Effects of reducing sugar amount in Red Currant Jam

The friendliest place on the web for anyone that enjoys cooking.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

larry_stewart

Master Chef
Joined
Dec 25, 2006
Messages
5,226
Location
Long Island, New York
I just made some Red Currant Jam. It was 2 ingredients. Red Currants and an equal amount ( by weight) of sugar. Basic instructions were add currants and a little water too pot. boil for about 5 minutes until the berries break down. Run through a food mill to removed seeds, stems .... Weight, add equal amounts of sugar ( by weight). Stir until all sugar dissolves then bring to rolling boil for 5 minutes ( undisturbed). Ladel into jar. Let cool. Refrigerate.

Before following this recipe, I read a few others. One said they liked their jam a little more tart, so added half the sugar as above.

My question is, what physical affects ( if any) will reducing the sugar have on the jam? Will the consistency be the same ? Shelf life be the same ?

Obviously it will be less sweet and more tart.

One recipe mentioned that the currants have natural pectin which is what makes it set.
The above recipe mentioned that reduced sugar could result in shorter shelf life, and increased risk of mold forming.

I dont often make jams or jellies , so just curious . I do prefer a less sweet, more tart flavor, but also prefer a ajar like consistency and the longer shelf life.

I also like the simplicity of this recipe, so I dont really want to start adding more things to it.
 

GotGarlic

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
May 9, 2007
Messages
26,942
Location
Southeastern Virginia
It's true that currants are high in pectin, so it should set fine. Using less sugar does make it more susceptible to molding once it's opened, because sugar ties up the free water that pathogens need to reproduce. You can minimize this by using a clean utensil every time you use it, to avoid introducing stuff, and by using smaller containers, to use it up more quickly. Sugar also helps set the color, so it may darken once opened, but it will still be safe.
 

larry_stewart

Master Chef
Joined
Dec 25, 2006
Messages
5,226
Location
Long Island, New York
It's true that currants are high in pectin, so it should set fine. Using less sugar does make it more susceptible to molding once it's opened, because sugar ties up the free water that pathogens need to reproduce. You can minimize this by using a clean utensil every time you use it, to avoid introducing stuff, and by using smaller containers, to use it up more quickly. Sugar also helps set the color, so it may darken once opened, but it will still be safe.

Thanks.
I was pleasantly surprised how easy the process was.
 

blissful

Executive Chef
Joined
Mar 25, 2008
Messages
4,918
All our fruits that aren't canned in water, are made into a fruit puree (nchfp recipe) for spreads, adding lemon, little or no sugar. We open them one at a time, refrigerate when opened, use them liberally on pancakes and toast, or over pumpkin pie, or on oat-fruit cookies. Right now we have some berry puree/jam, we used on toast and pancakes so far. We won't open the next until this one is used up.
 

taxlady

Chef Extraordinaire
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
28,812
Location
near Montreal, Quebec
It usually takes longer to pass a jam test if you use less sugar with the fruit. I think I used to make jam with two parts fruit to one part sugar, by volume. I'll have to look in my notes. Then I would boil it until it passed a jam test: drip some of the liquid onto a cold plate. Turn the plate vertical. When the juice has dripped a bit down the plate, turn it the other way, but still vertical. If it doesn't drip again, it's ready. There are other similar jam tests. They get easier to assess with practice. I have read that, as GG wrote, they are more susceptible to quicker spoilage with less sugar. The sugar in jam acts as a preservative.
 

summer57

Senior Cook
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Messages
283
Location
Vancouver
I've made red currant jelly and jam (often mixed with apricot, blueberry, peach). I pick them myself, they're so beautiful hanging on the bush, sparkling in the sun.


Anyway. I also reduce sugar somewhat, I don't use pectin, and have never had problems with setting, or with storage.

I usually separate the stems from the currants by hand, it's tedious but I prefer the results. No water, no crushing, but I macerate the fruit overnight in sugar. Usually use 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of sugar to fruit by volume. That's one of the rare times I use volume and not metric weight for measurement.


Currants are excellent additions to low-pectin fruits in jams and preserves. Tangy, great colour, and lots of pectin.
 

larry_stewart

Master Chef
Joined
Dec 25, 2006
Messages
5,226
Location
Long Island, New York
Yeah, from all that I've read and heard , I seems like there is a broad range of fruit to sugar ratio.

I love currants ( even right off he bush eating fresh). hey are too sour for my wife. I can believe its taken me this long to make aa jam out of them. The amount of fruit off of a few bushes is remarkable, and up to this point, the birds dont even mess with them ( cause they are tooth busy eating my blue berries ).

