Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Several of you asked if I have a low or no sugar option for jam making. Or if I tried making jam sweetened with stevia.
I had not, though Regina, who wrote the series here on natural sugars, had shared her recipe with me. It did always bother me to dump cup after cup of sugar into a batch of jam. My alternative was to just stop eating jam. In the past few years we have eaten very little jam, saving it for only a rare occasion when I didn't really care if we consumed some sugar.
But this year we had a bumper blackberry and red raspberry crop. I thought that maybe I should try making some jam with stevia. So I called my friend Regina and asked her to tell me again how she made her stevia jam. With some trial and error (and a batch that was more like a raspberry syrup) I have some completely sugar-free jam that we love!
First I tried using blackberries. Since they were so seedy, I decided to strain out the seeds. I cooked the berries in a cup of water, then put them through a small food mill. If you didn't have a food mill, you could use a sieve.
I tried to get as much as the pulpy juice out as possible.
Then I cooked the pectin, stevia, and water for several minutes (detailed recipe below) and stirred it into the fruit juice. After cooling, I had a great blackberry jelly! And a berry stained bowl for the children to fight over who gets to lick clean!
For red raspberries, I wanted to use the whole fruit, without straining out the seeds. Using my food processor, I crushed the berries into a pulp.
Then I measured out my berries and added the right amount of the pectic/stevia water.
It helps to have a willing helper for all the stirring!
Now they are in freezer containers and waiting for us to enjoy yummy berry goodness all winter!
Caution: Since this jam contains NO sugar, it may not keep as well as regular jam. Sugar does have a preserving affect, in other words, that huge amount of sugar in jam inhibits bacteria from growing. Without the massive amounts of sugar, this jam is more like fresh fruit, which obviously does have a shelf-life - even in the fridge.
From the research I've done, the recommendation is to not store in the refrigerator for longer than two weeks. Longer than that should be stored in the freezer. For my family, eating a container of jam in two weeks is no problem! I did push a container to the back of the fridge to see what it looked like in two weeks and there was no sign of mold or bacteria. So I think this can be safely used for a couple weeks.
Freezer Jam with Stevia
3 cups crushed fruit (or fruit juice/pulp if you have strained out seeds)
1 tsp pure powdered stevia
4 T low or no sugar pectin (Sure Gel or other brand, I like to buy it in bulk instead of the small boxes.)
1 cup water
Mix stevia, pectin, and water in a pan and bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Pour into fruit and stir for four minutes. Pour into freezer containers and place in fridge. Cool for three hours. Freeze.
Option: Regina likes to add about 1/3 cup of sugar for added sweetness. I did not add any extra sugar. You may want to taste your fruit and adjust to your taste depending on the sweetness of your fruit.
Regina also added some water to her fruit, especially for strawberries and blueberries. Her children thought that it was too "fruity" and watering it down (maybe 2 cups of fruit and 1 cup of water to make 3 cups of crushed fruit) was more to their liking. Plus it helped stretch her fruit.
I'd love to hear your experience with making stevia jam!