Thursday, June 30, 2011

Making Strawberry Jam? Hold the Sugar!

Every year  I almost miss the end of our local strawberry season. We get so excited to eat those first few berries... not really sweet enough for canning or freezing, but soon berries are in full swing. I like to make jam at the peak of the season. Don't blink, or you could miss it.

Our forecast is threatening rain, which could end the season. So, I knew the rush was on to pick and process at lightening speed. Armed with my box of pectin, I began measuring out the 7 cups of sugar. Yikes! With such sweet berries, it seemed such a shame to drown out their flavor.

My husband brought home a package of Pomona's Universal Pectin. His Great Aunt raves about it. Now, I was raised with the grocery store aisle pectin brands, so I was skeptical.

This isn't your average pectin. The pectins I have used in the past required the jam to be made of 55-85% sugar to set up properly. This citrus peel extracted pectin is activated by calcium, not sugar.

So, instead of needing 7 cups of sugar to 5 cups of strawberries,  I can use 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of strawberries. That makes this Mom happy. And if sugar isn't your thing, use honey or another sugar substitute.

The process is easy. The box contains two pouches of powder. One is the pectin and the other is calcium. The calcium gets dissolved in a set amount of water and can be stored in the fridge. I only used 4 tsp. for two batches of strawberry jam. Mix the pectin with the sugar and set aside. Fruit & calcium is added to the pan, brought to a boil, then the sugar/pectin mixture is added. Stir for 2 minutes till all the powder is dissolved and process in jars as usual.

The jam is great! Since I use sun ripened strawberries, it is nice for their real flavor to come through... not just the taste of sugar. Instead of our homemade jam tasting like candy, it tastes like ripe strawberries. The color was still vibrant and my children enjoyed it. I love that we cut out a drastic amount of sugar.

I know there are other low sugar recipes on the market, but those use fruit juice, which still has sugar, albeit natural, to activate the pectin. They also contain additives I can do without. This truly is a low sugar option. If you run into a "sticky situation", don't worry! call their JAMLINE for help.

This is not a sponsored or prompted post. I didn't receive this product to review. I just used it last night and am pleasantly surprised. I can't wait to share this with other canners in my life, and I also had to share with my readers. Have you ever used this brand or method? I would be curious to hear if others enjoy this product as much as I do.
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