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I love to make homemade jams and jellies, but absolutely do NOT like how much sugar goes into the recipes. So this summer I did some experimenting with using the no-sugar pectin. Using this pectin allows you to add no sugar at all, or just a little sugar, or honey, or agave, or whatever other sweetener you like. You just have to follow the directions that come with the no-sugar pectin. Well, my first experiment was making some blackberry jelly with the no-sugar pectin and adding about 2/3 cup of honey as the sweetener. Well…it wasn’t sweet enough and the jelly was pretty tart. Any ideas how I can use up some pretty tart jelly? 🙂 The berries I was using (from our own vines!) were just not very sweet and so the juice was pretty tart to start with. So I decided to just use the regular pectin and use organic sugar to sweeten. I made about 20 pints of blackberry jelly this week!
What I wanted to share with you today is a very easy way to make some grape jelly that has a lot less sugar than regular store-bought jellies. We LOVE grape jelly at our house, so this recipe is a keeper. You start with 100% Grape Juice (no sugar added). Make sure it says 100% juice! Then you will need some no-sugar pectin, and 1 cup (you might get by with even less) of organic sugar or Sucanat. That’s it! Well, you will need some jars, lids, and rings!
Here is the recipe:
4 cups 100% grape juice (I just buy some frozen concentrated and mix up a batch of grape juice in a pitcher to use)
1 box of no-sugar pectin
1 cup organic sugar or Sucanat **See thoughts below from a reader!
Put the 4 cups of juice in a large pot. Stir in the pectin until it is dissolved. Heat the juice and pectin mixture until boiling. Add sugar and stir constantly until it comes to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and ladle into jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space.
Put lids and rings on the jars and put in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool completely before removing rings.
When cooled, wipe down jars checking that each lid sealed, label and store.
Note: If you don’t have a water bath canner, you can also just put the lids and rings on, turn the jar upside down for a minute or two, then turn right-side up. Let cool as described above. The jars might seal ok this way. You will hear the lids pop when they seal. The ones that seal can be stored as normal. Those that did not seal will need to go into the refrigerator. OR if you know you will use this right away, just store the jars in the refrigerator and don’t worry about canning them at all. I knew of one mom who just made up a batch whenever they were getting low on jelly and just put the jars in the refrigerator. Have fun! **See comments below from a reader about using this “upside down” method. Another idea – if you don’t have a water bath canner, is to just use a large stock pot with a round cooling rack in the bottom of it to keep the jars off the bottom. This is what I use and it works great!
Variation: I bet you could use different juices to make this jelly. If you want to be able to not use much sugar, find juices that are naturally sweet. Just make sure you get 100% juice!
**Some wise thoughts from a dear reader:
I have found, through much experimentation, that going too low on the sugar will give you a product which will mold very quickly once opened. This is OK if you’re going to use it up within a week or so but if, like me, you often have multiple jars open at once, you may end up throwing product away – a terrible thing! I have found that going no lower than 1 1/2 c. sugar per 4 c. fruit (approx. for most recipes) is about as low as I can go & get a product that is acceptably lower in sugar for me, yet will still last a few weeks in the frig. When you consider that “regular” pectin has you use 8 c. of sugar for 4 c. berries, the “low-sugar” version has 4 c. of sugar for 4 c. berries …. I think 1 1/2 cups is a pretty good compromise! By the way, if you are using the Pomona’s, you can use any amount of sweetener you need … they do suggest, though I’ve never done it <g> to make a small batch first & check for sweetness since fruits do differ from batch to batch. Should’ve done it with my orange marmalade this year … =(
Lastly, I would urge caution on suggesting that the “turning upside down method” of processing jam will seal properly. I know people did it for a lot of years but with low sugar jams and jellies, the lid may “seal” but the product not really be hot enough through and through for it to seal safely. I think the mega-amounts of sugar in older recipes helped to “keep” the jam.