Hello, I have a question in regard to canning jam: I prefer to use less sugar...

Asked January 2, 2017, 6:10 PM EST

Hello, I have a question in regard to canning jam: I prefer to use less sugar and have used the low sugar pectin but would still like to use less sugar. What is the rule for peservation and sugar? Most of what I've read states to follow the recipe but I'm unsure if this is for taste/texture purposes or food safety. Can you help? Thanks!

Union County Ohio home food preservation preserving jams and jellies

1 Response

Sugar in the jam helps make a good gel and prevents the growth of microorganisms besides contributing to taste. Our OSU Factsheet on Jams, Jellies and Other Fruit Spreads (available at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5350) contains the following information on using reduced sugar or without added sugar:

"Jellied Products Without Added Sugar or With Reduced Sugar

Jellied products without sugar or with reduced sugar cannot be made by omitting the sugar in regular jelly recipes. However, they can be made by the following methods:

  • Special modified pectins: These pectins are not the same as regular pectin. They will say "light," "less sugar," or "no sugar needed" on the label. Follow the directions on the package. Some products are made with less sugar and some with artificial sweeteners.
  • Regular pectin with special recipes: These special recipes have been formulated so that no added sugar is needed. However, each package of regular pectin does contain some sugar. Artificial sweetener is often added.
  • Recipes using gelatin: Some recipes use unflavored gelatin as the thickener for the jam or jelly. Artificial sweetener is often added.
  • Long-boil methods: Boiling fruit pulp for extended periods of time will cause a product to thicken and resemble a jam, preserve, or fruit butter. Artificial sweetener may be added.

Follow the directions on the modified pectin package or in a no-sugar recipe exactly. Alterations in the recipe could result in product failures. Because these products do not use sugar as a preservative, be sure to process or store them as directed. Some require longer processing in a boiling water bath and some require refrigeration. "

You can find some reduced sugar recipes on the Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can7_jam_jelly.html. (This is an approved website using scientific research to develop recipes.) Hopefully, one of these will work for you. You should follow recipe to prevent product failures and prevent any microorganism growth. Be sure to use the correct processing time and refrigerate if needed.