LOW-SUGAR OMEGA PLUM JAM

The recipe I share this week I started playing with last plum season. I love the St. Dalfour 100% fruit conserves and wanted to see if I could make something similar. I am pretty happy with the result, it is not too sweet, even a little tart, and has a wonderful jam-like consistency. I have used apple syrup, basically boiled down local (Nelson) apple juice into a thick syrup. It is available through Chantal [certified organic, Napier based] and Enza [Nelson based], we often use it in place of maple syrup on pancakes. If you can’t find apple syrup you can use any liquid sweetener in this recipe. This would still be a high-fructose jam so if you want to reduce fructose I would recommend making chia berry jam.

Cane Sugar-free Omega Plum Jam

It is important to use fleshy plums for this recipe such as omega, black doris or prune plums. Juicy plums will be too watery and not thicken well. Apricots would also work well in this recipe. The addition of the apple adds pectin to help set the jam.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg omega plums stones removed and cut into small pieces
  • 1 apple cored with skin on and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup apple syrup or 3/4 cup honey

Instructions

  • Combine the plums, apples and syrup in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, on a low heat for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours until thickened. Stir occasionally then more frequently as it thickens so it doesn't burn. Once the jam is lovely and syrupy [it will thicken some once it cools] spoon the hot jam into 4 or 5 small hot sterilised jars.
  • *If properly sealed in sterilised jars the jam will keep for 6 months in a cool pantry. Once opened keep refrigerated and use within a month.

Notes

Find more information on properly sterilising jars and Preserving the Harvest.

A friend asked me this question recently… ‘Is it really better for us to just swap out white sugar in recipes for other sweeteners such as dates or honey’. This is a fantastic question, one I am often asked, and have pondered quite a bit over the years. Although, as so often with the complex subject of nutrition, it is not a simple answer. If you have come to one of my Healthy Baking workshops I would have talked in detail about this, and to cut a long story short, not all sugars are created the same.

Nutrition is one of those subjects that often has many contradictions. This summer I read two very interesting books. Both books were well written and researched, and both books advised avoiding cane sugar completely. The first book written by a Doctor, Gut & Psychology Syndrome [often refereed to as the GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride], recommends using small amounts of raw honey, ripe bananas and dried fruit as sweeteners. The reason being that their simple sugar structure makes them easier for the body to digest. Compared to the more complex make up of cane sugar, maple syrup and malted grain syrups [i.e. corn, rice and barley syrups].

The second book, the popular I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson, makes a hard case about fructose and why we should limit it in our daily diet for the rest of our life. That is right, fructose found in fruit and dried fruit such as dates, as well as sweeteners such as cane sugar, maple syrup and honey. Sarah recommends using only rice malt syrup as it is fructose-free, and small amounts of low fructose fruit [apples, pears and berries] and sweet vegetables such as pumpkin and kumara. Although Sarah is not a health professional she is an excellent researcher and many people have experienced profound improvements in their health from following her 8-week program. As have those following the GAPS diet, particularly effective for ADHD, autism, depression, schizophrenia and other psychological conditions.

(*Please note: I am not advocating one or the other of these diets, or any diet for that matter. I read the books to build on my knowledge and gain insight into different approaches to sugar-free diets. Everybody is different and what works for one person may not work for another. I have referenced these books here as examples of well written and researched views on sugar that have opposing recommendations.)

So where does this leave us with which sugar is best? As more and more research seals the case on sugar and refined carbohydrate being detrimental to our health, I believe the most important thing is not to get caught up in which sugar is better to use. Rather focus on reducing all sweeteners, and when using them use unrefined versions that will at least provide some nutrition as well as sweetness. Obviously, if you know a certain sweetener doesn’t agree with you then avoid it. I use a variety of sweeteners and interchange them in my cooking depending on what I am making. Including [in no particular order]:

  • raw local honey
  • fruit & dried fruit – including bananas and dates
  • rapadura and muscovado [unrefined cane sugar]
  • maple syrup and apple syrup
  • cooked fruit/ mashed banana

My priority would be locally produced sweeteners such as raw honey and/or cooked seasonal fruit over imported sweeteners.

Cane Sugar-free Omega Plum Jam | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Cane Sugar-free Omega Plum Jam | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Cane Sugar-free Omega Plum Jam | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Cane Sugar-free Omega Plum Jam | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

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  1. A friend told me once that if you want to reduce the amount of sugar in jam, simmer the fruit by itself first to reduce the liquid in it first. Then when it’s at almost the right thickness you can add the sugar. It can halve the amount needed. I don’t know how it would work with this but I would imagine it wouldn’t hurt. It will also concentrate the sugars in the plums to allow tasting before adding sweetener. πŸ™‚ I’ve also come across a jam made with apples and honey plus fruit, another variant on your recipe I guess. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the share. I do miss jam sometimes.

