Written collaboratively by Abigail Lambert, Megan Erickson, former SDSU Extension Nutrition Field Specialist, and Hope Kleine.
Sugar is an essential ingredient for preserving fruits and making jams and jellies, as it preserves the life, color and texture of the fruits and creates the thickened consistency of products, such as relishes, jams and jellies. As low and no-added-sugar food products have become increasingly popular, new low and no-added-sugar alternative recipes have been created. It is possible to preserve fruits with little or no added sugar, which is great for those who prefer less sweetness, reduced calories or other dietary restrictions.
NOTE: It’s important to not alter the sugar or sugar content of evidence-based recipes. Instead, find another evidence-based recipe with a lower sugar content.
Sugar alternatives are a great way to reduce the calories and sugar content of the preserved product, but it’s important to note that not all sugar alternatives are suitable for the canning process. Below is a list of sugar alternatives and their current recommendations when it comes to their use in food preservation.
Bottled or frozen unsweetened juice can be used in place of a sugar syrup or water.
- Apple juice with peaches, pears, apricots, plums and red or sweet cherries.
- Frozen pineapple juice with pears or peaches.
- White grape juice with pears, apricots and peaches.
- Red grape juice with red cherries and plums.
Sweet, sticky, natural sweetener that tastes sweeter than an equal amount of sugar.
- Can be used to replace up to half of the table sugar called for in canning syrups.
Sucralose (Splenda), Stevia and aspartame are types of artificial sweeteners.
- Sucralose (Splenda): Used in some jams, but doesn’t have the same preservative properties as sugar.
- Stevia: Can only be used in jams and jellies with low methoxyl pectin.
- Application of heat can cause flavor change.
- Aspartame: Destroyed by long cooking.