Extension Connection: At-home recipes for sugar-free jelly, jam

Wondering what to do with the abundance of fruits you have from summer harvest?

Consider turning them into jams and jellies, one of the simplest and most rewarding ways to preserve your summer fruits.

Even though most are very sweet, there are excellent low- and no-sugar alternatives. &8220;Regular&8221; pectin recipes require sugar to obtain a satisfactory gel, but there are four methods to produce low- and no-sugar versions.

The first method is to use specially modified pectins. These pectins are labeled as &8220;light,&8221; &8220;less sugar needed,&8221; or &8220;no sugar needed.&8221; The box of packaged pectins will come with recipes for each option. Using these methods allows you to store your product at room temperature.

Another method is using regular pectin with special recipes. Some tested recipes are formulated so the gel forms with regular pectin without needing to add the usual amount of sugar. Keep in mind there is some sugar in the regular pectin. These recipes often use sugar substitutes for additional sweetening. Splenda cannot be used because it does not have a good shelf life.

To use it you would have to keep it in the refrigerator until used up.

A long-boil method can be used to make no- or low-sugar jams. The fruit pulp is boiled until it thickens and resembles a jam, but these spreads will not be true jams with pectin gels. Sugar substitutes can be added to taste for sweetening these products.

Finally, there are some recipes that use gelatin as the thickening agent in jams and jellies. This method allows you to control the amount of sugar that is added to the product. These spreads usually have the sugars from fruit juices that are used for the flavoring and sugar substitutes for sweetness. Jellied products thickened with gelatin will require refrigeration.

Jams and jellies made with traditional recipes using lots of sugar or by the first three methods listed above will require a short process in a boiling water canner to be kept at room temperature in a sealed jar. Once opened, they all require refrigeration.

Additional recipes and canning information can be found at

www.homefoodpreservation.com.

For more information contact Angela Treadaway at 410-3696