Our topic today is low sugar jams and jellies (along with sugar free jams and jellies).
Now, don't get me wrong, I love canning low sugar jams. I actually experimented with low sugar and sugar free jam a few years ago, and I discovered that my family prefers SOME sugar. These days, we stick with low sugar jam instead of sugar free jam. I figure it’s a condiment and not something you eat by the spoonful, so I’m not concerned. :)
But still, there’s one thing you should know about canning low sugar jam...
What's the pitfall? Low sugar and sugar free jam doesn’t last as long!
When making jams and jellies, the sugar acts as a preservative. There are options for making a lower sugar product, but it just doesn’t last as long on the shelf or in the fridge.
Usually, it’s recommended that you use home-canned foods within a year. This is because quality starts deteriorating after the first year. Most foods, as long as they've been canned properly and don’t show any signs of spoilage or broken seals, will last longer than a year. (You just want to make a plan to use it up after that first year.)
Personally, I’m comfortable using jam that is 2-4 years old, just because there’s so much sugar in it and I’ve never had any problems using jam of that age.
However..... As I’ve experimented with low sugar/no sugar jam, I’ve found it doesn’t last as long in the jar. The food starts deteriorating, as you can see by the discoloration in the pictures. (That's where the food has oxidized at the top of the jar.)
I made peach-pineapple 4 years ago, and now it’s a little brown on the top of the jar. The quality isn’t as good, and I know my family probably won't use it because it looks unappealing. :) In the future, I shouldn’t make that much at once. I also had this problem with honey peach and low sugar peach. Sugar free jam might even be more pronounced.
With that in mind, make only enough jam/jelly for a few years, knowing it won’t keep much longer.
Once opened, low sugar jam doesn’t last as long in the fridge either. When you open jars of full sugar jam, they keep for several weeks. But I've noticed that low sugar/no sugar jams start molding and spoiling much more quickly.
When I open a jar, I try to remember that it needs to be used up in a week or two.
I still like and recommend low sugar/sugar free and jellies. Just don't make too much...or make it in large jars. Since my kids have grown and we have only three people at home now and don’t eat much jam anyway, I use very small jars.
When you are going to make a low sugar jam and want a pectin product. I highly recommend Pomona's Pectin. Any Ball product is fine too, but it does include dextrose, so it depends on just how purely no sugar you want to create.
Pomona's Pectin is for those who want to cut sugar in their canning! Designed to work with very low amounts of sweetener, this is perfect for making low sugar jams and jellies.
Page last updated: 9/13/2019.