    1. That is a good tip, I not sure if it would make much difference because I am using a syrup rather than granulated sugar. And I only use 1 cup sweetener in the recipe to about 6 cups fruit so the ratio of sugar to fruit is already very low compared to the usual equal quantities of fruit and sugar in traditional jam. Have you tried chia jam? it doesn’t keep long but is very easy to make.

  2. Hi Nicola, would this work with Black boy peaches? I’m not even sure if they make good jam, but my neighbours have a lot of small ones that I think would have blown off the tree in this mornings wind! Thanks for the tips on sugar. I know I feel a lot better when I reduce all sugars in what I eat.
    Cheers.

    1. Hi Pania, I am not sure. They can be quite juicy, I find the fleshier the fruit the better for this recipe. You could try with half apple and half peach as the apple will thicken it but it would be more like a compote than jam I imagine.
      Nice to hear from you πŸ™‚

    2. Hi! I just made peach jam with golden peaches and it is delicious. Smaller the better as not as juicy, in my experience. Love the idea of not using cane sugar will try that next time! Good luck!

      1. Sounds fabulous, our golden queen’s are only beginning to fruit this year so not quite enough to make jam. Good to know for next year though!

  3. Thanks Nicola. Mixing them with apples is a good idea. Compote is fine; at least it would preserve the peaches somewhat. I’m enjoying your recipes, made your lovely blueberry ‘jelly’recently, great idea! Have recently bought a house and finally have my own garden. I’m excited to get growing. =)

  4. This sounds delicious, Nicola. Thank you. How long do you think the jam would keep? Your new site look is beautiful too, by the way! xxx

    1. Thanks Loveday! If properly preserved in sterlised jars that are sealed [i.e. the lids are concave] then up to 6 months. Once opened about a month. It could also be frozen.

  5. margaret conyers says:

    I love the idea of including chia seeds to thicken up the jam. Want to try some Queen garnet plums I have bought this way. Loads of quinces and medlars coming up, would like to try quince paste via the crockpot, any ideas on how??

    1. Hi Margaret, I haven’t tried making quince jam in the slow cooker so not sure how it would go. Though I have made a lovely fig & lemon jam using the slowcooker and it worked out beautiful. It needed to cook for 8 hours so I would imagine the quince would be similar time. Good luck!

  6. Hi Nicola. Sounds like such a delicious easy recipe πŸ™‚ Will definitely have to try it! I’ve recently moved to Nelson from South Africa and stumbled upon your site the other day. It is just too beautiful, all your work is wonderful and I was instantly inspired!!! I look forward to future recipes and posts πŸ™‚ Enjoy the rest of you day. Taryn Xxx

    1. Hi Taryn, welcome to the best little city in the world! Well we think so. Please say hi if we cross paths sometime, which is quite likely with the smallness of Nelson πŸ™‚

      1. It really is such a quaint place that has crawled so deep in my heart already! I most definitely will πŸ™‚ Take Care Xxx

  7. Hi Nicola, I discovered your website only recently when trying to find a low sugar recipe for plum sauce, so have since made your Plum and Tomato Sauce – yum! I’m keen to try your Cane Sugar-free Plum Jam as I too have tried the Dalfour conserves in my search for sugar free, natural products. I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of Sarah Wilson and have experienced the benefits of minimizing sugar, so it’s been neat to discover you – closer to home! I’m loving your website and weekly inspiration, thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Sharlene πŸ™‚ I am glad you enjoyed the plum sauce and hope you like this jam. Although I don’t cut out all sugar I do make an effort to minimise it in my cooking and the recipes I share here. Its all about balance! Thanks for commenting, it is always so nice to hear from others enjoying my recipes x

  8. Hi Nicola, Pania and others… just reading your comments while I’m cooking up wind-blown little blackboy peaches! I usually just half (or quarter) them, bring to a boil whilst mixing often. Then let them simmer for about half an hour… and hey, presto. I put them in hot glass jars and they will keep for years (no sugar needed). It is indeed more a compote than a jam, but since we don’t eat bread anymore we have less of a need for jam πŸ™‚

    I use this sauce with a piece of cake (mmm… peach sauce with a slice of your chocolate cake, Nicola) could make a clafoutis in winter, but mainly just as a topping for the kid’s yoghurt.

    The other day I did half prunes, half apples and turned them into fruit leathers. That would be an option too if you have a dehydrator.

