No-Added-Sugar Pear Lemon Jam — And a Book Giveaway

No Sugar Pear Lemon JamLast night was a big night for me. I made jam without added sugar for the very first time. This pear lemon jam is primarily sweetened with white grape juice concentrate; it achieves a set with the help of Pomona’s Universal Pectin.

Why did I do it?

I am not going to act like the food police and say that sugar is bad. I have been a sugar lover for my entire life and, somehow, I have been blessed with the capacity to easily metabolize as much of it as I want. Every time I have my glucose levels checked, they’re perfect — and really they have no business being so, given the excess of sugar in my diet. But lots of folks around me don’t have it so easy where sugar is concerned. I’d like them to have more options and, frankly, for the first time in my life, I’m feeling a little bit sugared out myself. I want to try something different. (Plus, I will be turning 45 in a couple of weeks and I am starting to rack up a long list of things that are changing as I get older. Moderating my sugar intake can’t do anything but help keep things in balance.)

Green and Red D'Anjou PearsOf course there’s no such thing as a truly sugar-free jam. It’s fruit, right? There’s all kinds of sweet in it. What I’m talking about here is cutting out the cups and cups of cane sugar, whether refined white or unbleached organic, that go into most preserves. I’m not going to start exclusively making (or posting) cane-sugar-free jams, but I do want to start experimenting with alternatives.

Cutting out the cane sugar raises interesting questions. Safety isn’t the issue — because it’s not the sugar in our jars that makes a recipe safe; it’s the acid level. Here, the acid level is high enough to keep the sealed jar contents safe and unspoiled, but this jam might not look great after a couple months. I’ve had low-sugar jams — strawberry, rhubarb, and, yes, pear — turn brownish in their jars over time, so I know I’m inviting discoloration here, too. Lots of sugar helps jams look lovely; it makes them shiny and helps them hold their color. The appearance of this jam is likely to go off, but I don’t know how long that will take or how bad it will be. We’ll see.

I also know that, after the jars are opened, the jam won’t keep as long in the fridge. Sugar helps open jars stay fresh, but I don’t know how big the difference will be.

Perhaps the most significant open question is whether, as I continue to experiment, I will like the flavor of preserves made without added sugar. Honestly, I expected this jam to be disappointing, and it’s not. It’s really good. It tastes just like what went into the jars: pear, lemon, white grape juice. (And I think that’s one of the main things to keep in mind with no-sugar jams: What you put into it is exactly what you’re going get out of it. So use the best, sweetest, most perfectly ripe fruit you can find. That’s critical for all jam, but doubly so here.) It’s a tad earthier than regular jam, but it’s definitely sweet enough for me. If no-sugar jam could always turn out this well, I might just switch for good and all. But I don’t know what weirdness lies in wait as I contemplate other recipes.

Green and Red D'Anjou PearsI hesitated to write out the instructions for this jam in the same way as usual: Do this, do that — Step 1, 2, 3. Because this is the first time I’ve made a jam like this, it felt like learning a new dance in the kitchen. The steps aren’t complicated, but you have to pay attention or you will trip. What I really wanted to do was simply describe what I did and invite you to join me in the dance, but I found that a first-person recipe-narrative was annoying to read. So. The recipe looks like most of the recipes I write; please just keep in mind that I’m at the very beginning of my learning about no-sugar jamming.

If you do want to join the no-sugar dance, I’m giving away a copy of a book that can help. You’ll find information about the giveaway at the end of the post.

No-Added-Sugar Pear Lemon Jam

4 pounds pears, peeled, cored, and simmered down to 3 cups mashed fruit (I used a mix of red and green D’Anjou)
2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon Splenda (this is so very optional)
1 cup white grape juice concentrate
3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder
4 teaspoons Pomona’s calcium water

1. Sterilize 4 half-pint jars.

2. Finely slice one lemon, after removing the pithy core. (Truth be told, I used a Meyer lemon for this sliced lemon and a Eureka lemon as the second lemon, but I am going to recommend that you don’t use Meyer lemons in this recipe. That’s because Meyer lemons are less acidic than other lemons and I want to be sure the recipe stays well within Pomona’s guidelines for acidity.) I sliced my lemon as shown in How to Slice Citrus Fruit for Marmalade. (Briefly: Cut the lemon in half along the stem line, notch each half to remove the pithy center, turn each lemon half over, and slice it finely; the linked post shows photos of this.) Put the lemon slices into a small saucepan, cover them well with water, and simmer for ten minutes. Set aside. (Don’t discard the water!)