I've made red currant jelly and jam (often mixed with apricot, blueberry, peach). I pick them myself, they're so beautiful hanging on the bush, sparkling in the sun.


Anyway. I also reduce sugar somewhat, I don't use pectin, and have never had problems with setting, or with storage.

When missing with other fruit ( which as also crossed my mind), what is a good ration of currants to other fruit? and I assume no pectin added and no problems setting ?
 

summer57

Senior Cook
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Messages
283
Location
Vancouver
Yeah, from all that I've read and heard , I seems like there is a broad range of fruit to sugar ratio.

I love currants ( even right off he bush eating fresh). hey are too sour for my wife. I can believe its taken me this long to make aa jam out of them. The amount of fruit off of a few bushes is remarkable, and up to this point, the birds dont even mess with them ( cause they are tooth busy eating my blue berries ).


When missing with other fruit ( which as also crossed my mind), what is a good ration of currants to other fruit? and I assume no pectin added and no problems setting ?
Another fresh currant lover! Good to hear.


I've been making jams, jellies, preserves for over 40 years now and I rarely, if ever, use pectin. I long boil to a soft set. If necessary, I'll mix low- and high-pectin fruit.

First - here are the proportions for Apricot Red Currant Jam from Bernardin, the Canadian version of Ball:

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) fresh apricots
  • 4 cups (1 L) stemmed red currants
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 7 cups (1750 ml) granulated sugar
  • proceed as usual!

For inspiration about what fruits/liqueurs/spices to add to your jams, heck out Christine Ferber's website (in French), or her books, or the websites that sell her products. The book index & product titles will you some great ideas. Her Strawberry and Lemongrass inspired my Blueberry and Makrut Lime jam.



Her jam-making technique is a two-step process, and it's what I use now. Basically, you macerate the fruit overnight. Next, separate the juice and fruit. You put the juice in your cooking pot and when the juice comes to almost setting temp, you add your fruit and continue cooking.
It's almost like making a preserve.
The jam sets to a soft spread, and the fruit tastes fresher than when it's cooked to temp with the juices.


Here's a Ferber version of a peach jam that I make: (you can see my comments in the brackets lol).



Yellow and White Peach Jam
1 1/2 pounds ripe yellow peaches (weight before peeling)

1 1/2 pounds ripe white peaches (weight before peeling)

2 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice



1. Sterilize your jars and put plates in the freezer, to test your jam for doneness later.
2. Blanch the peaches by immersing them in a pot of boiling water for two minutes, then quickly transferring them to a bowl of ice water.
3. Peel the peaches and roughly chop them into thick chunks.
4. In your jam pot, combine the peaches, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, then transfer the mixture into a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight. (Actually, I prepped mine in the morning and let them sit for about six hours, then made my jam in the afternoon. No big deal.)
5. The next day (or later that day, whatever) . . . pour the mixture through a sieve into your jam pot so what you end up with is a pot full of sweet peachy syrup. Set aside the peaches and bring the syrup to a boil. Cook the syrup until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the peaches to the syrup and return the mixture to a boil, cooking on high heat until your jam reaches the setting point (see below for the test I use). As the jam cooks, use a shallow, stainless-steel spoon to periodically skim any stiff white foam from the top of the mixture. It took about 15 minutes for this jam to cook for me, but keep in mind that lots of factors affect cooking time. Watch your mixture and test it carefully.



To test your jam for doneness: Remove the pan from the heat. Use one of your frozen spoons to scoop up a little bit of jam — not a whole spoonful. Return the spoon to the freezer and wait 3 minutes. Retrieve the spoon and hold it vertically. If the mixture runs very slowly or not at all, it’s done. (“Not at all” may be overdone, in fact.) Give the mixture a little push with your finger. If it clearly creases or wrinkles up, it’s done.



7. Ladle the hot jam into your sterilized jars and seal. Process 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
Yields about 4 half-pint jars.
 
Last edited:

taxlady

Chef Extraordinaire
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
28,812
Location
near Montreal, Quebec
Once I got a pressure canner, I started using it for jam as well as stuff that needs a pressure canner. It uses a lot less water, so the pot isn't nearly as heavy and you don't get as much heat and steam in your kitchen. Also, I never had a jar of jam not seal properly out of the pressure canner. I would guess one in twenty jars didn't seal properly out of the water bath canner. It was a long time ago. It might have been one in forty jars that didn't seal properly out of the water bath canner. I was canning a lot back then.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top Bottom