natural vs. sure gel jam

Food & Beverage

June 28, 2016

let me start out by quoting queen bey, I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

jelly 1

i love canning and i’m terrified of botulism. which is a conundrum for me. the first year i canned so much stuff and ended up throwing it all away because i was convinced it was laced with microorganisms that would slowly paralyze me in my sleep and i would wake up dead. seriously i dumped so much out into the dumpster. that was then (about five years ago) and this is now.

another thing i have also gotten over was this frantic frantic scurry that berries once gone were never going to come back. i would spend seriously $100 on strawberries canning enough for joe and i and the dogs to completely survive the apocalypse with just eating jam and toast. however as i grow and mature i realize how much fun it is to just relax and enjoy the seasons and eating along with them. canning jams are meant for special treats and little mood boosts when you need a bit of summer in the dead of winter.

usually i try to cut out sugar (as much as possible) and try to keep things natural. last week sunday i canned strawberry jam au natural but time and resources got in the way of me continuing and i needed a quick option to finish out the bunch. hence the sure gel. i thought i would do a little compare and contrast on canning with mother natural and canning with… aunt processed? seriously she needs a name.

lets start with all natural.
jelly 3
recipe: i used a recipe from one of my canning books that called for 3lbs of berries, lemon juice, lemon rind and about 3 cups of sugar. you cook the berries for about 10 minutes over the stove top then strain the juice into a bowl. cook the juice down until it thickens, add berry hunks, sugar and lemon and boil for about 10 more minutes. all in all it took about 45 minutes to actually boil the berries and make the jam. (about 10 minutes to can)
pros: used less than half the amount of sugar as a freezer recipe or “quick process” jam. the berries stayed mostly whole ( i like it chunky) and the taste seems truest to that of a michigan strawberry. (which are the best)
cons: took a really long time over a hot stove in the summer. also 3lbs of berries made 1.5 pints.

jelly 2
i used the recipe chart on the box of sure gel.

pros: this recipe was fast (about 15 minutes total) and it was high yeild. i made about 4 pints of jam from 3lbs of strawberries.

cons: it used a TON of sugar (7 cups) i mean a little ridiculous. i didn’t care for that the sugar seemed to overpower the natural sweetness of the strawberries. also it gave the jam a more gel like texture than an actual spread.

parting thoughts: while i did appreciate the quick turn around time of the sure gel i’m turning into more of a purist and i really appreciated the taste as well as the texture of the all natural. i am going to buy one more little box at the farmers market wednesday if there are any left in season. i want to infuse some jam with lavender.


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  1. Shelley says:

    You have to try the low sugar freezer jam made with the low sugar surejell! I tried the canned version & none of us liked it, the freezer jam is a hit with everyone!!

  2. I’ve been making jam for several years and turned my hobby into a business. I just recently made Lavender & Vanilla jam and my new flavor this year is Chocolate Banana.

    Give me a shout if you have any questions.

Abigail Albers       Author

Abby is a wife and mother, antique shopper, entrepreneur, gardener, sheep lady, sequin enthusiast and your Midwest Martha Stewart Wannabe.. Follow her on instagram @adventuresinabbyland.

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