3. While the lemon slices are simmering, peel, core, and roughly chop the pears. Put the pears into a large, nonreactive saucepan and add the water in which you simmered the lemon slices. Squeeze the second lemon and add the strained juice to the mixture. (The squeezed lemon should yield at least 2 tablespoons of juice.) Bring the pear mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer. (All in all, you’ll simmer the mixture for 20-25 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent sticking or burning.)

4. As the pears are simmering, grind the lemon slices. (To do this, I rummaged around my cabinets until I turned up one of the oddest appliances I own: a mini food processor. I got it at a time when I was a dweller in tiny apartments and mostly it has been a bother. It’s too small to do much of anything except — grind a single lemon. Perfect.) Add the ground lemon to the simmering pears and stir well. As the mixture continues to simmer, periodically smush it with a potato masher.

5. This step is optional. If you feel panicky about sweetness, like I did, you can grab a packet of Splenda from the bottom of your purse and throw it into the mixture. (Actually, don’t throw it. Open it and take care with it, sprinkling it from high over the pot to distribute it well.) One packet is 1/4 teaspoon of Splenda. I know that now. What I don’t know is how much difference the Splenda made. It just made me feel better to put it in there.

6. When the pears are almost soft and the texture is close to what you want for your final jam, put 1 cup of concentrated white grape juice in a little saucepan and bring it to a boil. Transfer the boiling juice to a blender or VitaMix and add 3 teaspoons of Pomona pectin powder. Vent the lid and blend the pectin mixture for 1-2 minutes to thoroughly dissolve the powder. (This is the point at which you’ll really be dancing, because you have to continue to watch and stir your pears as you blend your pectin solution.)

7. Remove the pear mixture from the heat. Confirm that you have 3 cups of mixture. (If you have too much, set aside the extra and eat it like sauce! If you need a bit more liquid, you can add a touch of water.) Add 4 teaspoons of calcium water to the fruit mixture, stirring well. (The calcium is in the Pomona’s box with the pectin powder, along with instructions about how to mix it; it’s easy. I mix mine in advance and store it in the fridge for up to a couple of months.) Bring the pear mixture back to a boil and stir in the pectin solution. Cook the jam, stirring constantly, for exactly 1 minute. Bring it back to a boil (actually, mine never stopped boiling) and remove it from the heat.

8. Pour the jam into sterilized jars, wiping the rims clean before adding lids. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Ping. Ping. Ping. And ping.

Canning and Preserving Without Sugar

Canning & Preserving Without Sugar — Book Giveaway

When I decided to learn about canning and preserving without sugar, I bought this book called, sensibly, [amazon_link id=”1564409929″ target=”_blank” ]Canning & Preserving Without Sugar[/amazon_link]. The book is out of print (last published in 1997), so I bought it from a seller of used books on Amazon. Somehow, though, I got trigger happy and accidentally ordered two copies. That’s good news, because now I can give away the extra one.

The book is full of inspiration for no-sugar canning. (It’s where I got the idea to try pear and lemon together, though the process I use is a mix of techniques discussed in the book and directions from the Pomona’s package insert.) The author discusses many different kinds of alternative sweeteners and includes jams, pickles, relishes — you name it. The book also offers a lot of information about preparing produce for freezer storage.

I did already find one bit of conflicting information. The book says that, when using a calcium-activated pectin, the calcium should not be cooked at all after it is added. But the Pomona directions say something different; you always add the calcium before the final boil. I called Pomona’s JAMLINE to check this out (how cool is it that they have a JAMLINE?) and was told that, while they were aware that some sources say not to cook the calcium, they don’t know why that is so. It’s fine to add it before the boil. So take that for whatever it’s worth to you. It doesn’t diminish my own fascination with this book.

If you’ve never canned without added sugar, how do you feel about it? Intrigued? Intimidated? Unmoved? If you’d like to give it a go, leave a comment saying so, and I’ll enter you in a random drawing for my extra copy. (Remember, it’s used — clean but not pristine.) I’ll choose the winner in one week, on March 12.

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  • Reply Victoria March 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Sounds very interesting! I’ve begun to can more and more over the last few years and was concerned with how much sugar it takes. This sounds like a great alternative! I know I’d put the book to good use.

  • Reply Julia March 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    You know, I have done a lot of strange things, but I’ve never made a no-sugar jam. When I read your post, I thought, well, gosh, why haven’t I done that? I’ve been thinking about the amount of sugar I eat lately, especially with a jelly-obsessed toddler, so I’m really excited about this recipe. And the book!

