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Processing Fruit w/o Sugar: is this just impossible?


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I have half a dozen books on canning and even then ones that say no sugar are still full of sugar.

 

We A.D.O.R.E the flavor of fruit and find it perfectly sweet by itself. When we make jams, jellies, compotes, butters, et c., all the recipes have sugar. Well, me make do. Mostly b/c we do.not. like it so sweet, we don't make much of them to begin with.

 

We're putting in more fruit this year and I've been looking through my canning stuff once again looking for recipes that don't have sugar. I can't find any. There are some that don't have white sugar and call themselves sugar-free but then call for reduced juice concentrate and things like that.

 

Is there no recipe out there for canning fruit (jams, jellies, compotes, et c) w/o sugar? I'm willing to sacrifice a little in the appearance of the fruit for the plain-fruit-with-no-sugar taste.

 

Anyone?

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I'm looking for alternatives as well. One of the things about the fruit recipes is that many of them rely on sugar as the preservative. So, the jars aren't processed like vegetables are and then a parafin wax seal is supposed to be placed around the ring.

 

I'm going to try an experiment this year...who knows if it will work. I have a boy that loves strawberry jam so I'm going to try using the unflavored gelatin as a thickener and just a mild amount of honey which is anti-bacterial as well. I don't really care about the look as long as the food is properly preserved. We don't like all of the sugar in the average fruit recipe either.

 

I'll post here if it works. Sorry I don't have anything more constructive to say. I am new to fruit preserves as all of my other canning has been vegetables, applesauce (which I add no sugar to and process in the canner for about 20 minutes), meats, and legumes.

 

Faith

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Try Pamonas Pectin. This helps to set the fruit to a thicker jam like state but you don't have to use any sugar if you don't want to. Last year I made raspberry jam using the Pamonas Pectin and honey. I cant remember my ratios but oh boy that was the best jam ever!!

 

Pamonas is more expensive per box but when I calculated it out last year it actually ended up being cheaper per jar. I will never use regular pectin again.

 

ETA: Last year I also canned peaches and pears. I would take a pot of water dump in a bit of honey and that was it. I would cook the fruit down per the directions and just use the water/honey/juice mix to pack the fruit in. It was incredible! I think I used *maybe* 2 pints of honey for over 200 jars of fruit.

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IIRC, the sugar is as much to help the gelling of the product as the taste. I have read that slightly unripe fruit has much more pectin than ripe fruit, so you might want to try to incorporate a bit of less ripe fruit in your mixture. I would consider pureeing it in the blender prior to adding it to your jam, since less ripe fruit tends to be firmer. I believe I also read somewhere that less ripe apples and pears tend to have the most pectin, so you might want to consider a combination product, but always process according to the longest time required for any of the consitituent ingredients.

 

I think if you process it up to the proper temperature for the fruit product alone, and/or add a bit of lemon juice or ascorbic acid if the recipe calls for it, that the sugar content shouldn't affect the bacteria content all that much. My reasoning with this is that you can process most fruits whole, or as slices, in a non-jam product with no added sugar and not have bacteria problems.

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We put up some peaches last June and my husband tried it without any sugar. They are awfully tart! I think perhaps certain fruits need a bit of sugar more than others. My mom would always do applesauce in her Squeez-O-Strainer and never put any sugar in, and it was always yummy.

 

Even our baby makes faces at the peaches, lol!

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I have canned fruit without any sweetner of any kind many times - especially peaches, pears, plums and applesauce. (I never use sugar w/applesauce.) The main difference I notice between canning without and with a very, very light syrup is the color and appearance. The fruit canned with a very light syrup retains its color and looks better. As far as taste, we like canned fruit just fine without any sugar. I have also on occasion canned fruit with 1 tablespoon of honey in ea. quart jar. Also, if I do use a syrup, I take the recipe for a light syrup and still halve the sugar.

 

Remember to keep your fruit in a solution of water/ascorbic acid while peeling and preparing it to retain the color.

Edited by Ishki
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Last summer I made reduced sugar peach jam for my grandfather who is diabetic and I used the Ball pectin that says 'no sugar needed' or something like that. I did still add a little sugar, but only 1 cup where the recipe called for 6 cups. It set up fine and was tart but still tasty.

 

Also the website pickyourown.org has recipes for very low sugar or no sugar canned fruit.

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You can definitely do *less* sugar, along with pectin. . . but most (all?) recipes require SOME sugar. . .

 

Note that the sugar impacts the gelling & the shelf life as well as sweetness. . . .

 

You can consider freezing the fruit and/or preserves w/o sugar. . . that would work just fine.

 

I used to make a lot of preserves instead of jam. . . We lived in raspberry country (N Utah, mmmmmm) and SO loved those preserves on pancakes, ice cream, etc. . . They required a lot less sugar than jam recipes, so preserved more fruit flavor.

 

Anyhow, if you have freezer space, feel free to experiment on freezer jam recipes w/ little sugar, but do be careful to follow recipes for canning to ensure shelf life & safety. . .

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I guess it depends on how you are preserving. I freeze the bulk of my fruit and none of that gets sugar. I absolutely love eating frozen blueberries.

 

As far as making jam, I use Pomona's Pectin. WHile it still uses sugar or juice concentrate you can really play around with the sugar since it's jel isn't based on the sugar (it's some calcium something or other that causes the jel). I made the most fabulous apricot jam last year that really tastes like apricots not the super sweetened stuff you get in the store. It also makes the most incredible freezer strawberry jam.

 

As far as canning goes, I think I've heard of people canning with just water and not a simple sugar. I would check out gardenweb because they they lots of experienced canners there who could tell you if there is a safe recipe without sugar.

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I can applesauce without sugar all the time.

 

Jams/jellies? I usually reduce the sugar to very low (for instance the recipe may say 4 cups of sugar...I'll start with 1 cup or 1/2 cup and cook by taste from there). I've also made jam with Splenda and with nothing. It was rather thin but my son was eating it and he didn't mind. I own another book that cans with honey but I haven't used it yet.

 

Generally you don't need sugar, but sugar does help preserve and solidify. Without it you may need sugar-free pectin and you may need to keep an eye on the results if you keep it long term (usually its okay, but I like to keep mine in the freezer just in case).

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I have *only* used boiling water in my peaches and pears and they were great! We get the peaches at peak and have never noticed a tart flavor. We can applesauce every year as well w/o anything added. The kids have a little shaker jar of cinnamon that they use to add to the applesauce but if you're using the right apples, sugar isn't necessary.

 

With jam though I tried no-sugar pectin and I ended up with syrup. :glare:

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