Pomona’s Universal Pectin is a lovely product that allows the making of jam or jelly with any amount (even NONE) of any sweetener you like. It is available in the Texarkana area at Granary Street health food store, 3425 New Boston Road
Texarkana, TX (903-831-5940), at least I bought some there a while back.
The jam that I made today had:
12 cups of mashed up peaches (plus juice of one lemon)
2 cups of sugar.
The quantity of fruit used the whole box of pectin – this is not a product like SureJell, where you use the whole box at one time – but you could have made three 4cup batches of jam or jelly with one box of pectin.
For comparison, using low sugar SureJell, the recipe would have been:
12 cups peaches
9 cups sugar.
Just for fun, I looked up the recipe with regular, full sugar SureJell (brace yourself):
12 cups peaches
15 cups sugar.
Now, it is fun to knock sugar, and my jam does taste really fresh because the fruit flavor comes through, but let’s look for a minute at the function of sugar in “preserves” – our jams and jellies. Sugar is a powerful antimicrobial agent in our canned goods, keeping deadly bacteria at bay. These low sugar jams do not have enough sugar to act as a preservative. In my opinion they are not suitable for hot pack canning. That is why I am using this for freezer jam. Furthermore, they may not have adequate acid for safe water bath canning. Please refer to your local county home economist or some “real” recipe, as in the packaging of your pectin, to insure safety.
These jams and jellies will not keep in the fridge for an eternity like your jar of smucker’s grape jelly, either. They need to be eaten up within a week of thawing or opening the jar – no problem! On toast, on biscuits, stirred into yogurt, warmed and poured over ice cream – you will find a way.
Another function of sugar in jellying and jamming is to hold color and brighten flavor. Over time, low sugar preserves may darken. This is natural and is not an indicator that they are unsafe, but if you show them to your grandma, who used 15 cups of sugar in her brilliant, bright jam, she probably won’t be too impressed by your dull orange peach jam. That’s ok, we know why it isn’t technicolor. And while jams with no sweetener are possible, adding just a little does improve the flavor – for an all fruit jam, use apple juice concentrate as the sweetener. In fact, we all think another cup of sugar would have intensified the flavor of our peach jam a little, so next time I will probably adjust the quantity.
So, here is the jam. My big revolutionary idea was to pack it for the freezer in pint size freezer bags instead of jars. I run short on jars, and I plan to just squeeze it out of the bags into a clean jar to put in the fridge when I want to eat it. The bags fit better in the freezer and I don’t have to worry about breakage. I think it will work!
If anyone on my Sunshine for Dinner subscription wants a 1/2 bushel of peaches, call me, 870-653-3062. I can bring it to you for $30.00.