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Pear Vanilla Jam with Honey + Tips for Canning Sugar-free Jam

Recently, Marisa McClellan, popular food blogger and author of Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint, stopped by our warehouse for a couple canning classes. We talked about how to make low or no sugar jam, using Pomona’s Pectin. The result was a splendid pear vanilla jam with honey (recipe below).

Here are a few tips we learned, and some video clips from the class.

Pomona’s Universal Pectin – This sugar-free, preservative-free, low-methoxyl citrus pectin does not require sugar to jell. It enables you to make jams and jellies with little or no sugar, allowing you to make a healthier version of your preserves. For those of us that love to jam, but are trying to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, Pomona’s is the way to go. Here’s what Marisa had to say about Pomona’s Pectin during the class.

Selecting Honey – When using honey instead of sugar it’s important to use a mild flavored honey with a delicate fruit, so the honey flavor does not overpower the natural flavor of the fruit.

Consistency – If you choose to use different sweeteners, remember that it will change your consistency and the yield of your finished product.

Enhancing Flavors – When pulling sweeteners out, it’s important to add in other flavors so that your jam doesn’t taste flat. In this recipe we used lemon and vanilla bean to build on the flavor of the pear.

Lemon Juice – Many canning recipes call for bottled lemon juice, this is an important step in the canning process and ensures a consistent acid level for preserving. When a recipe calls for lemon juice from a lemon, it is generally being added for flavor. Marisa discusses the difference between using bottle lemon juice and fresh squeezed in this video.

– Consider buying vanilla beans in bulk from Beanilla and Vanilla Products USA.  Here’s a quick video on how to split and scrape a vanilla bean. If you want a close up version on how to do this, here’s a great video from Marisa.

Pear Vanilla Jam with HoneyPear Vanilla Honey Jam-FC

Makes 5-6 pints

6 pounds ripe, thin skinned pears (like Bartlett or Bosc)
3 cups honey, divided
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons calcium water
2 tablespoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 5-6 pints of jam (the yield varies depending on how much water the pears contain).

Wash, core and chop pears. Place them in a low, wide pan and add 1/2 cup water, 2 cups honey, vanilla seeds and beans, the lemon zest and juice, and the calcium water. Stir to combine and place on the stove. Set the burner to medium-high heat and cover the pot. Cook the pears, stirring regularly, until they are soft. This should take 35-40 minutes.

Once the pears are tender, grab a potato masher and break them down into a chunky sauce. Whisk the pectin powder into the remaining cup of honey. Bring the pears up to a simmer and stir in the pectin-spiked honey.

Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until the jam begins to thicken. Once it is thickening, remove the pan from the heat. Funnel jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from canner and set them to cool on a folded kitchen towel.

Sealed jars are shelf stable for up to a year. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and eaten within 2-3 weeks.

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