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making plum jam - can i decrease the sugar called for?

tastycakes Jul 30, 2009 03:07 PM

how do i adjust for this? i'm making a simple plum jam from the chez panisse fruit cookbook. it's just fruit and sugar cooked til set.

  1. l
    lgss Jul 30, 2009 03:12 PM

    You might be able to substitute 1/4 c of the sugar with xylitol.

    1. goodhealthgourmet Jul 30, 2009 03:21 PM

      are you trying to cut down on the sweetness or the calories? (if it's a sweetness issue, substituting something else like xylitol defeats the purpose.) a little pectin will help it set up/gel properly if you want to use less sugar.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
        Vetter Jul 30, 2009 09:22 PM

        If you go the pectin route, I highly recommend Pomona's Pectin. It sets with the use of a little calcium instead of sugar-- it's super easy and well worth the hunt. My Coop has it and I've seen it at conventional grocery stores occasionally.

      2. paulj Jul 30, 2009 04:23 PM

        Especially if this is your first time with jam, or with this recipe, best stick with the recipe. The sugar isn't just for sweetness.

        1. goodhealthgourmet Jul 30, 2009 04:37 PM

          if you want to try the pectin route, this Eating Well recipe only calls for 1-2 cups of sugar for 12 cups of fruit...


          i also dug up this recipe for Low-sugar Plum Jam that doesn't call for actual pectin, but includes apples in the recipe (which contribute natural pectin)...


          1. amyzan Jul 30, 2009 06:40 PM

            Plums do have a lot of pectin, especially if you cook them with the skins. But, you will definitely want to test to be sure it gels before putting up the whole batch. This can usually be accomplished by putting a sample in the freezer to cool quickly. Of course, if this jam is going to be Christmas gifts or served to your MIL, for example, consider going by the recipe. If it was just for me and the family, and the only risk is that it might end up plum pancake syrup, I'd experiment. Your choice, of course.

            1. r
              rtms Jul 30, 2009 09:23 PM

              The sugar is a preservative too. I wouldn't reduce the sugar if I was making jam, especially if I'm making jam for the first time. Try checking out the Bernadin website http://www.homecanning.com/can/ or some other reference to learn more about canning and preserving food.

              However, if you're making small batches for personal use, you could freeze the clean and prepared fruit and make a bit a plum jam (with less sugar) for use a week or two at a time.

              1. PBSF Jul 30, 2009 09:43 PM

                I wouldn't decease the sugar. I've found that of all the summer stone fruits, plum is the most difficult to thicken and also requires the most sugar to offset their sourness. Many people who do not make jam are surprised by how much sugar is needed to make a good tasting jam.

                1. paulj Jul 30, 2009 09:46 PM

                  There was a question last weekend on The Splendid Table about using non-processed sugar in jam. The caller was have problems with it not gelling. Lynne pointed out that with liquid sweeteners it is harder to get the jam to the gelling temperature (above boiling). An alternative is freezer jams, which don't need the sugar for either gelling or preserving.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: paulj
                    Pantry Party Aug 13, 2009 07:17 AM

                    Hi tastycakes,

                    I just made an apricot-plum jam (more plum than apricot), with 4 cups fruit and 4 cups sugar (the recipe called for 7 cups sugar) using liquid pectin and it turned out perfectly, with a great, silky set texture and a lovely sweet-tart taste. As notes, plums have lots of pectin so they set well.

                    I know that sugar acts as a preservative but I just make sure to eat my jams (I often use less sugar than the recipe calls for) within about 6-9 months, rather than a year or a year and a half. I like the taste better this way. Of course, I process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes as well.

                  2. s
                    selena03 Aug 13, 2009 10:31 AM

                    I have made a berry jam recipe I saw in the Cooking Life section in Bon Appetit magazine and reduced the sugar by 1 cup and it still turned out really good. The first time I made it, I followed the directions for 2 cups and it was too cloyingly sweet. I still added the tbs of lemon juice and it made for a sweet/tarty jam that we preferred to overly sweet.

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