Canning 101: Can You Preserve With Artificial Sweeteners?

sweeteners

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a Canning 101 post about the different roles that sugar plays in preserving. This was my attempt to conclusively answer the questions I regularly get from people wanting to reduce the amount of sugar in their preserves.

There was one thing I didn’t address in that post and that was question of artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, Equal, Truvia, or xylitol. Personally, I don’t work with artificial sweeteners much simply because I don’t like the way they taste. I do understand, though, that for some folks it is necessary to use these products as a way to cut back on sugar. So here we go.

First, let’s talk about the situations in which artificial sweeteners aren’t going to work. When you make jam in the traditional manner, you are relying on the fact that as you cook, the sugar you added to the fruit is going to thicken as heat is applied, eventually thickening to the point where it bonds with the conventional pectin (either natural or added). If you remove the sugar from the equation, the jam is never going to set.

Sure, you might be able to boil it down into something to stir into yogurt, but it’s not going to be jam. What’s more, lots of the artificial sweeteners become bitter during extended cooking, so if you added your sweetener at the beginning of the cooking and then boiled the heck out of the fruit for 45 minutes, the finished product may well be inedible.

What this really means is that you can’t take a traditional recipe for jam, swap in Splenda and think you’re going to get anywhere near the same result. I know this might feel frustrating to some of you, but truly, this advice will save you buckets of aggravation in the long run.

So, here’s what you can do. You can use pectin that was designed to work in low or no-sugar environments. There are a couple different versions out there. Ball makes a special modified pectin and the package insert will be able to guide you through the process of creating serviceable jams.

Pomona’s Pectin is another good option. Known as low methoxyl pectin, it’s requires both a pectin made from citrus peels and a calcium solution. Instead of needing sugar to trigger the set, the calcium activates the pectin. This means that you can make spreadable preserves with whatever sweetener you choose, including a wide range of artificial sweeteners.

Another option is to start making fruit butters rather than jams and jellies. When you make a fruit butter, you cook a fruit puree at low temperature for a long period of time. In doing so, you remove much of the moisture, and concentrate the natural sugars in the fruit. You can then either leave it as-is (though the juice of a lemon or two will help preserve the color and brighten the flavor) or adjust it slightly with the artificial sweetener of your choice.

Just remember, as discussed in this blog post, when you reduce or remove sugar, shelf life and the quality once open shortens. I combat this by making low sugar or sugar-free preserves in small batches and canning them in four ounce jars, to ensure that they are as good and fresh as I can make them.

Related Posts:

, ,

13 Responses to Canning 101: Can You Preserve With Artificial Sweeteners?

  1. 1
    Pete says:

    Yep. You simply cannot expectthe same chemical reaction when different chemicals are used in the formula.

  2. 2
    Robin says:

    Another good low sugar pectin is Dutch Gel All Natural Lite. It’s my favorite. I get it in bulk at my local Amish store.

  3. 3
    Jo-Ann M says:

    I make a lot of sugar-free jams & jellies. First, I use Pomona Pectin. The sweeteners & use are concentrated stevia & agave. Some diabetics can handle agave, some can’t. You’re correct about the shelf-like & the opened life not being as long. I make small batches, and tell everyone to use within a month once opened.

  4. 4
    Renee J. says:

    Another point to consider when using artificial sweeteners is that most of them are many times the sweetness of sugar – and therefore only a small fraction of the quantity of sugar in a recipe can be used, as well as not being sufficiently heat-stable. I’ve been making (and selling) sugar-free jams using Pomona’s Pectin and xylitol. Pure xylitol is measured equally to sugar, although additional pectin must be used, as well. The xylitol does not become bitter during prolonged cooking, and the resulting jams last very nearly as long on the shelf and in the refrigerator as those made with sugar.

  5. 5
    james court says:

    looks like sugar can be useful for somethings.

  6. 6
    WendP says:

    My only thought, when I read the title of the post, was, “Why would you want to?”

    • 6.1
      Julie says:

      Type I diabetes comes to mind.

      Part of why I make jams is to avoid corn syrup, the other to make them lower in sugar than commercial products. Still, mine have plenty of the sweet stuff. Sugar-free jams never taste quite right to me.

  7. 7
    Eliot says:

    Truvia and xylitol are a natural sugar substitutes, not artificial sweeteners. Truvia is a brand of stevia-based sugar substitute.

    I’ve seen recipes that use fruit juice concentrate as another alternative to sugar.

  8. 8
    James says:

    I am new to canning, so with that being said, I have a couple of questions. One. I tried to make strawberry jam but did not use the pectin. I did use real sugar. I followed someone’s advice who said I did not need the pectin. As you probably already guessed, I have a runny syrup type of Jam. The question is this: Will the jam last as long without the pectin? Question two. I made a salsa today, and as I was taking the jars out of the canner, I was tipping them to get the excess water off. Some the lids stared to pop right away. The question is this: Do I have to toss those jars that I tipped where the lid popped?

    Thanks for your response .

    • 8.1
      Marisa says:

      Pectin doesn’t play any role in safety, so your runny strawberry preserves are entirely safe. All the pectin would have done would have been to help make a firmer product.

      And your salsa is fine. If the jars sealed, all is well. The popping is a good sign. It means the jars sealed.

Leave a Reply to Robin Click here to cancel reply.