Tag Archives | low sugar

White Nectarine Jam with Rose Water

This simple, low sugar white nectarine jam uses a splash of rose water at the end of cooking to give it a hint of floral flavor. Try it stirred into yogurt!

White nectarine jam in jars

A couple weeks back, I got an email from one of my regular fruit dealers, asking if I might be interested in a half bushel of white nectarine seconds. Despite the fact that white nectarines need a bit of extra consideration in preserving (they’re lower in acid than their yellow counterparts), I said yes. Because they are transcendently good nectarines.

box of white nectarines

When I was in grad school and on a very tight budget, I’d go to the farmers market each week with $20 to spend on produce. If I was careful, I could get just enough to see me through the week. When these nectarines were in season, I would allocate one-quarter of my budget to spend on them. I would ration them throughout the week, so that I could have a taste of sweetness every day.

white nectarine jam beginning

So to have nearly 25 pounds of nectarines that had once been a major treat? I was all in. I’ve spent much of the last couple weeks working with these nectarines. I combined them with plums for a mixed fruit jam. I’ve pureed them down and made fruit leather with them. And I’ve also turned them into a pure white nectarine jam. This is a jam with plenty of lemon juice to make up for their lower acidity and a tiny bit of rose water, to emphasize the nectarine’s floral nature.

white nectarine jam end

As with all seconds, these needed a little careful knife work to prep for the jam. My rule of thumb when working with seconds is to cut away anything that looks particularly gross, but not to obsess too much over every single shallow bruise. Whenever I’m in doubt, I give it a good sniff. If the bruised part smells fresh and fruity, I use it. If it smells boozy and weirdly off, it gets thrown out.

white nectarine jam square image

The finished white nectarine jam retains a rosy color that I just love. This is one that I’m particularly careful about storing out of direct sunlight, so as to retain that pink hue for as long as I can.

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Strawberry Ginger Jam

strawberry ginger vertical

Strawberry season is breathing its last gasps, and before it’s over for good, I wanted to share one last recipe.

Flat of strawberries

This recipe for strawberry ginger jam is one that I can’t quite believe I haven’t shared at some point in the past. Truly, I thought I’d posted every variation on strawberry jam that was possible. Happily I was wrong.

strawberries in a colander (1)

This jam gets its kick from a goodly application of freshly grated ginger root. I’ve found that there’s no better tool for grating ginger than a microplane zester.

sugared berries

With small berries, I don’t even bother to chop them. Instead, half way through cooking, I go in with a potato masher (this is my favorite) and work them until the fruit is pulverized. It works nicely and saves you a goodly amount of knife work.

finished strawberry ginger jam

Finally, if I’d had my wits about me, I would have canned this one in five half pint jars (as that makes for better quantities for sharing). However, I was clean out of half pints the day I made this jam and so used a motley collection of pints and quarter pints.

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Low Sugar Apricot Strawberry Jam

This sweet, tangy, and bright apricot strawberry jam is the perfect marriage of early season stonefruit and juicy berries. Try it stirred into yogurt or as a glaze for roast chicken.

A stainless steel pan, filled with chopped apricots and strawberries.

Several weeks ago, before the local season for either apricots or strawberries started, I found myself wandering through Reading Terminal Market. I was there to pick up a few things for a recipe development gig, and had no intention of buying out-of-season fruit that had traveled great distances.

A stainless steel pan filled with sugared apricots and strawberries.

I was walking with purpose towards the herbs, when the sight of a pile of tiny, brightly hued apricots stopped me mid-step and I was suddenly powerless to resist them. Before I knew what I was doing, I had a plastic bag in my hand and I was filling it with perfect fruit. With the bag nestled into my basket, I went a few more steps before I was again stopped by a display of incredibly fragrant strawberries. They joined the apricots. This is the not the first time I’ve fallen sway to fruit.

The chopped and sugared apricots and strawberries, after they've sat and gotten juicy.

Once home, I snacked on the fruit a bit (both to get a sense of their state of sweet and tart, and because it all smelled so good) and then weighed out what remained. I worked up a recipe ratio in my head and got to the work of pitted, hulling, and chopping.

The fully cooked apricot strawberry jam.

In the end, I used 2 1/2 pounds of apricots and 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries. Using a ratio of four parts fruit to one part sugar, I measured out 2 cups of sugar, which is approximately 1 pound. I settled the fruit into my Kilner jam pan, added most of the sugar, gave it a good stir, and then let it sit for several hours, so that the sugar could dissolve and help draw the juice from the fruit. Later, I added some lemon juice to help balance the flavors, and used Pomona’s Pectin to get it to set up.

Five half pint jars filled with apricot strawberry jam.

Once cooked, I had exactly five half pints of really delicious jam, that starts with the flavor of apricots and finishes with the strawberry. I typically keep a box of recently made jams and preserves next to my front door, so that I can easily grab things to share with friends and neighbors. However, this is one that I’ve actively kept out of the box, because I want to keep it all for myself. It’s just that good.

