Hey Bob. I mean readers. You like what I did there? How are you all? Jammin’? If not then you will be after reading this post. After relishing the Spiced Apple Chutney I made a few months ago, I decided to take things a couple of steps further. Possibly due to the fact that oodles of diabetics were sending me (the Wicked Witch of the Web) hate mail for enticing them with my sugar-laden preserves of doom.
Alas, there are a number of diabetics in my family and so jam is categorically off the menu. Full stop. Fear not comrades, for I hold the silver spoon of liberation to satisfy sweet-toothed diabetics! I have been toiling at my
cauldron stove for the past few days experimenting with spells recipes for sugar-free jam so I can force feed it to all of you sweet, sweet children diabetics.
Creeping you out just a bit?
So we have two jams on the menu tonight: Sugar-free Apple and Cinnamon Jam and Sugar-free Hibiscus (Rosella) Jam. For all of you who may be tutting at me for using artificial sweetener *makes puppy dog eyes at lovely, understanding readers and resembles that cutie pie, Gizmo from Gremlins and so cannot be judged* I would like to add that this is jam. Jam is sweet. Therefore you won’t be eating heaps of it in one go. Unless you’re a bit of a Bruce Bogtrotter (except that was chocolate cake). When you’re diabetic and you crave sweet things, I think it’s better to have a teaspoon of sugar-free jam with a little artificial sweetener than a Twix. Indeed, if you’re not happy with sugar-free apple jam because it uses sweetener then I suggest you just eat an apple. Sounds harsh, no? Well my friends, that’s the harsh reality of conserving and preserving.
On the brighter side of things, there’s not too much artificial sweetener in the Apple and Cinnamon jam because the apples naturally contain their own sugar (which, if eaten in excess isn’t that great for you either but hey, I’m no food nutritionist). However, the hibiscus jam contains more because it is made from dried flowers, not fruit. The taste of hibiscus jam is sweet and sour like cranberries and reminds me of the taste of the fruit of the African baobab (ubuyu) tree; very lemony, berry-tasting and fragrant; it almost tastes like sherbet. Consuming hibiscus is commonly believed to lower blood glucose in those with type two diabetes. You can have a Google around and read up on this if you’re interested (like I said, I’m not qualified to give out health advice)… I’m just here to jam with you.
And I hope you like jammin’, too.
Around 10 medium sized eating (not cooking) apples, peeled, cored and chopped into ½ inch pieces
¾ cup sweetener (I used Candarel)
1 cup water
½ tsp agar-agar powder (the pectin in the apples will do the rest of the gelatinising)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1. In a large saucepan combine the apples, sweetener and water and allow to boil for around 30-35 minutes or until reduced, stirring occasionally. This makes the house smell amazing.
2. When significantly reduced but still a little syrupy, add the agar-agar powder and cinnamon powder. Remove from the heat.
3. Allow to cool and transfer to sterilised jam jars. I sterilise my jars by wetting them a little and placing them on high power in the microwave until they’re dry. Be really careful when you’re doing this, folks.
4. Refrigerate and consume within two weeks.
Sugar-free Hibiscus (Rosella) Jam (Makes around 1 cup of jam)
As requested by my wonderful reader, John D. from Australia and adapted from Café Nilson
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers with any tough parts removed (sometimes you get little woody bits attached)
1 ½ cups sweetener (I used Candarel)
2 ½ cups sugar-free cranberry juice
½ tsp agar-agar powder
1. In a large saucepan combine the hibiscus flowers, sweetener and cranberry juice. Boil for 45-50 minutes (it takes some time for the flowers to soften but leave around a cup of moisture in there).
2. Add the agar-agar powder.
3. When the flowers are soft allow the mixture to cool and transfer to a blender. Blend the hibiscus until it becomes pureed.
4. Transfer to sterilised jam jars (see step three of the apple jam recipe above to see how I do it) and refrigerate. Consume within 3 weeks.