Low Sugar Spiced Peach Jam

August 19, 2014(updated on December 6, 2021)

finished peach jam

For the last four summers, I’ve been invited by the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation to participate in their Canbassador program. Essentially, sometime around mid-summer, they drop me an email and ask if I want to make something tasty with their fruit. When I say yes, the ship a box of delicious Washington-grown cherries, peaches, plums, or apricots.

peach box

Some years, they send me a mix of fruit. Other years, it’s just a single variety. Here’s what I’ve made for this partnership since kicking things off in 2010.

chopped peaches

This year, they sent me a giant box of sweet, juicy peaches. About half the fruit was at the apex of ripeness upon arrival. I triaged the box, sorting the peaches that had to be used immediately from the ones that could stand a couple of days in the fridge. When I was done, I had six pounds of peaches that required immediate action.

And so I peeled them, roughly chopped them, and divided them between a couple of large jars. I added some sugar to help hold them (1/2 a cup for the quart jar and 1 cup for the half gallon), gave both jars a good shake to distribute everything, and plunked them in the fridge for 2 1/2 days while I went down to Washington, D.C. to teach some classes.

peaches in the pan

When I got home from the trip, I poured the macerated peaches into a low, wide pan (in fact, the one I wrote about here). I added a tablespoon of calcium water (Pomona’s Pectin), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and the zest and juice from a lemon.

I brought it to a boil and cooked until the peaches where very soft and the syrup became to thicken. I whisked 1 tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin into 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar and after about 35 minutes of cooking, stirred it into the jam. A few more minutes of simmering to help everything combined and then the jam was done.

cooked peach jam

Funneled into eight half pint jars and processed for 10 minutes, this jam is lighter on sugar than many, but doesn’t sacrifice anything in terms of flavor. It’s a nice one for holiday gifts and eating with fat slices of angel food cake.

5 from 1 vote

Low Sugar Spiced Peach Jam


  • 6 pounds peaches
  • 3 cups sugar divided
  • 1 tablespoon calcium water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon Pomona's Pectin


  • Peel peaches and roughly chop them. Toss them with 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar and let the peaches macerate at least two hours and up to 72 hours.
  • When you're ready to cook, combine the fruit and their juices with 1 tablespoon calcium water in a low, wide pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the fruit is tender and the syrup thickens. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest and juice.
  • Whisk the pectin into the remaining sugar and stir into the softened fruit. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the jam starts to thicken.
  • Funnel into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from the canner and set them to cool on a folded kitchen towel.
  • Once jars are cooled, check to ensure jars sealed. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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31 thoughts on "Low Sugar Spiced Peach Jam"

  • Looks wonderful.
    My neighbor had given me a few peaches a few weeks ago from off her tree and I canned up 3 – 1/2 pints of peach jam and added just a little bit of Almond flavoring extract while cooking the peaches. Oh, did it ever taste good.

  • Hello, Above you mention “. I added a tablespoon of calcium water (Pomona’s Pectin),”, but in the recipe it lists these separately, or are they the same thing?

    1 tablespoon calcium water

    1 tablespoon Pomona’s Pectin


    1. Wendy, yes Pomona’s Pectin is a two part process. The box has two envelopes…one you mix with water (the calcium water) which you add to your fruit at the beginning of a recipe and then the other part (the pectin) which you mix up with your sugar and add later.

    2. These are two separate ingredients. The calcium water activates the Pomona’s Pectin, it comes in a little packet inside the Pomona’s box.

    3. When you buy Pomona’s pectin the box contains two packets: calcium (monocalcium phosphate) and pectin (methozyl citrus pectin).

    4. Wendy, they are two different things. The box of Pomona’s Pectin comes with a packet of calcium powder and another of pectin powder. The instructions in the box will walk you through what you need to do.

  • There is nothing that says summer like the heavenly smell of peach jam being made.
    Now, if I could come up with a truly low sugar recipe, say 1 C sugar to 6 C peaches, I would be happy!

    What does the calcium do for the jam? I have never used Pomona’s, I would have to order it online, but I am tempted to buy it.

  • Oh, how my grandmother would have loved this! She canned and pickled everything in sight, and she often had canned spiced peaches for dessert! The memory makes me smile.

