Low Sugar Jam

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Our topic today is low sugar jam and jelly (along with sugar free jams and jellies).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love canning low sugar jams. I actually experimented with NO sugar jam a few years ago, and I discovered that my family prefers SOME sugar. These days, we stick with lessening the sugar instead of totally eliminating the sugar in our jam.

I figure it’s a condiment and not something you eat by the spoonful, so I’m happy with just less sugar. 🙂

But still, there’s one thing you should know about canning low sugar jam…

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The Pitfall of Low Sugar Jams and Jellies

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.

Low Sugar Jam

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. Many people will keep it even longer.

Storing Low Sugar Jam on the Shelf

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.)

Jars of slightly discolored low sugar jam lined up next to each other outside.

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.

Storing Low Sugar Jam in the Fridge

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.

Pectin for Sugar Free Jam

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.

A package of Pomona's Universal Pectin.

Pomona’s Pectin

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.

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Page last updated: 6/16/2021.

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3 months ago

Hi I made no sugar added cherry jam last year using Sure Jell pink package. One year later everything is still fine. Seemed normal in the fridge. Maybe the fruit used matters? Trying blueberry next. We loved what the cherry jam was like!

1 year ago

Thank you for all the great information. Do you know how long low-sugar jam will safely keep in the fridge if without the canning process? A tomato jam recipe says 3 weeks, but I would like to halve the sugar. I can freeze this at home, but would also like to give some as gifts.

Holley Elford
Holley Elford
2 years ago

I just finished reading an article re low sugar jam canning and it said it wasn’t the sugar that kept the jam but the processing in a hot water bath. So, which is it or is it both.

Rachel Abernathy
Rachel Abernathy
2 years ago
Reply to  Holley Elford

The hot water bath is what makes it safe for shelf storage. The sugar does preserve the quality of the jam somewhat too, however. Hope this helps!

-Rachel (Sharon’s assistant)

2 years ago

We use Pomona’s Pectin exclusively. I concur that the preserved fruits don’t last as long on the shelf.
I still prefer Pomona’s Pectin lower sugar recipes vs a jar full of sugar.

3 years ago

I found the same issue with my peach jam but berry jams appear to last better than peach. Has this been your experience?