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Low Sugar Blackberry Rhubarb Jam

three jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam on a bench

Lately, Trader Joe’s had been selling 12 ounce containers of blackberries for right around $3.50. For those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest, it might seem crazy to pay for good money for blackberries since come August, they’re going to be everywhere. But for those of us who live in less blackberry-rich environs, this is a very good price.

blackberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a pot before being cooked into jam

As a result, I’ve been making lots of preserves with blackberries. I did a batch scented with lavender, and another batch with cinnamon and nutmeg, like my mom always makes. I also did this low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam, encouraged by an email from a reader who asked if I’d ever done such a combination).

I really love how it turned out. Tangy from the rhubarb, rich from the berries, and just sweet enough with a relatively small amount of sugar. If you wanted to make this jam with honey rather than with sugar, reduce the amount to 1 cup and save 1/3 a cup to add at the end with the pectin.

a close up of two jars of low sugar blackberry rhubarb jam

Oh, and if you don’t want to spring for blackberries now, but can get them at a better price later in the season, you can still make this jam. Just chop up a pound of rhubarb now, put it in a ziptop bag, and tuck it into the freezer until August. Frozen rhubarb behaves beautifully in jams.

Finally, if this jam doesn’t float your boat, I’ve got a couple other blackberry recipes in the archives. Perhaps my classic Blackberry Jam or this Blackberry Apricot Jam will float your boat!

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Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam

Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

Last week, a day or two before I left for Portland, I made three batches of jam in rapid succession. The first was a combination of pears and persimmons. The second was a gingery apple butter. And the last one was a low sugar pear cranberry jam.

I meant to share the apple butter last week, and then got lost in travel and the pleasure of being with my parents and thus getting to be slightly less responsible than normal, so it didn’t happen. Because Thanksgiving is looming and I’ve been procrastinating, I thought I’d get this one up first, so that if it appealed to you, there’d still be time to make it before the holiday.

Making Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

And while we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving and cranberries, don’t forget that the archives of this site are bursting with seasonally appropriate recipes. Here are some of my favorites.

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Low Sugar Strawberry Vanilla Jam

cluster of strawberry vanilla jam

Last Friday, I stopped in to Reading Terminal Market to see Annelies and pick up a few things. While there, I wandered by the Fair Food Farmstand and commented on the gorgeous, fragrant strawberries. In response, the operations manager Anne, offered to sell me a flat of seconds*. Cheap.

berry seconds

I am unable to resist fruit bargains and so ended up walking the eight blocks home hugging a flat of berries. I found that people responded to the berries in much the same way they do when I’ve found myself carrying a new baby through a grocery store. They smile at your parcel and murmur under their breath, “Baby! (Berries!).”

hulled strawberries

I made it home, berries intact, and set my load down near the air conditioner to cool (there was no space in the fridge). There they sat until later that evening. When I finally started disassembling the flat, I discovered that these were true seconds and needed careful culling.

discarded strawberry bits

I put on a podcast and sidled up to the sink. I hulled and sliced, ruthlessly eliminating all the bits that moldy, slimy, or had started to smelly boozy. In the end, I had enough berries for some slow cooker strawberry butter (a batch of this, sweetened with cane sugar instead of maple) and a batch of low sugar strawberry vanilla jam.

strawberry puree in slow cooker

I pureed the berries for the butter and set them up on low in my ancient four quart cooker to reduce overnight. I put the rest of the berries into a large bowl and pummeled them with a potato masher until I had about nine cups of pulp. That went into a eight quart pot with 2 cups of cane sugar and 2 split and scraped vanilla beans.

cooking strawberry jam

Now, had my refrigerator not been packed to the gills, I would have put the sugared berry mash in there and kept it cold overnight. However, there was no space in the inn, so I cheated a little. I brought it to a rolling boil for a couple minutes and then turned off the heat. I covered the pot, shoved it to the back burner, and left it there overnight.

steamy strawberry jam

Food safety experts might ding me for this practice, but the quick boil kills off the worst of the bacteria and the sugar acts as a preservative (plus, it was a relatively cool night. I don’t do this during the true heat of summer).

It was entirely fine when came back to it the next morning, and so I pulled the pot back to my most powerful burner, added 1 tablespoon of calcium water and the juice of 2 small lemons, and brought it back to a boil.

strawberry jam overhead

I boiled the fruit for 25 minutes (or so), until it had reduced by about half, was thickening up a little, and the worst of the foaming had subsided. I stirred 1 tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin into 1/2 cup cane sugar and whisked it into the jam in a thin, steady stream so that the pectin didn’t clump.

pint of strawberry vanilla jam

Two more minutes of rapid boiling and it was done. The batch made 4 1/2 pints and I processed them in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. The finished is sweet, but the primary flavor is strawberry. It’s a very good one for stirring into plain yogurt because it doesn’t overpower the pleasing tartness of the yogurt.

empty berry boxes

And remember, you can always treat this recipe as a template. You can add different flavors (strawberries with a little cinnamon and nutmeg is always nice). You can also slice the batch in half if 4 1/2 pints of a single flavor is more than you want in your pantry.

*If you’re in Philly and want in on cheap flats of berries, Anne has yet more. Leave a comment on this post and I’ll connect you.

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