  • Reply Marisa March 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I am so intrigued! I look forward to hearing more about these no-sugar explorations!

  • Reply Michele March 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Would love to have this for my Father! He can not have sugar due to his medical illness and we are always looking for things like this for him. Please enter me into the drawing! THANKS!

  • Reply A.S. March 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve just started canning and putting things up from my garden in the last year – mainly because I wanted to increase my family’s intake of organic food. I have found a great many no-sugar-added recipes that are fast favorites. In addition to Splenda and white grape juice you may want to experiment with agave nectar; in my experience even the Splenda/grape juice/agave isn’t necessary if you’re using really high quality, ripe fruit. Since I’m relatively new to it I tend to stick with fruit on the really acidic side of the spectrum. Good luck with your lower sugar experiments!

  • Reply A.S. March 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Also – I’d love to be entered into the drawing for the book. Thanks!

  • Reply SaraY March 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for this great giveaway chance! I’ve been making jam for a couple years now and totally have the canning bug, but always worry about the amount of sugar I’m using since my kids would eat our jam three times a day if I let them! :-) This book would be a great resource…

  • Reply Kris March 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I would love to give this a try. My girls love preserves and it would be nice to have an option with no sugar for days when they get plenty elsewhere.

  • Reply Sarah March 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I just started canning last summer and LOVE having jams, etc, around during the winter :) I’ve seen “low sugar” pectin on the shelves but haven’t tried it… the ones I saw had sugar or sugar substitute already in the package, and that didn’t sound good to me. This sounds like a much better option!

  • Reply garricks March 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I’ve been looking for more sugar-free and reduced sugar recipes. Mom is diabetic, food-controlled, and has had to give up so many of her favorite foods. I can’t wait to deliver her this pear-lemon jam for her breakfast toast!

  • Reply Keith Boyd March 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Hello! I’d LOOOOOOOVE to have this book and as this year has been my year of renewal it would allow me to eat some jam again. Unlike yourself I haven’t been blessed with the ability to metabolize sugar well enough and I’ve been cutting it out. I’d love to be entered! THANK YOU!

  • Reply Shawn Christensen March 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I have tried canning without sugar without much success…would love a copy of your book!

  • Reply Tina March 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for the giveaway! I hope I win. :)

  • Reply NanaMolly March 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I have been exploring many ways to address Fibromyalgia. The best thing for me is to control my diet. I eat nothing processed outside of my own kitchen. Additionally I am limiting sugar, gluten dairy and many other common ingredients in recipes. This book sounds perfect! The Pear Lemon Jam will be my first experiment with jam.

  • Reply Fran March 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Since losing over 100#’s our high-sugar canning days are over. My husband and I spent last summer making various jams using the fruit from our yard (cherries, peach, plum, blueberries and strawberries). And while most of it came out ok, I would love to try the Pomono pectin and read a “real” book on preserving without sugar.
    Love your post!

  • Reply Darla Shannon March 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I would love to win this book. My son can’t eat sugar and I don’t need it.

  • Reply Dorothea March 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Oh yes, please! Seems I’m always experimenting on my own with cutting way back on sugar in recipes. I’d love to have the book as my guide. . . so thanks for a great giveaway, I’m crossing my fingers!

  • Reply Laura March 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I bought several boxes of Pamona’s low/no sugar pectin last year with dreams of churning out my own jellies and jams. But I’m pretty new to canning and got confused by the wildly conflicting views of how much sugar is really needed. I’d LOVE to read a book like this. Thanks for your post, it gives me hope!

  • Reply Kristina March 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Oh I’m excited about this! I make jams for gifts because the last thing my family needs is sugary stuff. But no sugar added? This I could do for my own family! Thank you for sharing the recipe, too. Gotta try it.

  • Reply Annie March 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I would love to test this out. I’ve used Pomona’s several times to make apricot jam, strawberry jam, etc. and have significantly reduced the amount of sugar used, but never fully gone no sugar. That’s one of the things that annoys me the most about preserving fruits in sugar – when you want to eat them in the winter, you’re forced to eat them with all that sugar! Now, I like myself some sugar now and then, but I’d love to just have some healthier way to eat those strawberries, pears, etc.

  • Reply Sapperangel March 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I would love to experiment with lower sugar options…. I already try.. and yes sometimes they are just a bit off… love the notion of “the dance”

  • Reply Carly March 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    i’ve used pomona pectin with low sugar before, i’ve never thought of no-sugar canning but am very intrigued. i love being able to let the fruit flavor really shine.

  • Reply Sally March 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    The book cover is enough to entice me to trying some of the recipes inside!

  • Reply Jerilee Costa March 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Just the book I’ve been looking for!

  • Reply tigress March 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    so great that you are exploring this Shae. funny, just tonight I was looking at all the jars of jam on my larder shelves thinking “oh no there’s a lot of sugar in dem jars!” please count me in for the give-away!

  • Reply Monica T. March 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    This sounds interesting. There are a couple of folks in my family that are starting to have to test their blood sugar. And they are also my biggest fans when it comes to my canning. I haven’t tried the Pomona’s yet.

  • Reply Polly March 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve tried low-sugar jams and not been too impressed with them, so I’m excited to be able to follow your experimentations – and the book looks great!

  • Reply Polly March 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    (oh – AND I’m way interested in making more low- or no-sugar preserved fruit, too – sugar is sugar is sugar is empty calories, whether in home-made jam or in a snickers bar)

  • Reply christina d March 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Whoa…no sugar. I’m too much of a novice to try that…I’m scared. But you make it look sooo easy and yummy! Your directions seem easy & readable- THANK YOU!

  • Reply Deb March 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I am quite intrigued and a tad frightened (only the eensiest beeensiest bit skerrrd). :) Frightened because I began the UC Master Food Preservers program today. In teaching canning/preserving, at their core they are the stewards of food safety and our lecture next week is all about that. Then away we go with the fun stuff.

    • Reply Shae March 6, 2011 at 8:18 am

      Deb, I am excited to hear that you are starting the UC program! I wish there were one closer to me here in Northern California. I feel confident that this is a safe, high-acid recipe. If you have any concerns after your safety lecture, feel free to share them.

      • Reply Deb March 10, 2011 at 6:56 am

        There are only 7 of us in the Saturday class, two are from Humboldt!! (Class is in Placerville). :)

        I don’t always color in the lines myself when it comes to preserving,(and haven’t been sick or sickened anyone) but will be happy to share anything worth passing along. :)

        Thanks always for the inspiration!

  • Reply Emily Rae March 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve tried Pomona’s several times, and while I like it, the extra steps are rather annoying to me… but I do love my honey-apricot jam! I’ll have to experiment more with sugar-alternate methods this spring and summer.

  • Reply elizabeth March 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I’m into decreasing sugar, and using things like agave and honey and grape juice concentrate. And we all need extra calcium, don’t we . . .

  • Reply Amy March 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I want to try canning with no sugar! I hate how I can take a beautifully tasty fruit then I have to add 7 cups of sugar to it to make jam and it then barely tastes like the original thing :(

  • Reply michelle in colorado March 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    You are right about them not lasting as long in the fridge and the discoloring. When I give them out as gifts I have to make sure the recipient knows to eat them sooner than later.

  • Reply Shannon March 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    This would be a great book to add to my collection! I like making homemade jams and jellies, and I always want to pass along some to my parents, but both are diabetic. Their doctors say they can eat natural fruit jams, but not those with added sugar. This book would be a great start in making jams that I can give them without worry. Thanks for offering this book!

  • Reply Judy Workman March 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I try so hard to eat well, but sugar in my food is such a is just everywhere. I really want to learn how to can without the sugar.We all need a little less sugar at my house so we can stay healthy.

  • Reply Sasha March 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    It’s so hard to can without sugar! I have been trying but it seems like my jams never taste the same without a whole bunch! Would love to check out the book, thanks!

  • Reply Lindsey March 6, 2011 at 12:31 am

    I just stumbled across your post and I think its great! I have been thinking over the last 2 jam making seasons, that I need to try making jam without sugar – I am excited to try yours! I made plum cordial a few weeks ago and it was so delicious and such a vibrant, gorgeous colour. It was so sweet and tasted perfect before I had put the sugar in – which I only did for preserving reasons!
    Thanks for your info – I look forward to reading your posts! :)

  • Reply joanna March 6, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Very interested in low sugar options. Our local supermarkets in Latvia tend to be rather sparse of fresh fruit and veg over the winter and so it would be great to find ways of preserving our produce for use over the long winter months without drowning everything in sugar.

  • Reply Terry March 6, 2011 at 2:30 am

    I would love to add this book to my obsessive collection! Perhaps to my Library’s collection so more people can benefit. No~sugar…radical!

