Banana Jam, naturally sweetened

Got bananas? Toss them into this naturally sweetened, five-ingredient, healthy and incredibly easy banana jam. You’ll be looking at PBJ in a whole new way!

Overhead photo of two glass jars with banana preserves, one with a silver spoon, all surrounded by allspice berries.

As the weather warms up and bananas race from green to brown before you can scream “not more banana bread!” make this fun and easy banana jam instead.

Desi loves bananas so I always have more than I can handle sitting on the counter. And as much as we love banana bread and banana cake and banana cookies, there are so many more delicious things you can do with this versatile fruit when it starts to ripen on you.

This banana jam in particular is my favorite because it is naturally sweetened with dates and a touch of maple syrup which makes it really healthy, it is super easy to make, quite foolproof, and takes no more than 20 minutes of time to go from scratch to finish.

Front photo of two jars of banana jam with a spoon and allspice berries.
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Why banana jam?

Sure, a banana doesn’t seem like a fruit that would lend itself naturally to jam making, like berries or peaches or oranges. But just because you don’t see it on the supermarket shelves is no reason to write off this amazing fruit as a candidate for making preserves you can keep around and enjoy for longer than you would be able to keep the actual fruit.

If I were to describe what a banana jam tastes like, I’d say it tastes like bananas, only better. Think the sweetness of bananas concentrated, caramelized and flavored with vanilla and allspice. On a piece of toast, plain or slathered with peanut butter, it is absolutely, unequivocally, scrumptious.

Ingredients you will need

  • Overripe bananas. The more overripe the better, because they’ll have more sugars in them.
  • Dates. I used medjool dates, but any other date is fine. The sweetness of different varieties of dates can vary so if you use another date, like deglet noor, you might want to use more than the eight dates I used.
  • Maple syrup. This is not absolutely necessary if you are okay with a slightly less sweet jam, the bananas and dates are sweet enough, but I have a young preteen to feed so things are usually a little sweeter around here unless I can help it or find a way to pull one over him. 🙂
  • Ground allspice. I tend to underuse this amazing spice in my kitchen, but it is a really great addition to this banana jam. Bananas and allspice are flavor buddies and go incredibly well together.
  • Pure vanilla extract. You just need a touch and it adds more wonderful flavor.
Front photo of two jars of homemade banana jam, naturally sweetened.
Can I just use sugar in the jam, instead of dates?

Yes. Begin with ½ cup sugar and add more if you want the jam sweeter. I’d recommend using coconut sugar, which would add a nice depth to the flavor.

How long can I store this jam?

I just make a small batch of it, to fill two small 6-oz jars, which keep nicely in the refrigerator for about a week. If you plan to store the jam for longer, even months, follow proper sterilization and canning procedures.
This jam should also keep quite well in the freezer. Thaw completely before using.

Can I use other flavorings in this recipe?

Yes! Bananas pair very nicely with lots of spices and flavorings.
Lemon and lemon zest would be a great addition to this jam. Use the zest and juice of a lemon in this recipe. You might want to adjust the amount of maple syrup up a little bit depending on how sweet you like the jam.
Cinnamon is another great flavor partner for bananas. You can use it along with the allspice, or replace the allspice with cinnamon.
Nutmeg is another great pairing with bananas. Again, use with the allspice or with cinnamon or by itself.
Rum or brandy. You might not want an alcohol-flavored jam if you have kids, but if you are making this for yourself or just other adults, a touch of rum or brandy really perks this jam — and its flavors — up! Add up to a tablespoon just before you take it off the heat so it doesn’t all cook out.

Steps and tips for making the banana jam

  • Chop the dates finely with ½ cup water and place them in a blender. Blitz until you have a pretty smooth paste.
  • Place the date paste and maple syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the bananas, broken into smaller pieces. Mash the bananas and the date paste together, some lumps are fine. Use the ripest bananas you can find. The less ripe the bananas, the less sugar they will have, and also they won’t mash up as easily or effortlessly.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. There is a lot of sugar in the bananas, dates and, of course, in the maple syrup, and sugar can burn easily, so it’s important you stir it and make sure nothing is burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. You don’t have to stir every second, but stay by the pot and make sure you stir it every 30 seconds or so.
  • Continue cooking the jam until it becomes quite thick and has darkened in color. When it starts pulling off the sides of the pot and is quite thick you are almost done.
  • At this point add in the allspice and vanilla and give it all a good stir. Turn off the heat.
  • Let the jam cool, then scoop it into airtight jars and refrigerate, or eat.

More homemade jam recipes

Overhead shot of two jars of banana jam with a black lid and allspice berries in the background.

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