Tag Archives | Pomona’s Pectin

Low Sugar Sour Cherry Jam

Capture the fleeting tart cherry season with a batch of whole fruit, sweet and tangy low sugar sour cherry jam.

Last week, I made a small batch of low sugar sour cherry jam live on Facebook, using Pomona’s pectin for set. When people asked me about the recipe, I told them it was already up on the blog from last summer. Because I was absolutely convinced that this was a recipe I’d already published.

However, I started to hear from people that they couldn’t find it. Was I sure that it was on the blog?

Turns out, I never wrote a low sugar sour cherry jam recipe. It must have been a dream. I’ve made this style of preserve a bunch of times over the years and really thought I’d shared it. Oops!

So, let’s dig in. Like so much of my jam making, the recipe you’ll find at the bottom of the post is built on a ratio. For these batches of low sugar jam, I use four parts fruit to one part sugar. You could always drop the sugar level a bit lower, but I find that this ratio leaves me with a jam that is nicely balanced between sweet and tart, and holds its color beautifully.

Two questions come up when I talk about making jam by ratio. The first is, are we talking about calculating by weight or by volume? Because I love my kitchen scale, I typically use weight to work out the proportions. But you can also use volume. The trick is to be consistent. If you start with weight for your produce, you use weight for your sweetener. Same goes for volume. Stick with what you start with.

Second question is about measuring before or after you prep your fruit. Here’s the honest truth. As long as you aren’t doing a massive amount of culling, your batch size is pretty generous, and you’re measuring by weight, it doesn’t matter too much. I weighed this batch of fruit before I started pitting and I had 5 pounds, two ounces. After pitting, I had 4 pounds, 15 ounces. In this large-ish batch, those three ounces won’t impact the finished outcome much.

Now, if you’re measuring by volume, prepping the fruit first is the best course of action, because it’s going to fill the measuring cup best. Additionally, if you’re using seconds and so need to do a lot of culling, doing all your necessary peeling, pitting, hulling, trimming, and chopping before you start measuring and calculating.

Now, for the pectin. I like to use less pectin that the Pomona’s packet instructions call for. Typically, I use between 1/2 and 3/4 teaspoon calcium water and pectin for every pound of fruit. Use less for a soft set and a bit more for a firmer set.

Once all the pitting, prepping, and calculating is done, I combine the fruit with the bulk of the sugar the jam will use. I save out about half a cup to use as the medium with which to integrate the pectin. Then it’s time to cook!

PS – Like the labels I used on my jars up at the top of the picture? Those are these kraft paper labels from Canning Crafts! Love them!

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Honey Sweetened Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Five jars of honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam.

If this post is accurate (which, to my best count, it is), there are at least 14 ways to preserve strawberries in the archives of this site. There are yet more versions in my books. And yet, despite all these approaches, I can’t resist adding this honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam variant to the conversation.

Sliced strawberries in a large pot, with honey drizzling down.

A couple of pieces of advice before you take on this recipe. Number one, use really delicious honey. The flavor of the honey really comes through in this recipe, so you want to use one that tastes amazing (I used some of the honey that Camille from Old Blue Raw Honey gave me when I saw her back in March).

Six jars of honey sweetened strawberry vanilla jam.

My second piece of advice is to get yourself a small stash of grade B vanilla beans from a purveyor like Beanilla. They have all the flavor of the grade A versions, and are markedly cheaper. And if vanilla beans aren’t in the cards for you, a jar of vanilla bean paste is better than vanilla extract, because you’ll still get the speckle and flavor from the seeds.

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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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Pomona’s Pectin Jam Class at The Morris Arboretum

All set up for a strawberry vanilla jam class at the Havertown Library!

The canning season is coming and with it, the start of my teaching year! I wanted to take a moment to point out my May 16 class at the Morris Arboretum. In this class, I’ll demonstrate how to make a low sugar batch of strawberry jam, sweetened with honey and set with Pomona’s Pectin.

This class will dig into the basics of boiling water bath canning and I’ll answer all questions you bring to the class. It’s great way to get yourself reset for the upcoming canning season.

The class costs $40 for Arboretum members and $45 for non-members and runs from 10 am to 12 noon. All participants will go home with a small jar of the jam made in class that day and I’ll also have books available for sale and signature.

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A Pomona’s Pectin and Fillmore Container Giveaway

Preserving with Pomona's Pectin

Hey canners! Pomona’s Pectin and Fillmore Container, two of my favorite preserving-related companies, have teamed up this week to offer a terrific giveaway. Because I’m a huge fan of what they do, I’m posting the rafflecopter code here to help spread the word and let as many people know about the giveaway as possible.

There will be two winners and they will each get a copy of Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy, one box of Pomona’s Pectin, one case of 6 Orchard Road jelly jars (8 oz), including lids and bands, and a lovely stainless steel wide mouth canning funnel.

Plug your info into the widget below to enter! The giveaway closes on Wednesday, August 13 and is open to both US and Canadian residents. More info about this giveaway can be found on the blogs at Pomona’s Pectin and Fillmore Container.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Pomona’s Pectin on Clearance at Williams-Somona

pomona's pectin

Since the weather has been improving, I’ve been treating myself to an afternoon walk a couple times a week. It’s so nice to get out of my apartment for half an hour, move around a little and generally feel like I’m part of the world.

A couple of days ago, I was on one such walk and found that my feet had taken me right to the front door of my local Williams-Somona (it’s a dangerous thing to have one just six blocks away). I wandered in, promising myself that I was just there to browse (and drool over the new Vitamix S30. Have you seen that thing? I am having serious blender envy).

However, I spotted a deal that was too good to pass up. Pomona’s Pectin reduced to $3.99 a box. It’s not a huge discount, but enough of a price cut that I picked up four boxes, which is more than enough to get me through a couple years of canning (and Pomona’s Pectin never expires, so it’s good as long as it lasts).

If you have a Williams-Sonoma and use Pomona’s Pectin, I recommend picking up a box or two.

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