  • Reply Denise March 6, 2011 at 4:00 am

    I had the desire to make jam without sugar last summer. We picked organic blueberries and I made blueberry jam with no sugar. It was made with a can of frozen grape juice concentrate. It was fabulous. I would LOVE this book :)

  • Reply Dawn March 6, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I once tried no-sugar peach jam with one of the commercial pectins designed to be used without sugar. It wasn’t awful, but I think it could have used something like apple or white grape juice for a little more sweetness, and it certainly wasn’t pretty to look at. I would definitely be willing to give it another go with some sage advice!

  • Reply Joanna March 6, 2011 at 4:51 am

    I’m really curious to try canning without added sugar–the recipes I’ve used seem to use so much it can be disheartening sometimes. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Reply Jill March 6, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Great looking recipe, thanks for sharing! We make and sell jams at our farmers market and are always being asked for low or no sugar jams. This would be a great opportunity to try it out.

    • Reply Shae March 6, 2011 at 9:07 am

      Hi Jill! When I sell my jams, I get the same question. I have always wanted to offer a no-sugar option, but I do still have concerns about the appearance of the jam over time. Before I started selling a no-sugar jam, I’d want to keep it for a while to see what it did in the jar over a period of months, so I could let folks know — not that the jam is bad, but that it might look funny!

  • Reply Debbie R March 6, 2011 at 5:19 am

    The only “sugar-free” I have ever make was with FAKE sugar…would love to make with NO added sugar! Hope I win so I can check out new processes.

  • Reply Joan March 6, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Funny you should be writing about this. I have been making canied tangerine peel, candied key limes, clementine confit, meyer lemon marmalade, and of course tangerine slices in sugar syrup with a cinnamon stick. Yeah, went through about 6 pounds of sugar just this week. As I have been adding my 1/2 cup of sugar every 2 days to my confit, I have begun to wonder, “Is this a healthy way to preserve?” Now that is not to say that confit could ever be made without sugar. However, there must be recipes out there just as delicious and healthier with less if no sugar necessary. Would love to explore your Canning and Preserving Without Sugar book. It definitely sounds like an intriguing idea!

    • Reply Shae March 6, 2011 at 8:14 am

      Joan, your experience sounds very much like mine has been lately. Between the months of November and February, I went through 70 pounds of sugar for canning projects. As you say, there is a place for some sugar — for those of us who can eat it — but I’m coming to feel that, as a regular practice, I would like a healthier way to preserve.

  • Reply Mary March 6, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I would love to have this book. My husband is diabetic. This would be wonderful.

  • Reply Alyssa March 6, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I have not tried canning without sugar, but it sounds like an interesting project!

  • Reply SallyK March 6, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I just started canning last summer and was rather shocked at how much sugar was required. I turned to the low sugar pectin with much success and would like to do more next summer.

  • Reply Linda March 6, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Always looking for ways to lower sugar in recipes without giving up the taste.


  • Reply Nicole March 6, 2011 at 6:47 am

    This is definitely something I need to research more. My step-mom is a huge fan of my canning but was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the beginning of the year.

  • Reply loretta March 6, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Perfect timing for this. Last year was my first year canning and I started with jelly/jam. After looking at a regular recipe, I was shocked with the amount of sugar needed for making a fruit spread. I used some boxed pectin that was low or no sugar, but my options on fruit type were very limited. I have been searching and searching this winter for low/no sugar recipes to use this year, but it has been very hard finding anything. I recently found out about Pomona and bought some to use this year. I would love to check out your extra copy!!

  • Reply Livia March 6, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I also digest sugar well. This autumn I made quite a lot of exciting applesauce without added sugar, and it has been such a joy every time I’ve gone looking to my canned stuff for gifts only to remember that a friend is diabetic… but, no, I still have gift-worthy options. Yeah.

    Speaking of… that jam looks/sounds like it might resemble sauce more than jam. How is it really?

    • Reply Shae March 6, 2011 at 8:09 am

      Hi Livia: Without the pectin, it would indeed be a sauce. (That’s true of any jam, right? If it doesn’t set, you get syrup or sauce.) Here, the set is quite firm, not like a sauce at all.

  • Reply Tammy B. March 6, 2011 at 8:56 am

    What a timely post. I usually use Ball NSN pectin. I am all about lower sugar. I just bought some Pomona’s Pectin and I’ve never used it. The directions look pretty straightforward and knowing I can call the jamline helps.

