Recipe: Maple-Sweetened Blueberry Rhubarb Jam (gluten-free, vegan, cane sugar-free)

I love making low-sugar jams that with unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, evaporated palm sugar, or coconut sugar. These low-sugar jams aren't at all hard to make, thanks to the thickening power of pectin. There are a few brands of pectin available, and you can even make your own out of apple scraps, but I always go for Pamona's Pectin. Eventually I'll try making my own pectin, but right now the cheery blue box of Pamona's is a reliable and easy choice.

Pamona's Pectincan be a little tricky to find in stores. In the Twin Cities area, I know for sure that the Wedge Community Co-opand Whole Foods both carry it (the price is better at Whole Foods). I would recommend calling your local co-ops or natural foods stores to see if they have it before making the trip. If they don't stock it, they may be able to order it for you, so be sure to ask. And if you can't find at any of your local grocers, you can find it online very easily, either by the box or in bulk. I'd love to order a bulk bag of it, since it is much cheaper and pectin lasts forever. Every box of Pamona's has very detailed instructions and basic recipe frameworks, so if you've never canned before, they make it very easy to start.

I'm on a bit of a canning kick this summer and had a bevy of blueberries and rhubarb, so I thought it a good idea to combine them and make a delightful jam. I chose maple syrup for the sweetener, thinking that it would play very well with the blueberries, almost reminiscent of pancakes. For a little twist, I added freshly grated ginger, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg.

The result? Dude, I love this jam! The color is magnificent and the flavor is sweet and spicy. It tastes like the best blueberry pie filling you've ever had. Although it is a bit runny at room temperature (more like a sauce than a jam), once has been refrigerated it becomes firm and "set", like a jam should be. I'd like to try this jam again, maybe with more pectin, and try to get it to firm up better at room temperature. But in the meantime, I'm really happy with this recipe and I want to share it with you. I think this would make a wonderful filling in a sponge cake or a thumbprint cookie, or of course, eaten on toast or muffins. My personal favorite way to use jam is with yogurt or coconut milk ice cream!

I have a ton of yummy jam recipes I want to share with you, so hopefully I'll get myself together and write a bunch of blog posts. Last night I made a palm sugar and agave nectar-sweetened strawberry jam with chocolate mint and black pepper, and it's very very tasty and ravishingly red. My strawberry peach rhubarb jam was a hit at our last MPLS Swappers food swap. And let's not forget the rhubarb apple sauce I made a few weeks ago, or the strawberry rhubarb jam with vanilla and hibiscus, inspired by a recipe from my friend Kate Payne's awesome book Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking. Really, I've been canning like crazy. If you live in the Twin Cities and have jars you don't want, I'll happily take them off your hands. You may get some jam in exchange! :)

This recipe is part of this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge, featuring blueberries. It is our last SOS before Ricki and I take our summer break, so get cookin' and submit your recipe! You have until midnight CST on June 30, 2011 to submit your recipe to our recipe roundup. 

Interested in more  low sugar jams? Check out these recipes:

Please excuse the hellish yellow light in these photos. Canning at night makes for photos that aren't so awesome!

Maple-Sweetened Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

Yield: 5-6 cups

The consistency is a bit runny when the jars are sealed at room temperature, but once the jam has been refrigerated, it will thicken considerably and be "set" like jam should be. 

  • 5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, trimmed and finely chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 tsp calcium water (included with Pamona's Pectin)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp Pamona's Pectin

If using frozen blueberries, let them thaw until soft. Place fresh or thawed blueberries and rhubarb in a medium saucepan with rhubarb, calcium water, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until rhubarb is soft. While it cooks, mash the fruit with a potato masher until much of the fruit is squished and there are some chunks left for texture. The other option is that you can use an immersion blender to blend the the fruit while it cooks.  You can blend it totally smooth, or leave some of it chunky if you prefer more texture.  I prefer more texture, so I always leave some chunks in my jam. 

While fruit mixture it is cooking, mix together the maple syrup and Pamona's Pectin until smooth. Once fruit is soft, return to a boil, then add maple and whisk vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve pectin. Remove from heat. Immediately transfer fruit mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place on lid and screw on band finger-tight, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from water bath and let sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours before checking seal.  Label jars, store in a dark place, and consume within 1 year.  If jars did not seal, refrigerate and consume within 2-3 weeks, or freeze for 6 months. 


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