batches
Another reason you might want to consider having more than one jam or jelly maker is that you have to let the machine cool down for approximately 30 minutes, before starting the next batch.
If you want to make multiple batches one after another and have two jam makers, I recommend having the ingredients prepped for both batches of jam before you start the first batch. About 15 minutes after you start the first batch, start the second batch in another machine.
Around the time the first batch finishes and you get it in the jars and get the jars in the canner, your second batch of jam will be finishing up, and ready for you to get it jarred up and in the canner. You can then water bath can both batches of jam at the same time.
You Can’t Replace the Lid or Other Parts
Finally, I learned the hard way that if you drop the glass lid on a hard surface such as a hardwood floor, and it hits “just right” it will shatter.
That news in and of itself is bad enough. But what’s even worse is that there are no replacement parts for the jam and jelly maker.
Now the good news is, you may have another lid already on hand that fits the jam maker. If not, you can easily buy one. The main thing is to make sure the lid has vents. Or, like me, you can use the metal vents that are part of the original lid, and use a lid without vents. That has worked out fine.
My Final Verdict on the Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker
My final verdict on the Ball jam maker is that pros outweigh the cons. I like it so much that even after breaking the lid on my first jam maker, I decided to buy a second jam and jelly maker.
This handy machine has made it possible for me to make perfect jam and jelly without standing over a hot stove. I now thoroughly enjoy making jam and can do so in spite of busyness or physical limitations.
Here are the products that I use and recommend, along with a link to the jam and jelly maker. All of these products are available on Amazon.
- Ball FreshTECH Jam and Jelly Maker
- Jams and Jellies: Preserving by the Pints in Minutes (book with recipes for the jam and jelly maker)
- Ball Real-Fruit Classic Pectin (the recommended pectin for use with the jam and jelly maker)
- Hoosier Hill Farm Fruit Pectin (bulk pectin, good if you make a lot of jam and jelly)
- Nesco or Carey Smart Canner (what I personally use. Check the price because sometimes one or the other is cheaper.)
- Ball Jelly canning jars
- Ball website (for more recipes)
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out these related articles: