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Making Low Sugar Peach Jam

We have this peach tree at the farmstead that is KILLER!  When you bite into one of those peaches, the juice just runs down your chin, your hand, your arm…You get the picture.

Peach jam

I wanted to capture that flavor (and memory) in a jar to enjoy during the winter months. But if I used  a typical pectin-peach jam recipe, all you would taste is granulated sugar because a standard recipe calls for 7 cups of sugar. Yes 7 CUPS!

These peaches were sweet enough on their own. They didn’t need that much sugar.

But when canning with pectin, that sugar is not there for flavor.

It is there to create the gel.

The delicate balance of a jam recipe is like a crazy science experiment in that the sugar meshes with the pectin and the acidity of the fruit to create the firm product. If you cut back on the sugar, you get syrup and no gel.

So, you have two choices when you have this dilemma.

You can either skip the pectin and do a long cooking process to reach the “gel” stage (like candy making) OR you can use a low sugar pectin.

Being short on time, I opted for option 2.

How Does Low Sugar Pectin Work?

Low sugar pectin has added calcium and that combined with the acid of the fruit will cause the gel to take place.

So, if you buy a low or no sugar pectin at the store, it will work with no sugar, or  honey or even stevia and you won’t end up with a runny mess.

So with my low sugar pectin in hand, I combined my peaches with only 3 cups of sugar and ended up with a jam that tastes just like that run-down-your-chin bite of summer!

And yes, I could have reduced the sugar even more if I wanted to.

That is the beauty of low sugar pectins.

How Jam gels

My recipe is below. And if you like low sugar jams, I also have a low sugar vanilla strawberry jam HERE.

Low Sugar Peach Jam Recipe

4 1/2 cups finely chopped (peeled) peaches (see blanching instructions below)

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1 packet low/no sugar pectin (see notes below)

1/2 tsp butter (optional)

Makes 6 half-pint canning jars (or 12 of the mini 4 oz jars)

How to blanch peaches

Pealing: To peel the peaches, you need to blanch them. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Use a sharp knife to cut an X on one end of each peach. Drop the peaches into the boiling water (one or two at a time) for about 30-60 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out of the water and then do the next group. After blanching, the skin will easily peel right off and you can then chop and measure your fruit.

Low/No Sugar Pectin: There are several low sugar pectin’s on the market and each has their own “order of operations” when using. Be sure to read the instructions that come in your package and if it tells you to add ingredients in a different order, follow the box instructions instead of mine.

For this recipe, I used Sure Jell No Sugar Needed Pectin which is commonly found in my local stores. But I also really like Pomona’s Universal Pectin because it contains no preservatives. I sometimes have to mail order that one. (But it is well worth it)

Making the Jam:

Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water and rinse. Fill a water bath canner with water and your empty jars (with lids off) and bring to a simmer.

This will serve two purposes: It will heat the water for the water bath processing and will heat the jars for filling with hot jam. You are not sterilizing the jars as this is not needed when you will be processing for 10 minutes or longer. You are just heating them for filling.

Be sure that the water level is high enough to cover all the jars with 2 inches of water when processing later. Check the instructions on your box of jar lids and follow them. For mine, I placed the jar lids in a sauce pan and cover with hot water until ready to use. I wrote about the different lid instructions here.

Place fruit and lemon juice into a large stockpot. Measure out the sugar and place into a separate bowl.

Then into another smaller bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar from the measured amount and the 1 box of the sure-jell no sugar pectin.

Add just the sugar/pectin mixture to the fruit (leave the remaining sugar out for now) and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat.

While heating, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of butter if you wish (to reduce foaming). Stir constantly to prevent burning.

When the mixture reaches a rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down), add remaining sugar, and the spices and continue to stir.

Bring mixture back to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Pull the hot jars out of the water, dumping the hot water back into the pot as you go. Then ladle the hot jam into the heated jars filling to within 1/8 inch of the top.

Wipe down the rims and add lids and rings. Place jars back into the water canner and bring to a a gentle boil. Process jam for 10 minutes.

Remove jars and allow to cool. Check seals and label.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.


  • TeresaR says:

    Those jams are so beautiful! I bought a jar of low sugar pectin last month but haven’t tried it yet. Maybe I’ll try it with some frozen blueberries. 🙂

  • Julie says:

    I almost cried at the end of SC peach season this year. I ate a beautiful peach every day for lunch this summer, and then suddenly–they were gone. Poof. The end of peach season completely blindsided me before I could can any for a mid-winter treat. Next year, I will be ready with your scrumptious recipe in hand. Thank you!

