Summer Solstice Preserves - (my way)
Every year I have a friend who emails me when her sour cherries are ready for picking. It's a good trade really -- I email her when I have iris bulbs to share- which is often, and she calls me to get cherries! In the past years I've canned up goodies with sugar in them- danish cherry sauce, summer solstice jam, canned pie filling & cherry jam. Since going on a low carb diet and almost completely removing sugar from our diet I have been a bit stumped as to what to do with my beloved sour cherries this year so my pitted cherries have patiently been waiting for me in bags in the freezer.
So I finally pulled a bag or two out of the freezer and made a stab at a sugar free version of my old favorite summer solstice jam. The original recipe is from Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving and it calls for both blueberries and sour cherries with a hint of lemon. While my end result was a bit more sour than the original recipe - I think it's still quite passable. Instead of sugar I used primarily stevia- (my usual sweetener of choice), some xylitol, which takes the bitterness off the stevia and in the end I felt I had to add some sugar to get a good tasting end product. You'll see it was about a cup in the end, which spreads out over 8 half pint jars, meaning there is around 1/8 cup of sugar per jar. Hardly enough to count really. You could easily make this with honey, or other sweeteners, but I find honey changes the flavor of the end product which I wasn't willing to give on on this one. I was using pomona pectin which is now the only pectin I use -- so I was easily able to make a double batch, (not something I recommend using any other kind of pectin). And of course since pomona doesn't contain sugar, and doesn't require sugar to jell it is very forgiving for those that want to use other sweeteners! And now for the recipes -- below is the original, and my version. Like I said before - -I would prefer it a bit more sweet.
the original recipe is as follows:
Summer Solstice Preserves
Makes about five 8 ounce jars (when using less sugar your yields will be lower due to the lower amount of bulk in the pot)
3 cups halved pitted red tart cherries
1 cup blueberries
4 1/2 cup sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1 pouch of liquid pectin
2T. kirsch or cherry brandy
Summer Solstice Preserves My Way
Makes eight 8 ounce jars
6 cups of pitted red tart cherries
2 cups of blueberries
1 cup of sugar
4T. lemon juice
1/4 cup xylitol
4 tsp calcium water (this is part of the pomona pectin)
4 tsp pomona pectin powder
8 1/2 tiny tsp of KAL brand powdered stevia
Mix together everything but the sugar, xylitol and pectin powder in your jelly pan or large stockpot.
In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, xylitol, and pectin powder well.
Heat the pan of fruit until it is hot through and add the sugar and pectin mix, turn heat up and stir often and well until the mixture starts to jell. If you do the traditional test with a spoonful of syrup in the freezer --this will give you a good idea of whether you have cooked it enough or not. If it jells when cold, it is fine to pour or ladle into your hot prepared jelly jars.
* Note that if you were to make the original batch a double batch you would use 8 1/2 cups of sugar compared to my one cup!!
**I didn't add the kirsch or brandy as I'm pregnant and we didn't have any on hand but if you wanted to, you absolutely could, In the past I've added amaretto with good results as well. Almonds and cherries -- mmm.. a marriage made in heaven.
This recipe was particularly easy to convert as it was for 4 cups total of fruit, when converting to use pomona pectin use the ratio as listed on the included charts- for the type of fruit you are using, for example I was using primarily sour cherries which have a ratio of four cups of fruit to 2tsp of calcium powder, and 2tsp of pectin. If I were using peaches or other berries the ratios are different. When doubled that meant that 8 cups of fruit would require 4 tsp pectin and 4 tsp of calcium water. (calcium water is made from the calcium powder that is included in the box of pomona pectin by simply mixing water with the powder in the correct ratio and I store this in a small jar in my fridge.)
Oh -- and lesson learned, (blush) don't mix the pomona pectin powder into a small amount of liquid directly or it will stiffen up like jello and become lumpy and then you will need to put it into the blender to get it thoroughly incorporated before adding to your fruit. By the way you can do this -- it's just easier to mix it into a powder at first. It's easier to mix it into a dry product like xylitol or sugar.