Blackberry-Blueberry Jam, low sugar

by Daisy on 07/29/2008

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So far this year I have harvested about 33 pounds of blueberries and blackberries. I don’t know if that sounds like a lot to you, but it is like most things–no matter how much one has, one always wants more. Especially more berries.

That said, I am very pleased with my berries. I have frozen several quarts and eaten them fresh on cereal and in crepes and cobblers. Today I am making jam.


If I followed the Sure-Jell pectin recipe, I would be using about 16 cups of sugar for the 16 cups of berries I want to make into jam today. Yes, 16 cups, one cup of sugar per cup of berries. Now the 1:1 ratio applies to crushed berries, and my measure of berries isn’t crushed. However, I am using blackberries as well as blueberries and the proportion of berries to sugar for blackberries is 7 cups of sugar to only 5 cups of crushed blackberries. So I sort of split the difference. My point is, that’s a lot of sugar. A lot of sugar.

I’m not going to do that. I use tart apples to augment the pectin in the jam which helps it to set up. The apples cook down to sauce and are not noticeable in the finished product. I have tried recipes with no pectin and no sugar and they are fine and one way to do it, but in my experience they don’t set up well. They are good for syrup, but trying to balance the syrup on the toast reminds me of one of those games that used to come in cracker jack boxes where you had to guide a tiny bead through a maze–the syrup flows all over the toast and down your fingers. I use half a package of commercial pectin because pectin is sour and more pectin means more sweetener unless you like a very puckery jam. I don’t mind a bit of a tang, but I like a balanced tang. Here’s my recipe, not sugar-free, but a far cry from 16 CUPS:

Blackberry-Blueberry Jam

4 quarts mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)

4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 cup honey, more if your berries are particularly tart

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 package pectin (Sure-Jell, Certo, or the like, about 2 1/2 T.)

Clean and sterilize jars, lids, and rings.

Put clean, stemmed berries into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pare and chop apples. I used Granny Smith, but any tart cooking apple will do.

Mix together sugar and pectin and add to berries along with the honey and cook over medium heat. Bring slowly to the boil and boil gently for at least thirty minutes or until it looks like jam and tastes like jam. Mine took about 45-60 minutes. Use your best judgment.

 


Take a bit out on a spoon and put it on a cold plate. Are the juices watery-looking? Keep cooking until you when you put a little dab on a plate it has a more syrupy consistency. Let the dab cool a bit. It should begin to set up a little. It doesn’t have to be terribly thick or gelatinous (you want to be able to spread it on your toast without undue effort). If you have much foam, skim it off with a spoon. At this point, turn off the heat and ladle the jam into the jars.

I don’t have a jar gripper, so I take a tea towel and wrap it around the empty jar like a scarf as a heat-proof handle.

Then I fill them up within 1/2 inch of the top, add lids and loosely screw down the rings.

Lastly they go into the canner for a 5 minute process and they are done. Let them cool. Tighten lids up a bit. Over the next hour or so, the lids will seal with a pop. After they seal, if you press a finger on the top of the lid, the lid will be pressed in and will not pop back and forth. That’s a good seal.

This recipe makes 5 pints.

 




{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris March 15, 2011 at 1:19 am

Sorry if this is a dumb question (I’ve read the post over a few times, and I just want to make sure), you put the chopped apples into the saucepan with the berries? Right before you add the sugar and pectin? Just wanted to clarify–I don’t want to mess anything up! Loving your sight. Thanks!

Tomato Lady March 15, 2011 at 7:09 am

Kris–Yes, that wasn’t very clear, was it? But you’ve got it right, apples go in with the berries. Thanks!

Heather Mirman June 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I’m glad I found your recipe. I also have been amazed by the amount of sugar in jams. One question: did you use no sugar needed pectin or regular?

Tomato Lady June 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Heather–I used the Low-Sugar kind. I think it comes in a pink box?

ANGELA July 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe! It looks delicious! I don’t have a canner, but is it possible to make the jam and then just freeze it instead of canning?

Tomato Lady July 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Yes, Angela, it does fine that way!

katie July 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hi, LOVE your website. Most of my jam recipes I only boil for a few minutes. Does this have to boil so much longer because of the low amount of sugar? (I have to admit I feel a bit guilty dumping in 5 cups of sugar in my jam recipes…eek)

Sandy July 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Just made your blueberry jam recipe … AWESOME! And very easy!! Question … Will the jam spoil faster with using less pectin?

THANKS!!

Tomato Lady July 24, 2011 at 7:18 pm

katie–Thanks! It is possible to boil this for only five minutes. Ten minutes is a bit overkill, and I’ve done it both ways. It doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Tomato Lady July 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Sandy–Glad it turned out! After opening and refrigerating, I keep it for many weeks just fine, but I have had it develop mold when I forgot a jar at the back of the refrigerator for several months. Regular sugar jam seems to last indefinitely, so I would say yes, but because of the low sugar. We generally use it up pretty fast, though, so it doesn’t come up very often!

Sally August 25, 2011 at 8:58 am

This looks like JUST the recipe I’m looking for to make jam today! I love the very low sugar. I usually make sure-jell’s low sugar pectin jams, but it still calls for alot of sugar in my opinion. Thanks for posting this! Do you use the regular sure-jell pectin, not the low sugar (pink box)?
🙂

Sally August 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

Oh, sorry. I just saw your previous comment that you use the low sugar pectin.

Dennis August 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I’m wondering if half of the blackberries in this recipe could be sieved after cooking to remove the seeds and then returned to the pot to boil a few minutes in order to reduce the amount of seeds in the final product?

Thanks,
Dennis

Daisy August 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Dennis–Yes, I’ve done that. It does fine.

Tara September 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Thank you so much! I am very excited to try this recipe tonight or tomorrow. It drives me NUTS how much sugar is needed in jam, especially when I’m already using really sweet fruit! Not only was I excited to find this recipe but your explanation about the pectin making things tart totally turned a switch on in my head. I get it now LOL!!!
I’ll post more after I have some real life results!

Courtney February 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Wonderful! Thank you for this…I despise jam recipes that call for tons of sugar… A tip I discovered: a recipe I used (successfully) before called for quartered apples directly in the berries when cooking, but removed before canning. (I used a sieve to get rid of berry seeds and apples. I then pureed those apple quarters and made berry applesauce! Yum.

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