Homemade low-sugar jam, made with a little bit of sugar, and a touch of stevia…
I had one of those moments today.
I made something and stared at it for a minute … as if I had just performed a miracle.
Today, I made strawberry jam.
I had never canned before. Canning was something that only perfect, industrious, thrifty, people did.
It was the urge to make jam, that finally made me take the canning plunge. You see, low-sugar, naturally sweetened jam is one of those things, like ice cream and fizzy drinks, that doesn’t exist in grocery stores. Even homemade jam has about 7 cups of sugar for every 8 cups of berries. Gulp!
It didn’t take much to get me inspired to “can”. All it took was walking past that one perfect flat of berries. You can see why I totally fell for this one.
Back at home, my flat and I watched online jam-making videos together. It looked pretty easy, but I quickly realized how ill-equipped I was for the task at hand. I didn’t have a funnel, and my plan to use my BBQ tongs to pull jars out of scalding water was an accident waiting to happen.
So, I sent hubby out on a scavenger hunt to buy some essential canning tools like vinyl covered tongs (To be honest I wish he'd sprung for the kit with the wire pull out rack) while I watched more jam making videos and did some sugar math. I wanted it to be the perfect balance of sugar, to bring out the natural flavors of the berries, and stevia to give it just that extra sweetness. I decided to make a jam with only 1 gram of added sugar per tablespoon. Store jam has about 12.
Once properly equipped, I did my best, canned my jam and then….I patiently waited. The jars were left on the counter overnight to set.
The next morning I excitedly ran downstairs. There was my jam. MY jam!
I pried off the lid, took a bite and sighed. It was terrible!
Terrible that we ONLY had 10 jars to eat!
As the rest of the family trickled in the kitchen, I gave them each a spoonful. They all loved it! Sugar-Loving Teen exclaimed “I like this and I don’t even like jam!”
The next few days were a spiral of canning craziness! I made 20 more jars to get us through winter.
- 10 from sweet organic berries
- 10 into Scandalous Strawberry-Vanilla Jam
I say scandalous, because everyone loved it except one family memeber who felt jam should be left alone. She is obviously not a member of the VBA (Vanilla Beans Anonymous). Just remember, should you choose to go this route, take the pod out before canning or leave a note on the lucky little jar.
Low-Sugar Stevia Jam
*Recipe by Less Sugar Naturally*
- 1 flat of strawberries
- Pomona's Universal Pectin (or similar)
- 1 cup of sugar (1/3 cup each batch)
- 1 1/2 tsp of butter (1/2 tsp each batch)
- 3 Tbsp of lemon juice (1 Tbsp each batch)
- 120 drops of SweetLeaf or NuNaturals liquid stevia (40 per batch)
- Have about fifteen 250ml jars on hand.
- Make the jam in 3 batches...about two quarts (a quarter to a third of a flat) per batch which should give you 4-5 jars of jam each time.
- Measurements in the instructions are per batch.
- One small pot to boil the lids
- One huge pot to boil the jars
- One big pot to make the jam
- canning tongs & funnel
- towels or a wooden surface to set jars on
- Make the calcium water mixture as per directions in package.
- Make the sweetener/pectin mixture. I used 1/3 cup of sugar (sucanat) and 2 tsp of pectin. Stir VERY well, otherwise your pectin will clump.
- While the jars are boiling, wash and hull 8 cups of strawberries. I used a 2L juice container to measure this
- Mash or puree.
- Ideally, you should end up with 4-5 cups of pureed/mashed berries.
- Add berries, lemon juice, and 2 tsp of calcium water to a large pot.
- Add 1/2 tsp of butter to keep foaming down. (optional)
- Bring to a boil, continuously stirring.
- Add sugar/pectin and stir! stir! stir! for 2 mins. No phone calls, texting, dirty diapers, or teenage drama. Your total attention is required here.
- Bring jam to a boil.
- Remove from heat and stir in 40 drops of stevia (or to taste).
- Using a canning funnel, fill up the jars.
- So, here’s where I made a small mistake… I should have filled them up more. Strawberry jam should be filled 1/4 inch from the top rim to give you the best vacuum seal.
- To get a perfect seal, wipe off the rims.
- Add a lid and slightly tighten each one with a ring.
- Boil the jars for 10 minutes, and transfer onto a wooden surface to cool.
- You’ll hear some of the jars popping, but they should all seal. Double check in an hour and refrigerate any that didn’t seal properly.
Once opened (due to its low sugar content) jam is good for about 3 weeks
1 gram of added sugar per tablespoon. Add a full screw on lid for easy access after opening.