After my attempt earlier this summer of substituting some honey for sugar in strawberry preserves, I was so encouraged by all your comments that I knew I would try my next batch without any sugar at all. Being a complete novice, I hadn't really planned on blogging about it, but I was so happy with the results I couldn't wait to share with you!
It's blackberry season here and these local blackberries are honestly some of the best I have ever had. This is the second gallon I've bought from a local farmer's market, but this time I wanted to try making some preserves with them (saving a little extra for snacking, of course!).
I really haven't found a lot of information out there about making jam without pectin and using honey instead of sugar, but I did find this article very helpful. A lot of what I have read has mentioned you can use honey as an equal substitute for sugar, so I went that route to be on the safe side.
I only used two ingredients: blackberries and honey. I found that I had to let the mixture cook about twice as long. After about half an hour, I did a sheet test and really couldn't tell if it was thick enough or not. Then I read in the article linked above about taking a spoonful of the mixture with a cold spoon and letting it sit and cool to room temperature to see if it jells. It jelled almost right away and I could hardly believe it. I knew it wouldn't set like jam with pectin, but I was so surprised that it really had a jell-like texture.
I had a little extra that wasn't quite enough for another jar, so I placed it in the refrigerator. (I save cute store-bought jars that don't have any writing on them for leftovers and this purpose.) It set perfectly, but still has a spreadable consistency. This picture was even taken before it cooled completely... if I turn the jars upside down, the preserves don't even move.
I also found that the honey taste wasn't strong at all. A reader (Sarah) had commented on my strawberry preserves that with honey, the jam is sweeter and tastes more natural like fresh berries off the vine. I definitely found that to be true. I'm still learning, but I think the key is cooking it to exactly the right consistency and using the right proportions. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to pectin jams now and maybe one day I'll get it just right (smile)!
Pectin-Free Blackberry Preserves Made with Honey
Makes about 3 half-pint jars
- A heaping 4 cups fresh blackberries (I packed these tightly down when measuring and probably used a little more)
- 2 cups honey
- In a stainless steel saucepan, combine berries and honey. Stir and set aside for a few minutes while you gather your canning supplies.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids. (For more details, see Ball's canning guide here)
- Bring berries to a boil over medium heat. Boil hard, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (I found it to take about 30 minutes, but I kept a close eye on the mixture). Test the gel and when it's at the right consistency, remove from heat.
- Spoon preserves into prepared, hot jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Wipe rim, center lid on jar and screw band down.
- Place jars in your canner, completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove lid, wait 5 minutes and remove jars to cool and store.