Monday, June 15, 2009
How to Make Organic Low Sugar Strawberry Jam and Fruit Topping
Emily Saetern shows me her father's strawberry farm in Sebastopol, California.
A flat of strawberries. Enough for jam and much more!
Healthy jam on whole grain toast.
Use as a healthy fruit topping on your favorite ice cream.
Save the tops in the freezer and use in your morning smoothie.
My Search for Healthy Jam
I’m not sure when or why I started making jam, but whenever I see ripe fruit, I feel compelled to mash it up and put it in cute little jars. The funny thing is I almost never eat it because it’s full of sugar. I’ve tried “low sugar” recipes but they still had tons of sugar. Sure-Jell’s “low sugar” recipe brags that it’s 25% less sugar their regular pectin product. But for every 6 cups of strawberries, they call for a whopping 4 cups of sugar. And this is the LOW sugar recipe. Their normal recipes actually call for MORE sugar than fruit! In my frustration, I have opted over the past several years to freeze my excess fruit from my trees and use it in my morning smoothies. But I never lost my desire to make a healthy jam. (Those little jars are just so darn cute!)
So you can only imagine my excitement when I discovered Pomona’s Universal Pectin that allows you to make actual “low sugar” or even “no sugar” jam with the proper consistency and that tastes more like fruit than candy!
The secret of their pectin is that it depends on calcium to set the jam, not sugar. So you can make jam with a small amount of sugar, or use honey, fructose, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar or stevia. Since this was my very first attempt using Pomona, I opted to use organic cane sugar (1 1/2 cups for 8 cups of mashed fruit), about a quarter of what is called for in Sure-Jell’s “low sugar” recipe. I will try to make it with Stevia next time but for now, I will tell you that this strawberry jam came out terrific. It’s light, fresh and tastes like actual fruit! The only problem is that you will want to eat it with a spoon right out of the jar. And, it’s only 12 calories per tablespoon.
Strawberries are in season here in Sonoma and you see them featured in every grocery store. My favorite place to buy strawberries is at Lao Saetern’s strawberry stand about 1 mile east of Sebastopol on highway 12. They are grown without pesticides and are the most delicate tasting strawberries I’ve ever eaten. We went there the other day to buy a flat (12 pints) of strawberries and Lao’s daughter Emily was nice enough to show me the farm. We walked down a long dirt road to find acres and acres of fresh, enormous strawberries—as far as the eye could see. If you are ever in Sebastopol, this stop is a must. Many of the strawberries are picked that hour or even while you wait. And, the prices are very good, especially for pesticide free strawberries.
Use this fresh jam on toast, waffles or pancakes or as a topping for ice cream.
Organic Low Sugar Strawberry Jam and Fruit Topping (makes 9 cups)
8 cups of mashed organic strawberries
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 package Pomona’s Universal Pectin (contains pectin and calcium powder)
The following recipe is from the Pomono package:
Before starting, make calcium water:
1. Put 1/2 t white calcium powder and 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar with lid.
2. Store in refrigerator between uses. Lasts a number of months – discard if settled white powder discolors.
3. Shake well before using.
Instructions for low sugar strawberry jam:
1. Wash and rinse jars; let stand in hot water. Bring lids and rings to boil; turn down heat and let stand in hot water.
2. Prepare strawberries. Remove hulls and stems and mash. (I save the tops and put them in a freezer bag for use in my morning smoothies). Measure 8 cups of mashed strawberries and put into a pan.
3. Add 4 teaspoons of calcium water into the pan and stir well.
4. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix 1 ½ cups of organic sugar with 4 teaspoons of pectin.
5. Bring fruit to boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture; stir vigorously 1 to 2 minutes while cooking to dissolve pectin. Return to boil and remove from heat.
6. Fill jars to 1/4 inch of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2 piece lids and put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Remove from water and let jars cool. As they cool, the seals-lids should be sucked down (you’ll hear them pop). Lasts about 3 weeks once opened.
Per tablespoon of jam: 12 calories, .1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, .1 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates and .3 g of fiber.