MAKING SUGAR FREE OR LOW SUGAR JAMS
I know this may sound like a misnomer--jams without sugar. We have always made jams with sugar! Usually the proportions are about half and half (5 cups of fruit to 5 cups of sugar. Might as well be eating straight sugar. We have been experimenting with jams made with half the amount of sugar down to no sugar at all and I think many people may be interested to know the outcome of this trail and error. Sugar and Pectin is what makes the jam thicken and hold is viscosity, so when the sugar is removed most jams loose the texture and become very runny. To solve this problem we have found a secret weapon, which I will get to later in the blog.
Pectin jams have long held a fascination since nobody is ever sure exactly how they will turn out. They require a specifice proportion of acid (occurring either naturally in the fruit or added with lemon juice), pectin (some of it natural, some from a box or a bottle), and sugar. People in little white lab coats with lot of fancy equipment figure all this stuff out.
Unfortunately, they have to work on average, so your jam may or may not set up the same, and there's really no way o fknowing or making changes. And there's absolutely NO way to cut down on the sugar because it just won't work! And besides that, pectin is expensive
If you want a low-sugar jam where you can taste the fruit and not just the sugar and you don't mind a soft jam, you will find that if you use our ULTRA GEL(a granulated thickener made from waxy maize-corn) is a godsend. It doesn't depend on scientific proportions to work, so you sweeten and thicken to your own liking. There are several advantages to this besides the obvious ones: The amount of light corn syrup in a freezer jam may be reduced when less sugar is used because the sugar dissolves easier with less crystallization. There is also no need to heat freezer jams, since there is less sugar to dissolve.
Another advantage of using ULTRA GEL instead of pectin is the flexibility. If you want a jam thicker, stir in moreULTRA GEL. If you want it thinner, use more fruit or juice. Also, ULTRA GEL jams may be made from any type fruit mixture desired. For this reason, many people like to freeze fresh crushed fruit to combine with other fruits later in the season for unique flavour combinations. As a rule of thumb, I recommend taking the jam recipe you have, cut the sugar in half, and for each cup of sugar add a generous TBSP. of the Ultra Gel. If you are interested in the other uses of ULTRA GEL check out this page.
Now for the sweeteners--we have been trying out several methods of making jams without sugar but still get the sweetness we need for the fruits used and the texture of the jam once it has set. I have included some recipes using grape juice, corn syrup and even frozen apple juice concentrate, but my favorite by far is the natural sweeterner Xagave which if extracted from the Agave Plant. The latter seems to make the best texture, the right sweeteners with 1/2 the calories.
Low Sugar Freezer Jam recipe from The Ultra Gel Answer Book
White Grape Juice: The white grape juice or apple juice acts as a substitute for the syrup the sugar makes when added to the berries or fruit used. It adds clarity to the jam and improves the texture.
Applesauce: Adding applesauce to raspberry jam started out as a college student trick to extend the expensive berries, but it also distruibutes the seed and is very pleasant.
Light Corn Syrup: This certainly improves the texture of freezer jams and helps them to set better.
Xagave Natural Sweetener: Unlike sugar or honey, Xagave is readily soluable in hot or cold water and mixes well in all recipes. Because of it's ability to absorb moisture it acts as a natural preservative which is a great quality for something we are making to keep for a while like jams and jellies. Xagave is 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar so you will need to reduce the amount of Xagave accordingly to your recipes. It also is great for Diabetics because of it's low glycemic index. We have a whole page that explains exactly what this wonderful product, Xagave can do besides make jams and jellies
TIP: For seed free Raspberry and Blackberry jam use the Berry Press on the Bosch Universal or Universal Plus, to remove the seeds before making the jam.
This recipe has been submitted by one of our customers using both Ultra Gel and Xagave for her True Rhubarb Jam
slice rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces. note: T = 1 Tablespoon
4 cups rhubarb
Rinse and drain rhubarb and place in heavy pot. (The water left from rinsing is enough moisture)
Add Xagave and place on low heat on the stove. Simmer until rhubarb is tender. Slowly stir in Ultra Gel. (Ultra Gel thickens quickly but reaches its full potential in about 5-10 minutes.)
Remove from heat and pour into jars.
Makes about 4 half pint jars.