  • Reply lani March 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I have tried the no sugar method on many a jam and it works well but with all the tips you gave it really helps canners see the difference …… I am an if it is jam it has sugar girl…still so old school and LOL I’m 55 but time will bring me around…..this year is the first year I have put thought into the sugar free…great post and love your site.

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse March 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I like your willingness to push the boundaries and experiment. Go Shae! Have you tried pear jam on french toast? I once had a pear tree and liked my pear jam that way. I’m sure yours, jam queen that you are, would be even better.

  • Reply Jaime March 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I’ve dabbled in sugar free jam a time or two. It’s really where I’d like to go with my jamming skills in the future. This book would be such a help. Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Reply Wendy March 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Me, Me! Last summer I tried low sugar chockcherry and buffalo berry with the lower sugar pectin in the pink box, mint with pomona, peach marmalade with honey. All were good but could be better. My hubby, bless his healthy soul, won’t touch anything that is not low sugar or no refined sugar so I am excited to see such a book exists!

  • Reply kari March 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I would love to win this book. Some of the jams I make I feel the sugar overpowers the fruit. I would like to know the tips and techniques for going sugar free.

  • Reply kaela March 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Well, you know I’m all about less sugar. :) Honestly, I have made a ton of no-sugar-added jams, with and without pectin, and my conclusion is that a little bit of sugar goes a long way. Even just a 1/2 cup in a standard jam recipe can make a big difference in texture, color, shelf stability. Also, some fruits work better than others; I’ve found pear, apple and blueberry are pretty easy to make without extra sugar – they are packed full of fiber and cook down into a thick, spreadable ‘jam’ without sugar or extra pectin. Strawberries and raspberries are much tougher; the end result tends to be thinner, separates on storage and darkens noticeably in color over time. Commerical pectin, or the 1/2 cup of sugar boost, helps here.

    At any rate – it is fun to experiment. For my taste, nothing is better than when I can taste the pure, unadulterated fruit; and it makes unique flavor combinations come alive when there is no extra sugar getting in the way.

  • Reply Emily March 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I love sugar, but my body doesn’t always love it. I’d adore a book on sugar free preserving.

  • Reply The Turnbulls March 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    This is so intriguing. We would definitely love to give this a whirl. It would be a big departure for our existing methods and we are always up for trying something new. Meanwhile, we are trying to get a tour of a sugar cane factory here in Florida. Fingers crossed we get to. But apparently, it will scare you away from ever wanting to use sugar!?!

  • Reply Debbie March 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I’ve been making no-sugar and low-sugar jams for years (I actually buy Pomona’s Pectin in bulk!) and I agree that the color changes eventually but doesn’t that just mean we should eat it faster? I love Blenheim Apricot jam, no-sugar, made with Pomona’s. It has a really firm set but it tastes like summer.

    And no need to enter me in the book giveaway. I still have my copy I bought in the late 1990s, stained and dog-eared as it is.

    • Reply Shae March 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Debbie. I made Blenheim jam with Pomona’s last summer, too, but mine was low-sugar, not sugar-free. It was delicious but, yes, set like a rock! I’ll try it again this year and see if there’s a way to back off the pectin just a bit to get a softer set.

      Glad to hear your copy of the book has been lived in and loved!

  • Reply Jane March 7, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Now this does sound interesting. Count me as part of the group who wants to try something new. I go through a lot of sugar at this house. There is so much I want to try this year, this is one for sure.

  • Reply Sara March 7, 2011 at 7:36 am

    While I love sugar, much to my chagrin, I think it’s to some extent a matter of getting used to the taste of things with less sugar. So I would love to try out this theory. Plus, there’s the vain hope that I can get my little ones to not be addicts. (Vain hope, based on what happened with the birthday frosting yesterday).

    • Reply Shae March 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      Sara, I think you make a most excellent point. We want no-sugar jams to taste like what we’re used to, and they just won’t. As you say, it’s a matter of learning to appreciate the taste of something different. The few times in my life when I’ve gone without sugar for a while and then gone back to it, I’ve been shocked at how sweet it actually is — too bad it’s so very easy to get used to that!

  • Reply Jyll March 7, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I would love to have this book! I agree that sometimes, the sugar overwhelms the fruit. And I was excited to discover just last week that my local health food store carries Pomona’s Pectin! Yes!

  • Reply Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen March 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I made raspberry jelly (black and red) with honey last year. It’s a really excellent clover honey full of vanilla flavor and it worked beautifully with the raspberries. I’d bet it would be good with pears, too. Haven’t done much else and we’re completely eliminating sugar for a while. I’d love to check out that book. Another one that has some tips on low-/no-sugar canning is The Natural Canning Resource book by Lisa Reyner–one of my top two canning books of 2010.