    1. Hi Irma! Lovely to hear from you. I use a similar preserving method for all our garden fruit. It is amazing how long it lasts with no sugar added, the kids love it with their muesli or porridge throughout the year. I mainly make this jam for my husband as it reminds of the tart plum jam his German Grandma used to make. And it is lovely spread in between layers of chocolate cake for a little extra decadence πŸ™‚
      Thanks for the reminder I must make some fruit leather, I usually add some ground nuts to the pureed fruit to balance out some of the fruit sugars. Hope you well x

  9. Hi, can I use apple sauce instead of apple syrup? Apple sauce is easier to come by for me here in NZ.

    1. Hi Paula, apple sauce wouldn’t work as it isn’t very sweet. Apple syrup is made in NZ and many supermarket now stock it. Otherwise you can use any sugar or sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, rice bran syrup, muscovado sugar etc. I hope that helps πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks Nicola, nice to know I can get Apple syrup in NZ, I will hunt it down πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Nicola, sounds like a great recipe and I too love the St Dalfours jam so it would be great to make something similar at home! Just wondering, once you put the hot jam into the hot jars do you put the lids on straight away or do you wait for the jam to cool? Thanks, Alison

    1. Hi Alison, yes you put the lids straight on once the hot jam is in the hot jars. Enjoy!

  11. Hi Nicola, I just made this jam with some organic omega plums I picked up at a stall on the side of the road a few weeks ago. It is absolutely delicious – tart and rich! Will be serving it with sourdough crepes and lashings of cream this weekend. Thank you, as always.

    1. Yes! sourdough crepes and cream with dollops of plum jam. Love it!

  12. Hi Nicola, Made your omega plum jam the other day. It is delicious,& tart, Just the way I like it.Added 1/2 teaspoon to natural yoghurt. . Will try it with different things. Thanks Janine Di Luca

    1. Fantastic Janine, I find most jams way too sweet for me so this is perfect. And yes lovely with natural yogurt. This is how I sweeten my children’s yogurts for lunches.

  13. Very interesting post – sweeteners are definitely a controversial topic πŸ™‚
    I often use apple syrup (it is very common and east to get here in the Netherlands) in combination with Marmello ( an organic pectin brand for jam making). Using the pectin means the fruit only needs to be cooked very shortly ( just a minute after the pectin dissolved in the apple syrup is added) which hopefully means more vitamins are preserved.

    1. Great to know Vera, will have to look out for something similar down here. Thanks πŸ™‚

  14. Carolyn Bauer says:

    Hi Nicola, many thanks for the info on Apple Syrup for jam making. Will try that in the future to cut down on the sugar content.
    Have just made a batch of Blackboy jam for the first time which is very yummy.For Jam making, I learnt this tip from my German sister-in-law. I halve the amount of jam per fruit (1Kg fruit to 500g Jam sugar). I put fruit in a stainless steel saucepan, stir in the sugar and leave it sitting for a few hours till all the juices are released. I slowly bring it to the boil and simmer for only 5 mins or so, place it in jars or plastic jam containers and store in fridge. Have done this with all my jams or marmelades and has been very successful.
    My husband and I love our jam with our Sourdough Gluten free bread and Coffee at 11am daily!!!!
    Must go and get it ready now…lovely!

    1. Hi Carolyn, thanks for the tip. I have heard about something similar called ‘nearly’ jam as it isn’t cooked as long and less sugar. I make my slow-cooked fig & lemon jam using this technique although I didn’t realise it was a particular method. So thanks for sharing πŸ™‚
      And what a lovely morning ritual, mine is often eaten hurriedly as we head out the door for the school run. What a busy time of life this is!

  15. Hi Nicola,

    I’m in love with your recipes and blogs and website! I’m so happy to stumble upon you – I heard you talk on the RNZ on preserving and it all happened from there.
    Just a quick question, your preserving technique using the water bath way would work fine here too, I presume? And they would last for about 6 months, unopened?

    1. Hi Josie, yes of-course using a water bath to heat process the jam is a great idea to safely preserve for 6 months.
      I am glad you are enjoying reading my blog!

  16. Ruth Stephens says:

    HI Nicola I’ve also been trying to make plum preserves with less sugar – good tip with the apply syrup! Could this also work with apple juice concentrate? Or is this a different product entirely. Have you tried making your own apple syrup from abundant apple harvests? Also interested in homemade fruit syrups (as low in sugar as poss) to use with soda water as a drink. Any tips? Cheers, Ruth

    1. Hi Ruth, thanks for the message. I think you could also use apple juice concentrate, although it would be as syrupy as apple syrup so may take a little longer to cook down. Let me know how you go as my plums are finished now to try this year. You can make your own apple syrup by boiling down apple juice until it is thick and syrupy, it takes several hours depending on how low you can get the heat, the slower the better. I have a slow-roasted grape syrup to give you an idea on making low sugar syrups. You can find the recipe here:
      https://www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz/2014/02/19/slow-roasted-grape-syrup/
      Good luck!

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