    • theresa says:

      Oh Julie – I so know what you mean! Our peaches seemed extra good this year too! I wonder if it was the weird weather patterns or just luck. But either way, I am glad that I was able to share my recipe with you for next year.


  • Barbara Johnson says:

    I always thought that low-sugar pectin had an artificial sugar in it, so I stayed clear! Thank you for the education on the calcium added….never knew that. I always HATED adding the 7 cups of sugar to my strawberry jam and next year, I won’t have to. Yayyyy. Only goes to prove…you are never to old to learn something new. Peace, all!!

    • theresa says:

      Well, I suppose you should always check whichever pectin you choose to be sure. I know that Pomona’s pectin (mentioned above) is the most natural one I have found. And I agree with you! I always hated to add all that sugar too! This is so much better tasting. You just taste the fruit and not the sugar. Yum!

  • Barbara Disbrow says:

    I did not see how much this makes. How many jars will I need for this recipe? I also saw another recipe where the recipe was altered by exchanging one cup of sugar for one cup of brown sugar. I can’t wait to get some peaches and try this recipe!

    • theresa says:

      Oops! Sorry Barbara – This recipe makes six 1/2 pint jars. I will add it to the recipe now. Thanks for the heads up.

      As for brown sugar, that is a new one to me. I have never done that. I suppose it would work because brown sugar is still granulated sugar with the addition of molasses. But I have not tried that myself.


  • kiki says:

    just made this delicious first time canning! i added one more tsp. lemon juice & one generous pinch of salt before removing from heat as it still tasted a little sweet to me. thank you for such clear directions & a recipe that’s a keeper!

  • Sarah says:

    Is it okay to straight-up double or triple this recipe? Does it need to be adjusted for larger quantities? Or is it best to just do small batches? (I have a ridiculous amount of peaches)

    • theresa says:

      Hi Sarah,

      It is usually best NOT to double or triple a jam recipe as it does not always gel the same way. But this is especially true when using a boxed pectin. Sorry to say, it is best for you to do one batch at a time or see if you can find a recipe that uses a larger amount of peaches.

  • Angela says:

    Sarah, Last year I made peach jam using the low sugar pectin. The peaches in the jam rose to the top of the jar. I want to make jam again. How can I prevent the fruit from rising to the top of the jar. Thanks. Angela

    • theresa says:

      One way to prevent the fruit from rising it is to wait just a few minutes before pouring into the jars. The extra minutes allow the jam to firm up a bit more and hold the pieces in suspension. However, sometimes (if the jam has a looser set) it doesn’t matter and the fruit will rise to the top. The flavor is the same, so when this happens to me I just give the jam a good stir when I open it up.

  • Jenn says:

    Hey there! I found your recipe and tried it with some beautiful organic peaches from the farmers market today, and only ended up with three 8oz jars! Its VERY sweet, and extra gelled (I imagine because its meant for twice as much jam.) Do you have any ideas on what could have happened?

    • theresa says:

      Hi Jenn,

      This has happened to me before on recipes too. It has to do with how finely you chop the fruit. If you chop into finer pieces you actually use up more peaches. I suspect your “chop” was larger than my “chop”. Make a note of it and next time, chop them into very small 1/4 inch pieces or smaller. (That is the size I do.)

      Another factor can be how ripe they are. The riper fruit has more juice and makes a thinner gel. So a less ripe fruit will have a firmer gel.

      I hope the flavor was still okay!

  • Sue says:

    You mentioned using steiva, is it measure for measure or do adjustments need to be made? I am diabetic and stay away from granulated sugar as much as possible.

    • theresa says:

      Hi Sue-

      No it is not measure for measure. Stevia tends to be sweeter than granulated sugar. I would start out with a small amount and taste to see what you like. It tends to bring out the flavor in a different way – so you don’t need as much.

  • LaVonne says:

    If I want to use some of my peaches for making syrup for pancakes & waffles, could I use this same recipe and just use more fruit, like maybe 6 cups of chopped peaches?

    • theresa says:

      Hi LaVonne-

      If you want to make this recipe into a syrup, I would drop the pectin. You can add more fruit also, but it may not be necessary. Just watch the thickness as you cook. Stop cooking when it reaches the thickness you like.

      Another option is to use peaches in this plum syrup recipe I have on my other canning blog. It has more sugar though.

      Hope that helps. Enjoy!

  • Salma says:

    Well, I am a Canadian so I had Bernardin Brand No Sugar Pectin but I chose your recipe over theirs and I am happy with the results. I added a star anise to 3 of the jars as an experiment and left the others plain. It tasted nice right out of the pot! I did not change the sugar amount because I know that the initial sweetness will reduce over a couple of weeks. I learned this from previous home canning experience. Thanks.

