Hello ladies! Who does not love delicious, homemade strawberry jam? The store-bought commercial brands don’t come anywhere close to the fabulous taste of jam made at home with local, seasonal strawberries. The problem with traditional jam recipes, however, is that they are LOADED with added sugar.
The first time I made strawberry jam, the conventional way, the recipe called for 4 1/2 cups of strawberries and 7 cups of sugar. Thats almost twice as much sugar as fruit! While it is of course very tasty and sweet, I just couldnt see myself making multiple batches of jam that was so filled with empty calories. I wanted to find a recipe that would allow me to preserve the summer harvest in a tasty way that would offer better nutrition for our family when we eat it throughout the year.
Bernardin, along with other companies, make a pectin mix that will allow you to make jam without sugar. All you need is the pectin mix, 4 cups of fruit, and 1 cup of fruit juice. I was stumped as to what kind of juice I would add to strawberry jam that would not overpower the flavour of the strawberry (apple? white grape?).
In my last post, I talked about making and canning strawberry puree as a means of preserving our local, seasonal strawberry harvest. I also mentioned that I discovered a useful bi-product of the puree-making process, a rich, thick strawberry juice, that I realized would be ideal for making sugar-free jam. As I was able to get 2 cups of strawberry juice from my puree, I was able to make two batches of sugar-free strawberry jam.
For the first batch, I followed the directions to the tee and used only the cup of strawberry juice for sweetening. The jam turned out fabulously, set beautifully, and had a rich, if somewhat tart, summer-fresh strawberry flavour. For my second batch, I decided to add 3/4 cup of maple syrup for sweetening. This extra liquid did interfere a tad with the pectin-setting and made the jam a tad softer, but still adequate and the maple syrup gave it just a bit more sweetness.
I highly recommend the two-step process of first making a batch of strawberry puree and then using the remaining juice to make sugar-free jam. It’s a much healthier way to preserve and enjoy your summer fruits and gives you that extra sense of accomplishment when you realize you’ve even made the juice needed for the recipe! As always, be sure to read up on proper canning and storing procedures. Happy Jam Making!