    1. Calcium water is a mixture that helps the Pomona’s pectin gel without the tons of sugar required in conventional pectin brands. It comes in a little packet inside the Pomona’s box. You simply mix the contents of the packet with the required amount of water.

      Calcium Water is when you use Pomona’s Universal Pectin. It is a powder that is mixed with water to activate pectin. If your pectin does not come with the calcium mix then you don’t have to worry about it.

    2. The calcium water is part of the Pomona’s Pectin. You get an envelope of their pectin and an envelope of the calcium water powder. You mix up the calcium powder with water and keep it in the refrigerator to use in tandem with the Pomona’s Pectin. Their pectin is pure citrus pectin with no added sugars or fillers. It allows you to make very low sugar jams and jellies. It’s pretty much the only pectin I use any more. You can find out more at http://www.pomonapectin.com They have a great web site!

  • I just love using Pomona’s Pectin. I’ve used it almost exclusively for the past 2 years. You get great tasting jam without all of the sugar!

  • Yay, peaches! I love the vibrant orange glow of this jam. And +1 to angel food cake (even though I have never made an angel food cake in my life!).

  • I stumbled across your website when looking for a way to preserve all of my peaches. Beautiful pictures and great information – thank you!
    I played around after pouring myself over so much information out there…I did not want to use sugar, or very little because the peaches were intensely sweet already! I ended up using some underripe peaches, chunks of lemon and a very small amount of sugar and had wonderful results – no hot water baths. It has kept well in the fridge for about 3 weeks; I froze the rest and am hoping that it will be just as good when thawed. It taste like sunshine in a jar!

    My question – Could you freeze it instead of using a hot water bath? And, if I also wanted some on the shelf could I put these in a dutch oven with a lid, covered in boiling water for 10 minutes (no canning equipment!)

    1. Any pot that is tall enough to hold the jars when fully submerged can be used as a canning pot. See this post for more detail on that.

      As far as the rough recipe you quoted goes, what is the finished consistency of the preserve. Depending on its density, it may need a few more minutes in the boiling water bath.

  • This recipe makes the best jam that we’ve ever had! I changed the spice content to 1.25 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice and used an immersion blender to obtain a smooth consistency. It tastes like the perfect peach pie in a jar or summer in a jar. We’re making a second batch this morning. Many thanks for sharing the recipe. 🙂

  • This was just wonderful! My peaches only sat about 30 minutes, and I used orange zest instead of lemon zest (we’d already used the lemon zest for a strawberry jam recipe!), but it came together easily and is delicious! My recipe made six half-pint jars. The ping! as the jars seal after processing is one of the greatest sounds in the world. 🙂

    1. I don’t know precisely, as I didn’t measure the fruit in that manner. However, 6 pounds of peaches typically works out to be about 12-13 cups of fruit. However, that’s only an approximation. If possible, you should also weigh the fruit for the sake of accuracy.

  • I just made this jam tonight. It was the first time that I have used Pomona’s Pectin, so it should be interesting to see how it turns out. I was wondering if you might know how much Amaretto to add to this recipe. I used to buy an Amaretto and Peach jam. Thought I might give it a try. Thanks, Terri.

  • I followed this recipe and my jam did not set. I’m going to reprocess the jam with more Pomona’s pectin using the fix outlined on their website. Sad face.

  • Hi!

    I have a few questions:

    1- can I switch the spices to cardamom if I don’t exceed 1-1/2 tsp?

    2- Is it safe canning to cut this recipe in half?

    3- double the recipe?

    4- the lemon juice and zest is for taste only in this recipe, correct?

    5- if I weigh 6lb of peaches, may I run through a food mill instead of leaving in chunks, & skip the maceration process, and still have safe canning?

    I love your recipes! Thank you!!

    1. 1. Yes, you can safely adjust the spices to suit your tastes.
      2. It is perfectly safe to cut the recipe in half.
      3. I don’t recommend doubling the recipe as it can impact the cooking time and quality of the set.
      4. The lemon juice and zest is strictly for flavor.
      5. I don’t recommend that you start this recipe with peach puree. When you try to make jams with purees, they splash wildly while cooking, burn faster, and generally don’t behave well. If you want the jam to be smooth, it’s best to cook it chunky and puree when the cooking process is done.