Cooking school: A jam entrepreneur advises how (not) to make sugar-free jam

Entrepreneur Hana Šindlerová stands behind the company Marmelády with a story, but prefers to present the results of her work rather than her story. It supplies selected jams to numerous fine hotels and restaurants and several chains, and also sells at markets. At the same time, she is still involved in the production and development of new products, which is why she personally gave us a very detailed insight into sugar-free canning. This could be of interest to all those who have a tendency to collect and prefer chemical-free food, but at the same time find it a little excessive to consume canned goods with 50 percent sugar.

In order not to stay only on theory, three concrete recipes followed: you may have already registered plum jam without stirring, today you will find plum jam sweetened with panela (unrefined sugar cane juice) and apple chutney with xylitol (birch sugar).

Canning without sugar

Is that even possible? In short: yes, it’s certainly possible, but it’s almost laboratory work. You must follow five points:

  • Fruits of first-class quality – in perfect condition, without traces of rot, mold, etc.
  • Everything perfectly cleaned and washed – rough preparation is really very important!
  • Also perfectly clean and boiled glass.
  • Always new and high-quality lids that close well.
  • Subsequent sterilization of the jam – even if you add sugar, but it is in a smaller ratio to fruit than 1:1, it is necessary to sterilize the jam (already with the lid lifted) after turning the lid upside down, ideally for 20 minutes at 80° C. This is also the reason why versions of Marmalade with a sugar-free story, they have a guaranteed shelf life of a maximum of 6 months. And they are cooked under the strictest hygienic conditions.

Even if you follow all of these, you have to be careful that your jam won’t last nearly as long as the one with sugar, because sugar is simply a preservative. If for any reason you refuse beet sugar, you can try various alternative sweeteners.

Hana loves working with birch sugar. In the kitchen, you will appreciate it mainly because of its white color and neutral taste. This cannot be said for the plate, where it is necessary to take into account that the dark color and taste of the caramel will change the color and the resulting taste of the jam. This type of sweetener is better in combination with dark fruits with a strong taste.

Stevia is very popular, but Hana personally does not recommend it: “I don’t like stevia, its taste falls on my tongue, and the rest stays in the mouth for a long time. That’s why I don’t cook with it, but of course it is a very popular substitute for sweetener. Instead of beet sugar, you can use raisins, dates, apple concentrate or my favorite date syrup to sweeten.

A great tip for making sweet jams without sugar is to add a pinch of salt to the fruit to bring out its natural sweetness. Also, the longer the fruit is cooked, the sweeter it is. On the other hand, fruit cooked for a long time loses its valuable vitamins, so you have to decide what is more important to you.

Blackberry and plum jam with panel

You need:

  • 1 kg of blackberries
  • Water or red wine for dipping
  • 1 kg of plums
  • Plates of 300 g
  • 10 g of pectin
  • Juice of half a lemon


  1. Wash the cups and lids with soap, boil and let them dry. Place a plate in the freezer where you can test the thickness of the jam. Clean the pits from the plums, cut them into pieces, cover with water or wine and leave to simmer. Meanwhile, rinse the blackberries.
  2. Mix the stewed plums until they become smooth, but you can also leave the pieces, it depends on your preference. Add whole or crushed blackberries to the mixture, bring to a boil, do not leave the pot and stir. Gradually add the board. Place some plates on the side in a mixing bowl and mix the pectin well.
  3. When the sugar dissolves in the fruit, add the pectin with the sugar and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice just before it’s done, then pour a little onto a chilled plate to check the consistency of the jam. If it’s too runny, cook a little more. Otherwise, you can already fill the prepared glasses.

Jam without pectin: You can cook this recipe without pectin, but you have to cook the plums for a longer time so that they thicken nicely.

Apple chutney with birch sugar

You need:

  • 1 kg of apples
  • 1 to 2 onions
  • A piece of ginger (about 5 cm)
  • 200 g birch sugar (or honey or date syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Roman cumin, ground coriander, mustard seeds and chilli to taste
  • 120 ml of apple cider vinegar
  • 200 g of cranberries or raisins


  1. Wash the cups and lids with soap, boil and let them dry. Peel the apples and onions and cut them into cubes. Also peel and dice the ginger.
  2. Put apples, onions and ginger in a saucepan, cover with water and gently simmer together with sugar, salt and spices until the apples are completely soft. It depends on the hardness of the apples, but it will take at least an hour.
  3. Add the cranberries that you previously washed, season with apple cider vinegar and, if necessary, add a spoonful of birch sugar. Pour into prepared glasses 1 cm below the lid, close tightly and leave to cool, turned upside down. Thanks to the vinegar and sugar, the chutney prepared in this way will last for a year without preservation.

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