Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Oct 9, 2012 09:21 PM

safe to reduce sugar in home-made jams?

When a mainstream recipe calls for sugar, I typically reduce the quantity by a third or a half, to get something suited to my Californian taste buds.

I recently bought a bread/jam maker. Their strawberry jam recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar to two cups of chopped strawberries. So I used just 1/2 cup sugar - tasted terrific. (Kept the third ingredient: 1 Tbsp lemon juice.) It was maybe even a bit too sweet - after all, strawberries are naturally sweet.

So I was considering cutting down the sugar to 1/4 cup or less, when I read on the 'net that the sugar added to jam serves a preservative function.

Is this true? Am I running a risk of botulism poisoning (or just mold) by not adding the prescribed amount of sugar to my jam?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you just putting this in the fridge to eat fresh or are you actually canning it?

    3 Replies
    1. re: rasputina

      Not canning. Putting it in the fridge in a glass jar (not vacuum sealed or anything) to eat over a few weeks.

      1. re: fadista

        Hmmmm...I would like to know the answer too! I made what I guess would be a plum conserve after getting overloaded with plums from my CSA. It has been in a jar in my fridge for about 4 weeks and I used minimal sugar when cooking it down. I figured as long as it doesn't mold I am that indeed true or should I pitch it?

      2. If it's a recipe that uses pectin, the risk with less sugar is that it might not set. Pomona Pectin is a brand that DOES allow you to reduce or eliminate the sugar without risk of making syrup instead of jam.

        Botulism is anerobic, so no worries there if it's a fridge jam. It's possible or likely that a very low sugar jam wouldn't keep as long in the fridge as a heavily sugared one, just as fresh strawberries and strawberry jam differ in fridge life. I would consider both edible until/unless they're moldy. You can always freeze it instead and just pull what you know you'll use up in a week or two.

        1. I suggest if you want to reduce the sugar, you should consider freezer jam.

          1. I often throw in a few apples as they are high in natural pectin

            1. the prescribed amount of sugar is very important if you are canning the jam. If you are freezing or just storing in the fridge, it is not an issue, albeit it may last a shorter amount of time in the fridge/freezer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cocktailhour

                the prescribed amount of sugar is very important if you are canning the jam.
                Sugar content will affect jelling depending on what type of pectin is used but does not present or create issues beyond what applies to all jam canning.