Low Sugar Red Raspberry Jam

In 2006, as part of the worldwide Annual Independent Food Festival and Awards hosted by Hillel of Tasting Menu, I presented the The Best Excuse For Not Making It Yourself Red Raspberry Jam award to Summerfield Farm in Placerville, CA, for Art Summerfield’s Reduced Sugar Red Raspberry Preserves.

Why are Art’s jams so good?

Low Sugar Art uses a lot less sugar than regular jam, which means that you can taste more of the raspberry; it’s not smothered under excessive sweetness.

Small Batches Art makes all the jams himself, in small batches – 4 to 5 gallons at a time. This way he can get heat the berries up quickly, get them to 190°F to kill any bacteria, and cool them quickly. Art told me that most people cook their jam too long. All you need is enough cooking to kill the bugs. Beyond that, the more you cook it, the more flavor you lose.

Because the jam has much less sugar than regular jams, it is more perishable. Sugar works as a preservative, with less sugar you have less natural preservative. The jam should be kept in the refrigerator, even if it hasn’t been opened, and should be eaten within a couple of months. The jam won’t go bad, but it will lose its color and flavor over time.

Low Sugar Red Raspberry Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs raspberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • Pomona's Universal Pectin (a special, highly re-active pectin for making low-sugar jams and jellies)

Method

1 In a stainless steel pot, combine raspberries (whole, do not mash them) and water. Begin heating on medium high heat. Stir occasionally, then frequently as the fruit gets hot.

2 In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of Pomona's pectin with 2/3 cup of the sugar. Mix thoroughly. When the fruit reaches 200°F (use a candy thermometer) reduce heat to low. Slowly sprinkle in the pectin mixture while stirring. A sifter with a squeeze handle works well.

3 Stir the fruit/pectin mix for 3 minutes. Maintain temperature at 185°F to 195°F. Do not boil. If the mixture seems very thick, add a little more water.

4 Add the balance of the sugar while stirring. The sugar will cool the mixture. Heat as necessary to keep the jam at about 185°F.

5 Adjust the heat to hold the jam at the filling temperature of 185°F. Skim off any foam and fill fill into sterile jars, leaving hot headspace of 1/4 inch. Headspace will increase as jam cools and shrinks. Cap each jar immediately after it is filled.

6 Process the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 5-10 minutes. The red raspberry jam will have better color if processed for only 5 minutes, but a shorter shelf life. After processing let the jars cool undisturbed for 12 hours.

Notes on recipe:

Low sugar jams have a shorter shelf life than regular jams. If possible, store unopened jars in the refrigerator. Opened jars must be refrigerated. Typical shelf lives are:

Unopened jars, refrigerated: 6 months
Unopened jars, not refrigerated: 3 months
Opened jar, refrigerated: 2 months

Freeze your berries then thaw before jamming. Berries that have been frozen are softer and are less likely to burn.

Pomona pectin calls for the addition of calcium (supplied with the box) when making low sugar jam. The pectin reacts with both the sugar and the calcium to gel. If you are using whole raspberries, the seeds in the raspberries contain enough calcium and you do not need to add more calcium. If you are using seedless raspberry purée, you will need to increase the pectin and add calcium.

If the jam foams badly, you may be applying too much heat. Lower the burner setting and do not let the temp go over 200°F.

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Outside of Sacramento, a little past Placerville on the old Pony Express Trail, Summerfield Farm opens to the public in early June and stays open through early fall. (800) 251-2451

One Comment

  1. Gail

    I love the jams from Summerfield’s Farms. Everything I’ve ever bought from his stand has been tasty! The low sugar jams are fantastic!!!
    I try to get by there each year when I venture up to Apple Hill…but if I am unable to get there to restock my supply, I’ve been able to get some of them at David Berkeley’s on Fair Oaks Blvd. in Sacramento.

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