Ask Niki: Preserving
Q: “I like to preserve my home-grown produce — making jams, bottling fruit, making sauces and cordials. The sugar helps these products last. I don’t have a lot of spare room in my fridge — is there a low-kilojoule sweetener which can be used in place of sugar that also acts as a preservative in the way sugar does?”
A: HFG editor Niki Bezzant responds:
Sugar does act as a preservative, but it also helps jams to set, interacting with the pectin and acids in the fruit. If you take out the sugar, you lose some of this setting ability. Sweeteners, natural or otherwise, don’t perform this function. There are two possible solutions: including gelatine in your jam mixture, or using a ‘jam setter’ product, otherwise known as pectin. This is available in powder form, from supermarkets or bulk bin stores. In both cases I suggest you look up sugar-free or reduced-sugar jam recipes online, and refer to the instructions on your sweetener of choice for exact proportions of ingredients. Also note your low-sugar jam won’t keep for longer than a few weeks, and will need to be stored in the fridge.