Making Low or No Sugar Jam and Jelly
Sugar is critical in gel formation. By using special commercial pectins, the amount of sugar used in making jam and jelly can be reduced or eliminated. These products will have different characteristics than regular jam and jelly.
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- Martha, I was wondering if there's any way to make jams and jellies with less sugar?
- Reducing or completely skipping the sugar in regular jam or jelly will result in a failed product.
But today, there are many choices for making low-and no-sugar products using one of the many pectin products that are not dependent upon sugar for a proper set.
In these products, the pectin has been modified so that it can create bonds to hold the gel together.
Some use calcium to hold the pectin strands together.
Others are modified by other means.
- How much sugar is in a reduced-sugar product?
- You have a choice of how much sugar to add.
Anywhere from none at all, up to three cups.
You'll find that the more sugar that is added, the more firm the gel will be.
Splenda and other artificial sweeteners may be used.
However, do not use products containing aspartame in jellies that are cooked, because the cooking causes the aspartame to lose its sweetness.
- So I thought sugar helped to firm the jelly or jam.
- It does.
But even with a special pectin, the set will be softer than jam made with regular pectin.
Natural sugars in frozen fruit juice concentrates are sometimes added to increase the strength of the jell.
A softer set may not be a problem.
Some people indicate that they prefer the softer texture of the lower sugar jams.
Jellies and jams made without sugar will not hold their color as well as those made with sugar.
The jelly may look beautiful when it is first made, but after a couple of months it may start to turn dark from oxidation.
The high concentration of sugar in regular jelly reduces water activity and helps to control bacterial growth.
Less sugar may allow for greater bacterial growth.
As a result, process times may be longer for these low-sugar or no-sugar jams and jellies.
Some pectin products include preservatives to reduce bacterial growth, as well as to preserve color.
- Can freezer jams be made with low-sugar pectins?
- Some brands of low- and no-sugar pectin include directions for no-cook freezer jam.
Other brands make special pectin for making freezer jam with reduced amounts of sugar.
For more information, watch the video on uncooked freezer jams.
If you're looking for jams with less sugar, one of these products may meet your needs.
- Thanks, Martha.
I can hardly wait to try it.
Frequently Asked Questions