Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I've been trying to make sugar free jelly

I haven't been blogging because I've been in my kitchen experimenting.

The goal - to make an all natural sugar free jelly that tastes good.

The problem - sugar is a big part of what makes jelly "jell" so making one without any sugar is tricky. I don't want to used processed nutrient dead calorie rich white sugar. I also don't want to use artificial sweeteners. It also has to be gluten free and casein free. Since sugar also acts as a preservative in jellies, if I do succeed it will probably have a shorter shelf life.

I didn't want to use honey or maple syrup for fear they would add too much flavor - I really want to taste the fruit.

I decided to use stevia for my first trials. I also picked currants to be the fruit since I have a bumper crop of them this year and I won't be upset if I ruin a batch or two.

Batch #1 was a complete bust. It did not jell at all and wasn't even thick enough to use as syrup. It was also way too tart.

I decided to increase the pectin and the stevia and try again.

Batch #2 was better. It jelled. A soft jell that set up a little firmer in the fridge - definitely a texture I could be happy with. But it was still way too tart.

I'm not sure what to do next. I'm not sure if I need to add more stevia or less. Stevia can get bitter if you use too much so you want to use it sparingly. It wasn't bitter though so I think I could add more - or should I just switch to a different sweetener?

I'm going to mull it over a bit before I give it another go. I'll keep you all posted and post a final recipe and pictures when I get it all figured out.


Tam said...

I've been trying this too.

I did strawberries and used apple juice to sweeten it. It tasted great but it didn't gel. I think I needed to boil down the juice longer before adding the sugar-free pectin.

I did some raspberry too. That one did gel. I added some sucralose to it though. The apple juice just didn't have enough umph for the tartness of the raspberries.

Good luck in your search.

Aimee said...

We've been making no sugar jams and jellies this summer. We discovered Pomona's Universal Pectin at the Seward Co-op. It jells with any amount of sweetener. The least amount we've used is 1 tsp of honey per half pint. That little amount of honey hasn't caused any change in flavor and I think almost everything we've made has jelled beautifully.
We've done strawberry, cherry, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb, currant, apple, and raspberry.

Of course, I'm also worried about the low levels of sugar and how long the jams will keep. But we've never done this before so it's an experiment. If they start going off, I'll have to make a ton of biscuits and invite everyone in town to come over for biscuits and jam. =)

Connie said...

I was going to suggest Pomona's I see Aimee did. I have used it a lot in the past and my jams always turned out well, with low sugar. I used small amounts of honey. There is a recipe book called "Putting it up with Honey"....maybe your library would have it? (I always used less honey than the recipes called for.)

Eve said...

Try here: this is strawberry but it might help you.

Organic jelly

Anonymous said...

I've made batch after batch of, sugar-free and low-sugar jam this year, both freezer and canned. Almost all of them have set up beautifully using Ball "No Sugar Added" pectin. It's great stuff, the trick is to add the pectin to just the fruit and bring it to a full roiling boil for 1 minute, then add in the sweetener and bring it back to a full roiling boil for another 3 minutes. Honey and real Maple Syrup are fantastic sweetener sand used in small amounts do not change the flavor of the fruit at all. Honey is also a natural preservative as it prohibits the growth of fungus, mold and bacteria. I haven't any experience with currents, but you might consider mixing another fruit with it. I made rhubarb-strawberry sweetened with apple juice and blueberry-cherry sweetened with sugar-free blueberry-cran juice. Current might be quite tasty with a bit of apple sauce from your spotty apple tree.