The last many years the summer and autumn has been a time for me to experiment and stock up my cupboards with preserves, both of the sweet and pickly kind. I used to live in an intentional community where I one summer made around 60 jars of jam and 80 jars of sweet jelly…. all thanks to the abundant produce from the community gardens and lots of sugar! Now I live in the city and must for the moment contend with what I can forage on the cycle paths and fruit that I buy.
I love making things myself, but at the same time I am very aware of how much sugar goes into jams and jellies etc – I was pretty much sugar-free for about 8 years, eating only honey, agave,maple and date syrup. No actual sugar or glucose/ sucrose/ golden syrup etc passed my lips for that entire time. The time that I spent being sugar-free definitely helped stabilise my blood sugar (I had a tendency to hypoglycemia) and now I can eat anything again without getting blood sugar lows. However, I am still aware of the dangers of eating too much sugar, so when I decided to make Apricot Jam this year, I decided to make it a Reduced Sugar Apricot Jam.
Normally when you make jam you will use equal amounts of sugar and fruit – and a source of pectin if the fruit that you use is low in pectin. Reducing the amount of sugar might affect how the jam sets as well as cooking time – which can then affect the consistency of the jam. However, the jam still turned out delicious – and less sweet than it would have otherwise been! Now to the recipe:
800 g roughly chopped apricots (stoned weight)
150 ml water
600 g sugar
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Put the apricots in a pot with a thick bottom. Add the water and cook till the apricots are getting soft. Add the sugar and lemon juice and simmer. The lemon juice is essential as apricots are not very high in pectin. You need to simmer for between 10 – 20 min before testing whether the jam has set. The way I test is by putting a sideplate in the fridge at the beginning and when I’m ready to test if it has set, I put a bit of the liquid on it and put it back in the fridge for a minute or so. If the liquid has formed a skin when I push my finger through it has set.
When the jam has reached setting point pour it into sterilised jars that are still warm (if the temperature difference between the jam and the jar is too great, the jar will crack). Fit the lids immediately and tighten as much as possible. I sterilise my jars in the oven. I first wash them in soapy water, rinse well and then put them all on a baking tray and into the oven at about 150 degrees C. I consider them sterilised when they’re completely dry. This probably isn’t a completely scientific method, but it has always worked for me!
The jam is delicious, with the fruitiness of the apricots being really prominent. The consistency is a bit more dense than usual apricot jam, which I’m sure is due to the longer cooking time, which again is due to the reduced amount of sugar. Worth it, I think, just to feel a bit less naughty when piling on the jam! If you try out the recipe please let me know the result!
© Saraphir Qaa-Rishi