Saturday, May 26, 2012

No sugar added strawberry preserves

I often get asked if it’s possible to make a natural pectin strawberry jam with stevia or Splenda.    Unfortunately, the answer is no, because pectin needs sugar to set up properly.   There are some pectin products on the market that allow you to use non sugar sweeteners,  but  I wanted to try my hand at making something totally natural out of fruit for people that would prefer not to eat sugar.  
I really like the fruit products made by American Spoon, an “Up North” (as we call it in Michigan) purveyor of fine foods made of local fruits.   Last year, I made my own version of their Cherry Berry Spoon Fruit, which is a fruit juice sweetened spread – no sugar added.    I was eagerly awaiting strawberry season for this year, so I could try out the same technique with strawberries.  It was an all out success!

Strawberry season arrived early this week - we had a really mild winter and warm spring here in Michigan.  I picked up the first of the season berries this morning at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market for $4.50 a quart.  A quart of berries is about 1.5 lbs, and a pound of berries yields about 3 cups halved and hulled berries.   The beauty of this recipe is that it uses no added sugar - it's naturally sweetened with fruit juice.  

Strawberry Spoon Fruit
makes about 6 half pint jars

12 cups halved and hulled strawberries (purchase 4 qts)
10 tart apples (like Granny Smith) peeled, cored and chopped small
2 cans (12 oz) frozen apple juice concentrate

Heat all ingredients in a preserving pot (I like to use my cast iron enamel dutch oven) stirring often until the fruit has thickened considerably.   It will foam up during the process, so make sure to use a deep enough pot.  

The foam will dissipate eventually and the mixture will thicken until it mounds up on a spoon. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. The result is a fruit preserve perfect for those that are trying to limit their sugar intake.   It's a bit tangier than strawberry jam, and a little looser set than jam or jelly, but I actually prefer it to jam.  The strawberry taste is much more pronounced than in jam.   Enjoy!


Em said...

Thank you so much:)! First year canning and I need all the help I can get going natural.

Em said...

Thank you so Much:)!!

Tricia said...

Sounds fabulous!

AnnMF said...

Can orange juice be used instead of apple juice? I like my preserves thick, so it doesn't run all over. Was yours thick enough not to run?

Thank you.

Cynthia said...

Sure - you can try orange juice concentrate, but I think it will make it taste orangey. It is thick and chunky, not runny.

Terri said...

Do you think it would work the same for peaches? I have been searching for a recipe for just this type of preserves! Thank you :)

Cynthia said...

Yes, I think it would work for peaches, give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

Kara said...

Approximately how long did the cooking process take before it was thick enough>

Cynthia said...

Kara, it takes about 45 minutes to thicken.

duck snyder said...

Hey do my husband and I made a few batches of this preserve and we love it. Thank you out has been a life saver. However we have a batch that we think may have molded or something. We were wondering if the natural sugars ever separate leaving a white bubbly ring of foam at the top of the jars?