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  • Class covers small-batch jams and marmalades

    Master Food Preservers will lead a class on making small-batch jams and marmalades
  • An inventory of home-canned goods coincided with Kathleen Crawford's critical look at her diet. In both areas, the Master Food Preserver says she saw plenty of room for improvement.
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    • Light on the sugar
      Try these methods from McClatchy News Service for low- and no-sugar strawberry jams.
      Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam: Combine 4 cups mashed strawberries with 2 teaspoons calcium water (calcium is inclu...
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      Light on the sugar
      Try these methods from McClatchy News Service for low- and no-sugar strawberry jams.

      Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam: Combine 4 cups mashed strawberries with 2 teaspoons calcium water (calcium is included with Pomona's Universal Pectin) in a large Dutch oven or saucepot. Stir well and cook over medium-high heat. Measure out 2 cups sugar and 2 teaspoons Pomona's pectin in a bowl and set aside. Once fruit comes to a boil, add sugar and pectin. Stir to dissolve, for 1 to 2 minutes. Once mixture returns to a boil, remove from heat and ladle into hot canning jars. Fill to within 14-inch of top. Wipe rims. Add two-piece lids. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water-bath canner. Note: You can adjust amounts of sweetener used in this recipe from 12 cup to 1 cup honey or 34 cup to 2 cups sugar.

      No-Sugar Strawberry Jam: Combine 6 cups mashed strawberries, 34 cup water and 1 box (1.75-ounce) less- or no-sugar pectin in a large Dutch oven or saucepot. Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down) over high heat, stirring continuously. Boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat. Stir in 4 cups granulated Splenda. Skim off any foam or clumps of Splenda. Ladle mixture into hot canning jars, filling to within 14-inch of the top. Wipe rims. Add two-piece lids. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water-bath canner.
  • An inventory of home-canned goods coincided with Kathleen Crawford's critical look at her diet. In both areas, the Master Food Preserver says she saw plenty of room for improvement.
    "At a certain point, I have too much," says the Jacksonville resident. "Why would I eat the 5-year-old jam when I've got 2-year-old jam?
    "I've wasted my time and my money."
    Her waistline and health also were suffering from the sugar in traditional preserves, says Crawford. So she simultaneously explored ways to reduce the sugar in her recipes and the total yields, leaving her with less to consume.
    "I just wasn't going to eat as much of those types of things."
    Crawford plans to share her methods in a July 31 class at Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center. Following up on the not-so-sweet theme is instruction in artisan jams and marmalades, planned for Aug. 19 at the Extension.
    Low- and no-sugar pectins will be put to use in both classes. Common brands are Ball and Sure-Jell. If Splenda or liquid sweeteners are desired, many experts recommend Pomona's Universal Pectin, which uses calcium, rather than large quantities of sugar, to set preserves. The key is finding recipes from reputable sources, such as the Extension, that call for such ingredients.
    Developing one's own recipes, however, is the primary lesson from Master Food Preserver Rebecca Blackman, who also focuses on small batches for the sake of experimentation.
    Banana jam, chai spice-apple jam and vanilla-lemon marmalade are the highlights of her August artisan class. The Ashland resident, who studied culinary arts, also plans to help participants build confidence for combining flavors in unexpected ways.
    "It has to taste good; the texture has to be good," she says.
    Beyond bestowing homemade preserves as gifts, Blackman says she likes to envision how she'll incorporate them in other recipes. Her vanilla-lemon marmalade heightens the citrus notes in lemon-pepper chicken. Watermelon jam arose from craving that taste in a cupcake. Similarly, Blackman's banana jam makes a quick cake filling.
    "I like bananas, and sometimes I don't want a whole banana," she says.
    A piece of one fruit and a bit of another, pureed and frozen, are the base for Crawford's mixed-fruit jam. Salvaging produce past its prime is one goal of small-batch preserving, says Crawford. Putting up just four 4-ounce containers at a time, she needs only a regular soup pot for the boiling-water bath, she adds.
    "If you have a smaller batch, you don't need a huge canner."
    Nor does the preservation process require as much time, adds Crawford. But there's also less time for enjoying low- and no-sugar jams, which spoil much more quickly than standard recipes that rely on sugar to safeguard the color, texture and shelf life of fruit.
    Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at thewholedish@gmail.com.
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