Making Low Sugar Jam With Agar Agar Instead of Pectin

| 5/13/2014 12:08:00 PM

Lori HavensWith summer knocking at the door, I thought I'd share my method for making jam without commercial pectin. Agar-agar is made from a variety of sea vegetables (seaweed/kelp), and is used like gelatin ... only it's completely vegetarian! It's a great alternative to pectin in jams, and it can be used to thicken anything you cook. Agar-agar must be heated to "release" the jelling properties, then it will set up as it cools. Agar-agar flakes are best ... less processed than agar-agar powder. My recipe is for flakes.

Pectin is found in the skins/peels of many fruits and has thickening properties. Commercial pectin, on the other hand, is a processed powder made from apple (typically) and/or citrus peels. It is far from natural ... have a quick look HERE at a chart showing the steps to make powdered pectin. You'll probably realize why you're allergic to it, if you are!

I used the recipe from my Ball Blue Book of Canning for peach preserves, and modified it to include blueberries and to use the agar-agar. Here are the ingredients lists for both ... each uses 4 pounds of fruit. Note the amount of sugar called for in each:

Peach Preserves

8 cups sliced, peeled, pitted peaches (about 4 pounds)
1 package powdered pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar

Blueberry-Peach Preserves With Agar-Agar