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Homemade Goodness?


I bought about half a flat of strawberries yesterday, and I wanted to make some freezer jam without adding any sugar. The berries were so sweet that I thought it might just work.

Freezer jam is about as easy of a thing as you can make. It requires no skill, only the ability to follow a few simple directions, which I guess is sometimes pretty challenging for me. I usually make the kind that uses liquid pectin so there is absolutely no cooking – crush fruit, add sugar, pectin and ladle into jars. Pop it in the freezer and you are good to go – no canners or sterilizing involved.

I tend to get a little obsessive-compulsive about the entire process so I generally end up with enough jam to last about 12 years at a time. The only problem being the jam has about a year shelf life before it gets syrupy, but you can always pour it over ice cream at that point – yum. The last time I made it, I opted instead to share it with friends – it does make a great little gift.

The only weird thing is that you have to make it in single batches because doubling affects the way it gels. You begin with about six cups of crushed or finely chopped fruit (depending on the directions and the fruit you are using), which yields about 5 cups of jam.

The first time I ever made it, I was shocked by the amount of sugar – holy crap, no wonder it tastes so good!

Over the years I tried to alter recipes adding less sugar, but I never quite made it work. The taste was off and the consistency didn’t resemble anything you could spread on bread, maybe stir into a margarita??? I maintain no knowledge of the science of pectin and how it gels schtuff so I learned to just follow the recipe without deviation.

This year I tried a no-sugar recipe that used fruit juice to sweeten the mixture. It is not nearly as sweet as what I used to make or what I buy in the store. My test kitchen aka. Russell was not home last night to give me the real low down so I guess I’ll need to wait to see if I want to make another batch or revert to the old high-sugar recipe and just control portions.

Omitting the sugar makes the jam a much more manageable compliment to other food. The entire jar only has about 170 calories and 2 grams of fiber. Traditional varieties probably have that many calories in a couple tablespoons. I’ll let you know what my human garbage disposal says.

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