  • Reply kate March 7, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I am very intrigued- I love the Sure.Jell No Sugar Needed pectin, but would love to try making All Fruit that people rave about. Do you have any notes about what kind of white grape juice to get? Did you buy, like, Welches or like a fancy Whole Foods brand? Thanks for the good post and giveaway!

    • Reply Shae March 7, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Kate, I’m so glad you asked about this even though my answer is kind of embarrassing. I did go to Whole Foods, but what I bought was regular organic white grape juice — not concentrate. I didn’t realize my mistake until I had begun prepping the fruit for the recipe, so in a semi-panic, I ran down to the only open grocery store in town and bought . . . Welch’s! I’m wondering whether using Welch’s will help the jam keep its nice color longer, because the juice itself contained citric acid as a preservative.

      I like SureJell’s Low/No Sugar pectin, too. I use it for low-sugar jellies.

  • Reply Wild Plum Cottage March 7, 2011 at 10:08 am

    There are a few people in my life who either choose not to or can’t eat sugar. It would be nice to make them something delicious and healthy. I’d love a copy of the book.

    Thanks for posting the recipe. I’ll be looking forward to follow-up posts about how the pear jam ages.

  • Reply marie March 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I made so much jam last summer that I had to give away because of an increasing inability to metabolize sugar. Thank you for the post; I can make jam again next summer for me!

  • Reply Annette March 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Hey, found your site on Facebook via Pomona’s Pectin! I’ve been teaching jam making classes and I’m getting a lot of requests for a no sugar session. So excited to have a chance to win your book. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Reply Eve March 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I’ve tried no sugar jamming but it never set right. Maybe I need to win this book so I can make it work. Seriously, I love your blog and I’ll keep reading no matter what. Just keep writing!

  • Reply Cindy March 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Like you its not that I don’t like sugar but I like to keep in in the right proportions and it seems everything has added sugar. When i want sugar I want it bad but otherwise I want just natural sweet. And don’t even get me started on substitutes- nutrasweet or splenda- my body says absolutely not and goes into rebellion with even small amounts. Also I find that in most things sugar actually can mask the scrumptious natural flavor of perfectly grown fruits and veggies. I often cut back or out completely sugar in preserves and jams and butters but haven’t been so successful with pickles and relishes yet. Still experimenting on that.
    My favorite not sugared sweet things? — fruit juice and unflavored gelatin instead of the syrupy sweet jello and instead of sodas juice and carbonated water. Now if I could just find chewing gum that didn’t have artificial sweetness or a pound of sugar in stick I’d be all set.

  • Reply uncanny preserves March 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I really love Pomona’s and use it frequently. I’ve made a few no-sugar jams and I’m relatively happy with the results. I still prefer a bit of sugar, but with Pomona’s, I can keep it on the low end and let the fruit taste shine through.

    Still, I’d love to learn more about no-sugar jam making. Sign me up!

  • Reply bruce March 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    My wife and I have been making jam, jelly and marmalade for years and we are moving in the direction of making it more than just a hobby. No sugar added items are more important today because of the diabetic problem we have in our country. The book would be a great addition to our growing library.

  • Reply Lori K. March 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I would love an alternative to sugar as I am a sugar-holic too! And a lover of jam : )

  • Reply Melissa March 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I can say I have never made a jam with sugar. It is always a challenge to find a recipe that tastes as good with sweeteners. But I love the challenge and sometimes the results even! LOL

    • Reply Shae March 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

      Melissa, I did not know you were a no-sugar jammer. I am impressed and inspired!

  • Reply Aimee March 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I am new to canning and preserving and would love to learn how to do it in a healthier way!

  • Reply Jayne March 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I love making jam (and eating it!) but I do worry about the sometimes shocking amount of sugar used. Would love to try sugar free!

  • Reply Laura Z March 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I can jam like crazy, and I am one of those people with undeserved good blood sugar levels. My college age daughter’s birth family is chock full of diabetics, and she has the disease too. I’d love to be able to have jam in the cabinet that she can eat!

