canning preserves, jams, no sugar recipes?

sylwiahJune 16, 2009

Hi everyone,

I am learning how to make preserves and all the recipes I find are loaded with sugar. Does anyone have recipes for no sugar preserves (peaches, strawberries, etc)? I am experimenting with fruit juice concentrate as sweetener but cannot figure out the ratios. I don't want to be using artificial sweeteners though.


sylwia (Ann Arbor)

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You will find tested recipes at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.


Here is a link that might be useful: National Center for Home Food Preservation

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 12:59PM
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sylwia, I make all my preserves either all fruit or low sugar. My Dad was diabetic and I made them for him, but found that I like them better than those big jars of fruit flavored sugar and pectin that I used to make!

I use the old fashioned long cooking method without any commercial pectin because I find the commercial pectin expensive and inconsistent, plus I can double a batch and reduce sugar that way. I usually just crush the fruit into my pan, add apple juice or water, whatever "flavors" I want, and start cooking. I add almond extract to cherry, I've added rum to peach conserve, Cointreau or orange is nice with blueberry, etc. Cinnamon is good in apple jelly or apple butter, ginger is nice with apricots. I sweeten to taste but never use more than a cup or two of Splenda or Equal if I add it at all.

Anyway, when it nearly reaches jell point (between 218 and 220), I use the "frozen plate" test for thickness. That's just putting a plate into the freezer for a few minutes, dabbing a dot of hot jam onto the plate and putting it back in the freezer for a minute. If it's thick enough I stop cooking it. When it gets close, I usually turn off the heat under the jam because I've gotten a couple of batches of nice taffy from overcooking, along with a couple of "caramelized" batches.

Some fruits are low in natural pectin, so I normally add a little lemon juice, although the last batch of apricot jam I made I added the zest of a whole lemon and got a relatively nice apricot/lemon marmalade but it wasn't what I was trying to make, LOL.

Sometimes I don't get a good "gel" because of the lack of natural pectin, those fruits I just cook until they are thick, although they come out more like a fruit butter than a jam/jelly/preserve.

I have used Splenda or Equal in place of sugar too, but have found that they seem to get sweeter as they set, so that is a "taste as you go" process and I stop adding sweetener when it's a little less sweet than I want it to be in the end.

Also, no sugar preserves do not keep as well as the full sugar types, they will mold more quickly after opening, so I always can them in half pint jars to be certain they get used up before spoiling.

I always waterbath mine because it's easier for me to waterbath the jars for 10 minutes than to sterilize them all instead, and I don't like to deal with wax because it's messy, hot and I've had it catch on fire. So I slap rings and lids on the jars of hot jam and into the water for 10 minutes.

I don't worry so much about exact amounts because fruit is a high acid food and you can't contract botulism. That said, jam and preserves can mold and you can get sick, I would never scrape the mold from jam and eat the remainder of the jar, although that's what Grandma did.

You can also buy Pomona's Pectin, which will jell water, I swear. I don't like the odd, chalky texture/flavor I get with Pomona's and I find it a PIA to mix this part with that part and keep this part in the fridge in water, etc.

Ball and Sure Jell now have no sugar/low sugar pectins too, and they have recipes inside the box. I haven't used them so I can't tell you how well it works.

With me it was trial and error until I got it right and be prepared to have a couple of batches of fruit topping that never sets up at all, LOL. Keep trying and it'll work, I promise.

Good luck, and happy canning.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 1:54PM
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I don't do "no sugar" jams but I do low sugar. A good book to check out is "Summer in a Jar" by Andrea Chessman. Out of print but can be found. Full of low sugar recipes, but none completely sans sugar.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 9:16PM
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