The floodgates have opened and the bounty of local fruits and vegetables from the fields of Lepp Farms and trees of Castanho Orchard are taking over the produce department. Pickling cucumbers, crunchy green beans and strawberries have all arrived from our fields, and apricots, early peaches and transparent apples from Osoyoos. It’s time to dig out the canning equipment and I want to tell you about Pomona’s Pectin, and how to make a low-sugar jam.
My very favorite jam is apricot, and I can still remember the way my mother used to make it. Being very thrifty, she always drastically cut back on the sugar called for in the recipe, letting that slight tartness from the apricots through into the delicious taste, but it was always quite runny. As seasoned jam makers all know, sugar reacting with the pectin is what makes the jam set, and the Certo that my mother’s recipe called for was no different. Imagine my joy when I discovered Pomona’s Pectin, a product that relies on calcium (already included in the package!) to set, rather than sugar, and I was finally able to make a low-sugar jam that set perfectly! Although Pomona’s has been around for 30 years, I’ve only just discovered it in the past few years. I knew right away that I needed to make it available to all of you, here at the market!
Pomona’s Pectin packages all include instructions for every kind of sweetener, so you can freely play around with the recipe to suit your needs.
I’d rather let them tell you exactly how it works, so here in their own words.
“Pomona’s Universal Pectin is the only pectin on the market that is sugar-free, has no preservatives, and jells with low amounts of any sweetener.
It is a low methoxyl type pectin, which means its jelling power is activated by calcium (included in the box with the pectin), not by sugar content.
With Pomona’s, home jam-makers are free to make cooked jam and jelly and freezer jam sweetened precisely to their taste; and they can use low amounts of any sweetener, including sugar, honey, stevia, fruit juice concentrate, agave, maple syrup, xylitol, sucanat or any other sweetener.”
Pomona’s has an excellent website with lots of recipes, an informative FAQ section, and you can even call their “jam hot-line” during business hours with any questions you may have.
If you’re new to the canning game, then I also highly recommend these two websites, as well as their facebook pages and newsletters for lots of great tips and instructions. Food in Jars is still my favorite resource, but Seattle’s Northwest Edible Life is also great and Erica can have a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor, which I love!
What you’ll need:
- Sugar or sweetener of your choice
- Lemon or Lime Juice (for certain fruits, see instructions)
- A box of Pomona’s Pectin.
What I love about using Pomona’s is how flexible it is. You can make a double batch of jam at one time, and you can half, double or triple the recipe and adjust the sweetener of your choice. The instructions included in the package are clear and easy to follow, and I followed them exactly with one modification. An important thing to remember is that the master recipe calls for “mashed fruit” and getting that measurement correct is essential to getting a good set. Most fruit is soft enough to mash, but to get an accurate measurement for the apricots I first simmered them with a bit of water, mashed them and then measured them, as the recipe suggests.
After talking to people who had used it, I knew I didn’t want my jam to set quite as thickly as the suggested pectin would make it, so I did some research on their excellent website. I found the information that says you can safely cut back on the pectin but that you should continue to use the amount of calcium water called for in the recipe. I have cut the pectin back by one-third each time I’ve made it, so with the apricot jam I reduced it from the recommended three teaspoons to two teaspoons, and have been very happy with the consistency. Not runny, but not thick like a jelly either. They also give you a range of sugar you can use, from ¾ cup to 2 cups, and I used the full amount of recommended sugar, which is still only about one-fourth of the sugar that a box of regular Certo uses. Now my jam has just the right amount of tartness for my taste!
I have not tested the jams with any other sweeteners, so I’d love to hear about your experience if you give it a go!
I’ve successfully made strawberry, apricot and sour cherry jam with Pomona’s and each time cut the pectin back by one-third the amount called for in the recipe printout. I also made a red currant jelly last summer but as I wanted a firm set for the jelly I didn’t cut back on the pectin at all.
You can find all the directions for making jam using Pomona’s here.