  • Reply Gluten-Free Bananacot Cake « Hitchhiking to Heaven March 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

    […] my post on making sugar-free jam, I mentioned that I am able to easily metabolize large quantities of sugar. The same does not go […]

  • Reply Supremed and Preserved Oranges « Hitchhiking to Heaven March 18, 2011 at 7:35 am

    […] This post could also be called “Experiments with Oranges,” because that’s what’s happening here. What you see above are orange segments preserved two ways: two of the jars include light sugar syrup and the other two contain a light syrup made with organic agave nectar. Trying agave is part of my new interest in preserving fruit without refined sugar. […]

  • Reply Marianne October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Yesterday, I went to the farmer’s market and bought eight small sweet and ripe golden apples, a generous one pound of small wine-grapes, and some sweet dessert lavender. I have never done this but I have become intrigued with sugarless jams and preserves. I simmered both in separate pots for a long time on low with several slices of lemon. I put both of them through a food processor twice and then back into the pots on low again for a little while with some of the lavender until I liked the taste. Then I decided to combine them because the apples had reached a fine consistency. The jam-preserve is quite tasty but I used too much lavender, it was a little potent. Next week I’ll try again, this is fascinating.

  • Reply Kathleen November 5, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Hello – Love your site and ideas. This low sugar option using Pomona Pectin caught my eye. I’ve been canning for many years – using lots of sugar along the way. I was happy to discover Pomona, but have been disappointed with the results. Not the taste, but my jams have darkened and don’t look very appealing. It’s like they slowly darkened from the top down. I have kept the jars in their original box and in an area without direct sunlight. The good thing with Pomona is that it’s forgiving. I’ve recently opened all my jam, removed the darkened jam and added more sugar and lemon juice. I’m hoping this will help with the darkening issue. Have you noticed this since using Pomona? Thanks!

  • Reply Shae November 5, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Hi Kathleen:

    Thanks for visiting! I do know what you mean about the color shift. That’s one thing that happens when you use less sugar; it’s not necessarily because of the Pomona. (See my experiment with oranges for a non-Pomona example. The update at the end of the post shows how oranges preserved in agave syrup darkened while the oranges preserved in sugar did not.) Lots of sugar keeps the preserves bright and shiny. I’ve found that this is more noticeable with some fruits than others. (Rhubarb? Forget about it! It turns brown.)

    The good news is that unless you notice anything else strange about your jars — mold, a strange smell — the jam will still be fine to eat and should still taste pretty much as it did when you canned it. This makes Pomona’s a great option for people who care more about reducing sugar than about the appearance and texture of the jam. I wish we didn’t have to choose!

  • Reply The year ahead with Sacramento’s great cooking classes and recipes. | Recipes Oven Food Healthy Recipes Cooking Tips January 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    […] sweetness without adding artificial sweeteners. You might also be interested in the recipe site,  No-Added-Sugar Pear Lemon Jam — And a Book Giveaway. Also see, Meyer Lemon Marmalade Recipe | Simply […]

  • Reply Raquel Ita May 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I would love it I I won to this book. I always wanted to make a sugar free fruit jam. By the way do you ever make or have a recipe for tomato jam ? My mom used to make what it fifty,sixty years ago. It was such a treat for myself and my siblings.

  • Reply Michele August 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Hi: I was searching for a sugar free recipe and found yours. I love your honesty and desire to eat healthy. White cane sugar destroys your B vitamins, and today unless organic,they are all Genetically modified which can lead to all kinds of problems down the road. But I see you suggest Splenda and it would actually be better to use anything but that since it is a very dangerous sugar substitute. Splenda turns to formaldehyde in the human body and can lead to a variety of illnesses including grand mal seizures, so I would suggest that no one use it, ever.
    But there are lots of great sugars you can use from stevia to trehalose and xylitol, with Trehalose being the best choice since it actually heals the body while being a sweetener.
    Using grape juice concentrate is using an intense fructose and thus it is only one step removed from cane sugar, so it is not the best choice.
    Thanks so much for sharing your learning curve, hopefully many people will begin to change the way they cook and eat and we can move into a healthier society.

  • Reply What’s That in Your Pectin? « Hitchhiking to Heaven March 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    […] But there’s still the significant issue of freshness: Preserves made without refined sugar just don’t keep as well in jars. They won’t kill you but, without sugar, the color and flavor go slack much sooner. For this reason, I’d be inclined to preserve no-added-sugar jams only in very small batches and to use what I’ve made within, say, six months. (I’ve posted a couple of recipes like this in the past: cherry blueberry jam and pear lemon jam.) […]

  • Reply sharron orcutt May 1, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    i have the 1982 printing of this book and none of the recipes you posted are included, so i will add cards to the book since your book is also out of print. wonder what other yummy recipes i am missing out on hmmmmmm

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