Last year was very challenging from a food perspective. I sought help from my eastern medicine doctor when gastrointestinal issues had worsened to produce symptoms similar to what I was experiencing 9 years ago that were resolved by eliminating gluten from my diet. Of the many things that were removed from my diet temporarily last year, sugar in most formats (including honey, maple, many fruits) proved to be the most challenging. This sugar free jelly was born from this time and might serve others who must cut out sugar entirely for medical or general wellness reasons.
I made a really small batch to test the pectin level and consistency with a little of my reserved juice, but have upped the recipe to reflect a full batch. Do not double this recipe, make it twice if you have more juice. This recipe uses Pomona’s Pectin and I have not reformulated to use other brands (that do not utilize calcium water as does Pomona’s to achieve a low- or no-sugar set). Please let me know if you try it with another no-sugar pectin brand, as I do not have plans to do so.
Sugar-free concord grape jelly
yields approximately 9 4-oz jars
1. Make juice by mashing stemmed concord grapes a cup at a time as you add them to a saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Approximately 3lbs of concords will yield between 3-4 cups juice. Slice thinly (seeds and all) one medium-sized underripe or just ripe apple. Once all the grapes are mashed, scatter the apple over the top of the mash and bring to a boil. Place lid over the pan and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Strain juice through a jelly bag, then refrigerate juice overnight so the tartaric acid crystals form and settle at the bottom of the bowl.
3. The next day, pour juice through a fine wire mesh strainer and measure 3.75 cups concord grape juice. Add 3 tsp Pomona’s calcium water and bring to a boil in a heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot while you prepare your pectin.
4. In a separate saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Remove water from heat and pour it directly into a blender or food processor. While pulsing the blender or food processor add 3 tsp Pomona’s dry pectin powder and turn on the machine to evenly distribute it very quickly.
5. Add hot pectin mixture to the boiling juice and stir well to incorporate and dissolve the pectin mixture. Return the juice mixture to a boil and then remove from heat. Process immediately in quarter pint or half pint jars with 1/2” headspace for 10 minutes in a waterbath canner.
This jelly has a tart edge to it without any sweetener, but the pure concord flavor shines and really made my morning toast special again in my sugar-free days.