When I wake up I like to have a sweet breakfast, in Italy savory breakfast are not that usual, moreover breakfast is almost the only time of the day when I eat sweet foods, I prefer to reduce the sugar intake as the day goes by. What I like the most is varying everyday, so that I can enjoy something different every morning. Usually I drink some home made kefir, then after around 30min to an hour I have breakfast that may include (sourdough)bread, butter and (homemade)jam, or waffles, or pancakes or some sourdough brioche.
Where you source your fruit counts
When eating bread and butter I really like to eat it with peach jam. I’m not used to buying jams, because the ones you find in the grocery stores are too sugary and, moreover, I can’t be sure how the fruits used were grown, I prefer local and pesticide free fruits. Peaches are unfortunately always included in the dirty dozen list and it is always best to buy organic. Some might think that if you are going to boil it then you can buy regular peaches, but pesticide residues do not die with boiling, and the way the fruit is grown is not only bad for your health but also for the environment. If you want to make a fruit jam I highly recommend to find some local organic farmer or someone who grow their peaches without the help of any chemical.
If you can’t find or afford organic fruit, there’s a simple solution: wash it carefully with some baking soda, and peel it, because usually the pesticides accumulates mainly in the peel.
Not so time-consuming as you might think
Some might say that preparing a jam is a long and painstaking process, and that you have to spend half day cooking: I will prove you that making jam can be a breeze, and it’s not necessary to spend hours in front of your stove. This way you can do it whenever you like, and you will have lot of healthy jam for months to come!
Less sugar more health
Many recipes call for the same amount of sugar and fruit, that’s something that can be easily changed. It’s not necessary and, in my opinion, takes most of the flavor of the fruit away, you’ll end up with a caramelized fruit that tastes like sugar. There are a few tricks to reduce the sugar content in your jam without risking it to go bad easily or grow mold.
You can buy pectin in grocery stores pretty much everywhere or you can buy it online. Or you can use an apple or 1 lemon to get the pectin you need to thicken your jelly.
2. Agar agar or kuzu
Agar agar or kudzu are natural thickeners that are made from algae, they’re natural and also rich in nutrients, they help with thickening so you won’t need as much sugar. They’re easily available pretty much everywhere nowadays.
Using less sugar helps in reducing the sugar intake but you will also have the chance to taste the true flavor of the fruit.
Substitutions and other fruits
You can use the same recipe to make jam with apricots, plums, pears or strawberries.
If you want to substitute your sugar with some “non-sugar” alternative such as swerve or stevia or xylitol I cannot guarantee the result will be the same. I would instead use less sugar and make a small batch to see how long it keeps. The taste also might not be the same, one good substitute could be amber maple syrup, but as I said the taste won’t be the same. You could actually make a jam without the sugar, but it won’t keep for months in the pantry as a classic sugar will. Anyway when using the agar-agar, that turns the water content into jelly, it will stil keep for a long time, especially in the fridge or in a very cool dark place.
- 1kg very ripe peaches
- 300gr sugar of choice
- 2gr of agar-agar powder or 1 tbs of pectin (if you want to make it sugar free, then double the pectin and skip the lemon or the apple)
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 lemon (with skin so organic is best) or 1 apple
Wash the peaches thoroughly, pit and cut them into cubes then put the pieces into a pot (you could use also your slow cooker). Prepare enough jars by washing them with boiling water and then rub the interior with some alcohol. You can also sterilize all jars in the oven, just wash them carefully then put them upside-down (without the lid) into the oven at 110° for at least 20min. Boil the lids for 15min to sanitize them as well.
You can sterilize the jars the day before then close them and put them aside covered with a cloth.
Add the agar-agar or pectin powder, then squeeze the juice of the lemon and pour it in the pot with the peaches. Cut half of the skin into small pieces (including also a bit of the white part). Cut the other half (without the white) into strips or chop it finely. Add the peel to the pot. I you are using the apple instead of the lemon, cut it into chunks and add them to the pot.
Add the sugar and vanilla into the pot with the fruit and cook on medium/low for about 30min, stirring occasionally. Even if it’ll seem too runny, can the jam, it will set once at room temperature, where the pectin or agar-agar will start to gel.
Pour the jam into the jars when still boiling, close the lid and put the jars upside down to create an airtight closure.
This jam keeps for a year or more when closed, once opened you can keep it in the refrigerator up to 3 months.