One Less Thing To Ever Buy From The Grocery Store!
I have never made jam before, but I thought I'd give it a try now that our raspberries have stopped and our freezer is full of fruit. I never would have thought we could actually produce enough fruit to eat some while they're fresh, freeze some for later, and make jam for the year. I think we can definitely do that next year since we plan to increase our amount of strawberry plants next year. When we first started trying to grow our own food I was amazed we could even grow anything. Then I was amazed we could actually grow enough of one veggies to cross it off our grocery list. It was strange the first time that happened and really cool. Every year we seem to cross one or more items off the grocery list. I love it grocery sopping is so much easier and cheaper now! This year it's jam. We figure we use on average 7 jars of jam a year. So far this year we have produced 17 lbs of strawberries and almost 5 lbs of raspberries (our harvest is pretty much over but we will still have a fall harvest too). I used 4 cups of strawberries and 3 cups of raspberries (both of whole fruit), and it made 2 pints. I ended up cooking it for a long time to get to boiling point (due to the stove burner being to small for the pan), so I think it cooked down a lot and should have made 3 pints otherwise.
A Recipe For Disaster?
In creating this recipe, I knew there was a good chance it would not turn out. I had many things going against me to begin with, I have never made Jam before, I was trying to make jam without added sugar, and I didn't follow a recipe instead I made up my own. Most rational people would at least try to make jam once first following a recipe to the letter, but not me. I'm fearless in the kitchen that way. A recipe for disaster? Surprising no. It turned out fantastic! By far the best Jam I've ever had. The taste was complex, bright, fruity, and sweet. The texture was better than I was expecting. I thought it would be a bit on the lose side, but to me it was pretty firm and spreadable (see the picture of it on a spoon below).
My Thought Process Creating This Recipe
I did a lot of research before developing this recipe. I found that it is difficult to make jam without sugar because this is what actually helps preserve it and helps to create the jelly texture. I know from developing recipes anytime you try to substitute an essential ingredient (an ingredient that is necessary in a recipe due to chemistry not flavor) to a recipe you might be asking for trouble. My other problem is I found by reading a post at Homesteading at Redtrail Ridge's post that stevia can have a bad bitter after taste in jam. This is no surprise to anyone who uses stevia. It's my favorite no sugar sweetener, but I do always use caution with it due to it's bitter after taste. I often try to balance it with just a touch of real sweetener (maple syrup or honey whenever possible). Hmmm... I continued to research and found that you can replace the need for sugar with juice concentrate. So you are adding sugar but at least in a natural form. I liked this ideal more, but I was concerned about adding any real sugar to it even in a natural form. But I was also scared to try it with no real sugar and only stevia after my research. My solution? Try both! I ended up actually having 1/4 a 12 oz condensed juice can I had in the fridge anyways and just a little stevia.
How I Altered Sure Jell's No Sugar Recipe
I used the Sure Jell no sugar recipe as my guide (the recipe on the box I used said to use 3/4 cup of water to 3 cups of fruit). I noticed the recipe only called for 3 cups of fruit and would make 1-1 1/2 pints. Say what? I want at least 2 or more pints and I have tons of fruit. Since I didn't know how this recipe would turn out I didn't want to make a lot but at least 2 pints. Since my husband said he liked when I just cooked down raspberries once with no pectin, I figured it was a safe bet to double the fruit used in the recipe, since their cooked sugar version used 6 cups of fruit. They said you could use frozen grape juice concentrate as a substitute for the water, so since I substituted 1/4 can instead of a whole can I reduced the water I used to 1/2 cup from 3/4 cup. The original recipe I used called for 1/2 cup of splenda. Well if you follow this blog you know I'm not using that! Please don't use any chemical sweeteners, it's so bad for you! Watch the documentary Sweet Misery here on HULU to learn why. I use stevia an all natural no calorie sweetener that really is a plant. I even grow it myself. I knew I wouldn't need as much as 1/2 cup of stevia, so I guessed at 2 tablespoons and it seemed good to me. You can always add more if you like it sweeter. Extra bonus is by using less stevia you keep your costs down, since it isn't cheap.
