A few summers ago, when I was pregnant with my third child, we went strawberry-picking. This in itself was not unusual, we love taking the kids to Pick-Your-Own farms. What was unusual was the amount of strawberries we came home with. We unwittingly went on the day of this particular farm’s Strawberry Festival, and the only size of container that we were allowed to buy was their flat. This rectangular box would normally hold six smaller, quart-sized containers, and it didn’t come cheap, so we piled it as high as we possibly could with the sweet, red berries. And by “piled”, I mean PILED. A veritable mountain of strawberries.
What do you do when life hands you a mountain of strawberries? Make strawberry jam, of course. It was my first canning experience, and I tackled it without a canner, just a large stockpot, some Ball jars and some fruit pectin. A few hours later, I had four and a half pints of strawberry jam, and I don’t even like strawberry jam! I also had several burned fingertips from wrestling hot jars in and out of boiling water. But I thoroughly enjoyed the canning process, and my husband, thoughtful soul that he is, gave me a real canner for Christmas last year.
I’ve had a lot of fun with my new kitchen toy and I don’t think the fun is over yet. But traditional jam, with it’s high sugar content, isn’t high on my list anymore. Fortunately for jam-loving diabetics and other low carbers, there are pectins that don’t require any sugar at all and set up just as nicely. Pomona’s Universal Pectin can be used with low sugar, no sugar at all, or any number of alternative sweeteners, including stevia.
So after taking the kids peach-picking this summer, I decided to tackle jam once again, but this time, sugar-free. I had it in my head that cardamom would be a nice addition to peach jam, and considering how many hits a google search turned up, it would seem I was right. None of these recipes were sugar free, so I decided to work with the recipe that came with the Pomona’s Pectin box, sweeten it with erythritol and add in a little cardamom, and at the last minute I decided to add a dash of vanilla as well.
The Results: I honestly didn’t think that the jam was going to set properly. Even after it cooled, it had a liquidy quality in the jar and I thought it was a failure. I figured it would make a tasty sauce of some sort, and I popped the jars into the pantry for a future use. A few days later I decided to check on them again and was happy to discover that the jam had jellified (or jammified?) further upon being left alone. Another few days and I decided I needed to taste it. And it’s good. Really, really good. The reduced amount of sweetener lets the peach flavour really come through. The cardamom is there without being overpowering and the vanilla is really subtle and sweet. I am thrilled with the results of my very first sugar free jam!
I’ve had it on some low carb toast, but it’s good enough to just eat with a spoon. Unlike storebought sugar free jam, it doesn’t have any splenda aftertaste. I also used it to make some low carb jam thumbprint cookies, and if you are good boys and girls, I may share that recipe with you too!
Peach Cardamom Jam adapted from Pomona’s Universal Pectin
A few notes before we begin…
– This recipe assumes that you will be using Pomona’s to make your jam. Pomona’s Universal Pectin uses calcium to help jell fruits and vegetables and these steps will be included in this recipe. Before you start jamming, you will need to make up the calcium water, by putting 1/2 tsp of the calcium powder and 1/2 cup water in a clear jar with a lid. Shake well. It can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.
– You can make freezer jam with Pomona’s but the instructions are a little different. Follow the instructions that come with the pectin.
5 cups peeled, chopped peaches
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup granulated erythritol or sugar OR 1/2 cup honey or agave syrup
2 tsp freshly ground cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp pectin powder
4 tsp calcium water
In a large saucepan, bring peaches, lemon juice and water to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash peaches with a large spoon or potato masher or a hand blender, leaving some chunks. (If your peaches are really soft, you could skip the simmering step. Just combine peaches and lemon juice in a saucepan, with no water, then mash them up).
Wash and rinse jars and let stand in hot water in canner. In a smaller saucepan, bring lids and rings to a full boil and then let stand in hot water.
Add calcium water to peach mixture and stir well.
Measure out erythritol, sugar, honey or agave into a separate bowl. Add pectin powder and stir to combine thoroughly.
Bring fruit to a boil again. Add pectin/sweetener mixture and stir vigorously for 2 minutes while cooking, to dissolve the pectin. Return to a full boil and then remove from heat. Off heat, stir in cardamom and vanilla.
Fill hot jars to 1/4 from the top. Wipe rims clean and screw on lids. Return full jars to canner with enough water so that the tops of jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring water to a boil and boil jars for 10 minutes.
Remove jars from water and cool completely. Check seals by removing ring and lifting top lightly with your fingertips. If it does not come off, the jar is sealed properly. Additionally, the middle of the lid should be sucked downwards and not pop back if you press on it.
If your jars did not seal, the jam should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten with in 3 or so weeks.
Your jam may take a few extra days to set properly, as mine did. If it’s still a little liquidy in the jar, even after it feels cool, give it a few more days and it may set up.
Makes 5 cups or approximately 80 one tablespoon servings of jam. There are 5g of total carbs per tablespoon, but only 3.4g if you subtract erythritol.