  • Heidi Hihn says:

    Great recipe. I made two batches last night. I enjoyed it on my English muffin this morning and it was delish!! Thanks for sharing the wonderful and easy to make recipe!

  • Kim says:

    Wish I had of read this earlier, I made a batch of peach pepper jam that just did not set. I’ve been canning since I was a kid but got out of it for a fear years (the shame!) and just hadn’t made much jam or jelly. At least, not ones where I would have a reason to use pectin or cut sugar. As a kid jam meant filling a 5 gallon stockpot with blueberries and cooking it down all day long. I will be trying Pomona’s next year, and in the meanwhile I have a bunch of delicious peach pepper sauce! All is not lost, may be a bit too thin for toast but perfect for glazes, marinades, steak and BBQ sauce… I might even pour some over ice cream.

  • Stacy says:

    Made it with 1 c sugar and it was delicious, tasted more like peach instead of sugar.

  • Vanessa says:

    The explanation of gelling really helped me. I want to make low sugar preserves to mix with my homemade yogurt and I would have had syrup if I hadn’t read this. I ordered some Pomona pectin to try. Pricey but not really per jar. Thank you! After I use my friends peaches, I’ll be headed for blueberry and cherry. I’m excited!

  • michelle yeaton says:

    Hi!! going to try this for sure!! Love all the info. xxx

  • Amy says:

    I made a batch of this jam yesterday and it turned out perfect. So much better than the usual high sugar jams. You can actually taste the fruit. I added a pinch of ground cardamom along with the cinnamon and allspice. It turned out really nicely spiced. I appreciate the low sugar tips and recipes.
    Really enjoying your podcast too.

  • christine says:

    I have made a lot of jams before, but this is my first low sugar and peach EVER. I thought I followed the recipe exactly. Other than using one of the many methods for re canning what can I do with my runny jam? It is soooo goood, but I am lazy and have other canning more pressing. How can I use this wonderful runny peachy stuff other than as jam.

  • Lauri says:

    What about higher altitudes? Should I extend the time of the final water bath processing?

  • […] This recipe is reprinted from here […]

  • Donna says:

    I have never made jam before I tried this recipe and loved it. thank you, I think i am hooked i also made blackberry and strawberry jam, i will be giving them to my neighbors and family at Christmas. I can’t wait.Thank you so much

  • Lynn says:

    This has been the most amazing year for peaches and I am determined to extend the season, as I can’t bear for it to end. So where did I go — right to your blog, of course. I blanched a dozen peaches this morning and will freeze them to make this jam a little later. Last year at the holidays, I made spiced pear + apple butter, my first attempt at canning following your article in Fine Gardening. This year, let them eat peaches! I’ll be saving some for myself and a jamtini, too :). Thanks for the best blog and preserving instructions ever.

  • Lynn says:

    Oh, Theresa, I realized I should ask if I can make this jam with blanched and frozen peaches? Or should I start anew by freezing whole, unblanched peaches? Thanks again.

  • Blyuma says:

    Hi, Theresa! I am new to your blog and canning in general. This Year was my first to can and, thanks to you, I am picking up priceless tips.
    Thanks a lot!!!

  • Janet Drobiak says:

    Just sat down, 3 pints are still on their 10 minuets. Reciepe was easy and loved the explanations. I like cinnamon but thought this might be too much, only used 1tsp. Still too much for my taste. This might need to be adjusted to taste. Next time I will only use 1/4tsp. Can’t wait to open a jar Sunday morning.

  • ej says:

    I love this recipe! I adapted it to take out all the sugar except 1/8 cup I mix with the pectin. I add in 1/2 C. apple juice and honey on occasion. MMMMM!!! Thanks!

  • Susan Gaudian says:

    Rhubarb peach jam. Low sugar recipe? Any ideas. Thank you

  • Jim says:

    I chopped the peaches up tiny, used 2 cups of sugar & got 4 half-pints of FABULOUS jam. Thanks!!

  • Kara says:

    I made this recipe yesterday as my first foray into jam making and it came out awesome! My 6 year old said “Mom, this is so good!!” It’s still a bit sweeter than I like, (I used 2.75 cups of sugar) but it set great and was not difficult. Why haven’t I done this before?!
    Because I’m a newbie, I didn’t want to stray too far from the recipe. How little sugar can I use and still have a good set? The peaches we got are amazing on their own and don’t need sugar! Thanks for any info and thanks for this recipe! So delicious!

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