No Added Sugar Strawberry Raspberry Jam
(Makes 2-3 pints see notes at end of post)
- 4 cups of whole hulled organic strawberries (fresh or frozen, not with syrup I used frozen from our garden)
- 3 cups of organic raspberries (fresh or frozen, I used fresh from our patch)
- 1 1.75 oz box of No sugar added pectin (I used Sure Jell)
- 1/2 cup of filtered water
- 1/4 can of organic juice concentrate (I used apple cherry)
- 2 tablespoons of stevia
- 3 pint jars and one half pint jar and lids (to make sure you have the right size jars for how much you end up making see note at end of post) Make sure they are freezable if you will be doing freezer jam
- water bath canner and canning equipment
- metal canning funnel (using plastic can leach chemicals into your preserves due to the heat)
- metal ladel (using plastic can leach chemicals into your preserves due to the heat)
- 6-8 qt saucepan, could probably get by with 4 qt if you don't have
- wooden spoon
- thermometer (optional but it helps)
- potato masher
If Your Canning
Before starting to make your Jam prepare your canner with hot water and keep it simmering and covered. Heat your jars and lids (3 pint and one half pint just in case) in hot NOT BOILING water until you’re ready for them.
If Your making freezer jam (not canning so you place it in the freezer until ready to use)
Make sure your jars are clean and sterile, also make sure the jars you use are freezable, or they may explode in your freezer. It should say it on the packaging when you buy your jars.
To Make The Jam
- Place half your fruit into the 6-8 qt pan and mash with a potato masher, add the rest and continue to mash until they're are no big chunks left.
- Add 1/4 can of concentrated juice, and 1/2 cup of filtered water to the the prepared fruit, in the 6-8 qt saucepan. Gradually stir in the pectin. You can add 1/2 tsp of butter to reduce foaming if you need it. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (that still boils when stirred), stirring constantly. The Ball Blue Book said to 8 degrees above your areas boiling point (you can test boiling water with a thermometer to be sure of where eater boils where you live). Add your sweetener, if desired. Remove from heat and skim foam if you have any.
- Ladle the hot jam into the hot prepped jar leaving 1/4 in. head space. Clean the rims and threads of the jar. Center the hot lid on the jar, allowing the sealing compound to meet the jar rim. Apply the band and adjust until it is fingertip tight on all jars. Follow the following instructions on canning or making freezer jam depending on what method you plan to use.
- Place the jars in the canner and make sure the water level is 1-2 inches higher than the tops of the jars. Place the lid on the canner and bring the water to boil.
- Process the jars for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the lid once processing is complete. Let the jars stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars and set them upright on a towel to cool for 12 to 24 hours. After cooling, make sure all the seals are sealed. There shouldn’t be any give. If your jars are not sealed, use it within 3 weeks or place in the freezer (only if your jars are freezable) as soon as it is at room temperature. If sealed properly, label and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to a year.
- Ladle into sterile freezable jars be sure to give 1/2 inch headspace, as the jam will expand after it sets and then freezes. Let stand until set, up to 24 hrs, then freeze.
My Notes on this Recipe
- I was a bit confused about whether I had reached a rolling boil or not while making this, so I turned the heat down while I read my Ball Blue book to see what it said. Since it said it should be cooked 8 degrees above boiling, I began to monitor the temp and was waiting for it to get to 220 degrees since boiling water should be about 212 degrees. The temp was like 150 degrees at this point. It took along time to get the temp any where near 212 degrees, due to my tiny crappy stove burner (it was all I could use since our canner is so big it blocked my other burners.
- I think it got to about 180 degrees when I called it quits cause I could tell I had boiled it down a lot already. So I should have made 3 pints but it ended up being 2 pints, so depending on how long it takes you to get to a rolling boil this recipe should make 2-3 pints.