– Is a sugar-free jam recipe based in reality? Well, sort of. –
If you have any experience canning fruit, you probably know that you need sugar in your jam to keep it from spoiling. And not just a little sugar. You need, like, A LOT of sugar to prevent bacteria and other funky things from growing in your fruit. (You also need a certain amount of acid, like in this orange and black Halloween snack jam.)
I start to twitch when I think about pouring over a pound of refined sugar into my fruit preserves. I strive every day to cut back on sugar, so making jam always feels like a compromise to me. I wished and wished for a sugar-free jam recipe, a tried-and-true method.
Then I met the magical Jen Cordaro, a local Oakland jam-maker who runs a tiny business called Jenny’s Jars. She was generous enough to share some of her white sugar-free strawberry jam, and it was one of the best things I’ve tried in a while. She also shared a few tips for making fruit juice-sweetened jams that are every bit as delicious as the high-sugar jams folks normally make.
Jen even shared a sugar-free jam recipe, a spiced vanilla pear jam that is perfect for fall and winter. I’ve included the recipe below, but there are a few things to remember:
- When making jams without white sugar, it will not set or gel the same way as regular preserves. Don’t expect a hard-set jam, as this will yield a thinner finished product.
- Practice and take lots of notes. If you develop your own juice-sweetened jam, write down what you did so you can either replicate it if it comes out right, or find your mistake if it didn’t turn out like you’d hoped.
- If you want your sugar-free jam recipe to gel a little more, you can add “no-sugar needed pectin.” It still won’t be quote like the consistency of traditional jam, but it will be pretty close. A little heavy on the pectin is better than too light, if you want a more traditionally set jam.
This Spiced Vanilla Pear Jam is refined sugar-free, and it gets a boost of flavor from cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla beans. It’s a great example of a sugar-free jam recipe that works. If you’re looking for a more traditional recipe, check out one of a few lovely winter jam recipes here on The Culinary Life.
- 6 pounds pears, very ripe (Bartletts work great here)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 lemon
- 16 ounces all-natural, no sugar added, juice concentrate of your choice, thawed
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, (optional, for a very vanilla flavor)
- 1 package plus 25% of another package of no-sugar pectin, (optional)
- If canning, sterilize jars and lids. Place a small plate in the freezer so you can test the jam for proper thickness later.
- Peel, core, and chop pears finely. You can also puree them in a food processor, depending on the texture you want your jam to have. In a large bowl combine pears and lemon juice. Toss until pears are well coated with juice.
- In non-reactive pot (stainless steel is fine) combine juice concentrate and water. Use a butter knife to scrape the tiny beans from the inside of the vanilla pod, and toss the beans and empty pod into the pot. Bring to boil over medium heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Discard vanilla pod.
- Add pears, cinnamon, cardamom, and optional vanilla extract to the pot. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often to ensure the fruit does not stick or burn to the bottom of the pot. Once mixture thickens, after about 45 minutes, test for doneness by spreading 1/2 teaspoon of cooked fruit on the cold plate and place it back in the freezer. Wait 30 seconds, then run your finger through the fruit. It should be thick enough to not run all over the plate, but remember that jams made without sweetener will not gel the same as standard jams. Here, the jam should just stick to the plate without being runny.
- Optional: If you prefer a more gelled jam, add 1 package plus 20% of another package of no-sugar pectin once jam is done. Use a whisk to mix the jam to ensure there are no clumps of pectin. Return the jam to a boil and stir constantly for exactly 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- If canning, ladle the jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom, and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Otherwise, place in an airtight container in the fridge. Freezes well up to 6 months.
Special Equipment: Eight (8-ounce) sterilized mason jars with lids, water bath
Nutritional analysis is without the pectin
* When making jams without white sugar, it will not set or gel the same way as regular preserves. Don't expect a hard-set jam, as this will yield a thinner finished product.
* Practice and take lots of notes. If you develop your own juice-sweetened jam, write down what you did so you can either replicate it if it comes out right, or find your mistake if it didn't turn out like you'd hoped.
* If you want your sugar-free jam recipe to gel a little more, you can add "no-sugar needed pectin." It still won't be quote like the consistency of traditional jam, but it will be pretty close. A little heavy on the pectin is better than too light, if you want a more traditionally set jam.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.