Tips and Tricks for low sugar preserves

With only 4-6 weeks left before strawberries are in season here in Ontario and with the rhubarb in my garden growing noticeably with each passing day, I have been starting to think about all of the jams and jellies I will make this summer. I have also been thinking more and more about the sugar that goes into each of them. I have done a post in the past about the role of sugar in preserving because I think it is important for people to understand that it actually has a very important role and that it isn’t just part of the recipe because people expect jam to be sweet. Generally the fruit is sweet enough.

But even though sugar plays a role, there are options out there for people who want to reduce the amount of sugar in the preserves they make at home and there are a couple of great blog posts written that include some pretty fabulous resources as well as a couple of pretty tasty recipes that you can start off your low sugar preserving with.

Aimee does a great job in this post of outlining resources that are available to those that are interested in learning more about low sugar preserving and she includes a pretty tasty recipe for Apple Butter

Dr. Williams overview on Pamona’s Pectin and how it works in low sugar preserving as well as her recipe for Organic low sugar strawberry jam makes this post well worth the read.


If you are interested in learning more about low sugar preserving, want to see Pamona's Pectin in action and feel like trying your hand at it first hand, I am offering a class at The Depanneur on Monday, May 27th. It will cover the following:


Understanding the role of sugar in preserving is an important first step to understanding how you can reduce the sugar in your jam without sacrificing quality and taste. In this very hands-on class, we will look closely at the role sugar plays and make a full sugar as well as a low sugar jam so you can examine the difference in taste, texture and consistency.

You will walk out of this class with the basic understanding of jar sterilization, safe canning practices and important do’s and don’ts of canning and preserving. You will also get a copy of both recipes to take home and at least 1 jar of jam each.

Tomato Jam - duelling recipes

Until last week I had never even heard of Tomato Jam, but when I stumbled across a recipe for it during a Google search, it sounded too good to pass up. When I posted my intentions on my facebook page it received a variety of responses from "Yum" right down to my favourite comment from my Uncle Rudy which was simple and to the point "Yuck". I wondered which way it would turn out. The recipe called for 8 cups of sugar which seemed like a lot to me.

Now if you are like me and anywhere near approaching the Big 40, you realize that things like 8 cups of sugar tend to stick in places it never used to :). With this in mind I decided right out of the gate to reduce it to 6 cups and forged ahead. The end product is delicious but still a touch to sweet for my liking. So the search was on to find a recipe that maintained the deliciousness of my first attempt but that reduced the sweetness.

I settled on this Tomato Jam recipe because it called for 3 cups of sugar...and on top of that it is a great blog that you can spend hours cruising around for ideas and recipes. So I suggest you check it out.

I followed the recipe in every way except for the tomatoes. There were some great ripe Ontario tomatoes on special for 99 cents a pound and with my friend Andi's recent addiction to couponing fresh in mind decided to go with the less expensive and might I add 'locally grown' tomatoes instead. Keeping the tomatoes on a boil for 30 minutes concerned me at first because I am used to the slower reduction...but I love the time it saved and the end flavour wasn't impacted negatively in the least. And I love anything that saves time.

More than half of the sugar called for in the first recipe I tried and the end product is fantastic. Spoiler alert for friends and family - I will be giving jars of this stuff out as Christmas gifts.