My berry favorite time of the year!

Strawberry season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier!  I often entertain the idea of putting in a berry patch of my own, but I just can’t bring myself to part with the precious growing space for a 3 week harvest, especially since I can head to the farm and pick Josh’s.

Last year I decided to make all of my jams and jellies using low-sugar recipes; this year, after I talk to my local extension office of course, I want to make the switch from refined to raw sugar.  I assume the two are interchangeable, but I just want to hear it from an expert!  With the exception of my homemade jams and jellies, I rarely consume refined sugar.  Not only are refined products lacking in nutrition, but when you take into consideration that roughly 90% of sugar beets grown in the US are GMO sugar beets and of that 90%, over 54% are used in sugar production, we’ve got a serious double-whammy on our hands!  Sugar, like anything in moderation, is okay, but when taken to the level of consumption that we Americans do, it’s down right evil!  (I will now step down from my virtual soap-box.)

::UPDATE::  Turns out the two ARE NOT interchangeable!  Here is what the PennState extension office wrote when I asked about canning with raw sugar: The definition of raw sugar is the residue left after sugarcane has been processed to remove the molasses and refine the sugar crystals.  In this raw state, the sugar may contain contaminants such as molds and fibers.  In the United States, so-called raw sugar has been purified to remove dangerous contaminants.  There has not been USDA or Ball Company research using raw sugar in canning.  However, I can think of the following concerns for canning with raw sugar: If there are contaminants present in the raw sugar, it would increase the chance of spoilage of canned goods.  The flavor of raw sugar may mask the natural flavor of fruits being canned.  The color and impurities of the sugar may distort the color of the canned product.  I do not know of any research showing pH changes when canning with raw sugar—it is a possibility but I don’t know for sure.  The granular structure of raw sugar differs from regular granulated sugar; you might need more raw sugar to have the same degree of sweetness.  So there you have it folks, when in doubt ask!  I’ve found info online from “Betty Homemaker” and “Joe Schmo” about substituting raw sugar for white stating to up the amount of sugar by 20%; for baking, sure, go for it, when canning, hell no!!!  I’m following the advise of an expert!

Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam

1 box Sure-Jell Pectin for less or no sugar recipes
6 cups mashed strawberries
4 cups sugar
Mash strawberries and place in a large pot on the stove.  Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with the pectin and add it to the strawberries.  Bring to a boil; add remaining sugar and return to a hard boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Wipe jar rims; add lids and rings.  Process in a boiling-water bath according to your current altitude, 10 minutes for me.  Remove from canner and place on wire rack to cool.  Allow seals to set, 12-24 hours.  Remove rings and store.
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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Jam & Jelly, Vegan, Vegetarian

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