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Sugar standards for Jam and Jelly

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Is there a standard amount of sugar required in fruit preserves such as jams and jelly and is there a scientific way to test it. 

Commercial products seem to contain more sugar than fruit. Is that just for profit?  I make mine with about 20% sugar or just enough to sweeten the pulp without masking the flavor. Does the low added sugar content have any negative effect on storage life? 

I'll be checking with the local Cornell Cooperative Extension but this forum is always quicker. 

post #2 of 17
The amount of sugar added can vary, its not exact. I wouldnt nessesary say that its just for profit. The fruit pulp and sugar are boiled together, this dissolves the sugar, as well as removes water through evaporation. When you have a sufficient amount of sugar, it preserves the fruit mixture, hence, its called a preserve. The way you normally would measure the density of a jam/jelly/preserve/marmalade is with a refractometer, this instrument uses the brix scale. During boiling, you put a small amount of the mixture on the prism and look through the eye piece. You'll see where you mixture is on the brix scale. The brix scale tell you the percentage of dissolved solids in your mixture. This can be used to test a sorbet mixture, a jam, sugar syrups of all densities, and jams. In order for a product to be shelf stable without refrigeration, you need your jam to be at 75° brix. This means there is sufficient dissolved solids (fruit puree/pulp, together with sugar) and an insufficient amount of water in the product. The small amount of water in the product is not enough to allow bacterial growth, thus you have a preserve.

As for your question about low added sugar content affecting shelf life, it most certianly does. When you boil your mixture to remove the water, you need to reach 75% dissolved solids. If you added just a tiny amount of sugar and removed the right amount of water, you'd basically be left with fruit leather. If you dont remove enough water, you can definitely have a jam, but depending on the % brix of the final product, if its lower then 75° brix, it will have to be refrigerated. If its left out at room temp, the mixture would contain enough water to support bacterial growth, and your preserve would eventually spoil quicker then if your mixture was at 75° brix.

So rule of the thumb, for your perfect textbook preserve, follow whenever recipe you want, get a refractometer, boil your mixture to 75° brix, and enjoy.

Just a little extra info. This also applies to candied fruit. When you candy fruit, you immurse your fresh fruit (say, fresh kumquats) in a 40° brix syrup. Each day you increase the density of your syrup by about 5%. What happens here is that your replacing all thw water inside the fruit with a sugar syrup. After a few weeks, your syrup will be at 75° brix. If done properly, the entire amount of water in the fruit will be replace with a 75° brix syrup. That being the case, the fruit is now candied and would not require refrigeration to preserve it, since its preserved with a dense syrup. Hope this all made sense!

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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Wow. Thank you very much for the detailed answer. That's exactly what I wanted to know. I'm off to buy a refractometer now. 

post #4 of 17

WOW! I had no clue, really.

I've added that product to the upper right hand side of the page, I thought that a refractometer would be costly...

post #5 of 17

I made several types of jams last year with stevia, using the low/no sugar pectin and then can in a hot water bath. No spoilage.

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minas6907 View Post

The amount of sugar added can vary, its not exact. I wouldnt nessesary say that its just for profit. The fruit pulp and sugar are boiled together, this dissolves the sugar, as well as removes water through evaporation. When you have a sufficient amount of sugar, it preserves the fruit mixture, hence, its called a preserve. The way you normally would measure the density of a jam/jelly/preserve/marmalade is with a refractometer, this instrument uses the brix scale. During boiling, you put a small amount of the mixture on the prism and look through the eye piece. You'll see where you mixture is on the brix scale. The brix scale tell you the percentage of dissolved solids in your mixture. This can be used to test a sorbet mixture, a jam, sugar syrups of all densities, and jams. In order for a product to be shelf stable without refrigeration, you need your jam to be at 75° brix. This means there is sufficient dissolved solids (fruit puree/pulp, together with sugar) and an insufficient amount of water in the product. The small amount of water in the product is not enough to allow bacterial growth, thus you have a preserve.

As for your question about low added sugar content affecting shelf life, it most certianly does. When you boil your mixture to remove the water, you need to reach 75% dissolved solids. If you added just a tiny amount of sugar and removed the right amount of water, you'd basically be left with fruit leather. If you dont remove enough water, you can definitely have a jam, but depending on the % brix of the final product, if its lower then 75° brix, it will have to be refrigerated. If its left out at room temp, the mixture would contain enough water to support bacterial growth, and your preserve would eventually spoil quicker then if your mixture was at 75° brix.

So rule of the thumb, for your perfect textbook preserve, follow whenever recipe you want, get a refractometer, boil your mixture to 75° brix, and enjoy.
 

 

I have a question; This is all very theoretical, isn't it? I can understand that a finished and cooled jam can be tested on °Brix, but how do you proceed practically with your refractometer when starting a batch of jam?

 

I just finished making jam with 2 kilos of now seasonal cherries. Say you were to make the perfect cherry jam using your refractometer... then what?

 

This is very interesting since I make quite a lot of jams; http://www.cheftalk.com/t/77349/what-kind-of-jams-are-you-making-its-jam-time

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

I would not say it is completely theoretical. As with much of cooking, there are traditions we follow because we are told to. In this case, from what I've learned so far about jam making, enormous quantities of sugar always seem to be called for.  I find that makes most jams overly sweet for me and I have a big sweet tooth. So the question for me is how little  sugar I can add to fruit and still can jam or jelly successfully. 

Now that Minas6907 has pointed it out, I know  it is not so much the added sugar content as the remaining moisture content that makes the difference. 

     On a practical level, this means I will simply cook the sweetened fruit for a longer period of time to evaporate all the water, rather than achieve the same affect by dumping in a lot of sugar. I can the jam and jelly with a water bath and have not had any problems so far but up until now I have always used more sugar. The refractometer should be  a great way to know factually whether or not the jam has reached the proper point of "doneness".  As I will also be making various pickled vegetables, a ph tester is next on my list of toys to get. 

post #8 of 17
@ChrisBelgium

I wouldnt say that its theoretical. You actually are able to measure the brix during boiling. The sample put on the prism will cool sufficiently for you to get a reading. As for your question 'how do you proceed practically with your refractometer when starting a batch of jam?' Well...you dont. The refractometer is used almost like a thermometer. It tells you when its finished. You dont use it at the beginning of cooking. As for your second question about 'making thr perfect cherry jam with the refractometer....then what?' Then you enjoy your jam knowing its shelf stable! In all practical purposes, if its below 75°brix its probably going to get consumed before if spoils, and thats fine for making jams for yourself and your friends. I personally would absolutely never sell a product that was below 75°brix, because it wont have as long of a shelf life as I want, and it will spoil faster then a jam at 75°brix, where there is not enough water to support bacterial growth. Also, most people keeps jams in the fridge, which greatly helps to extend the shelf life if its below 75°brix. Im definitely not say that if the product is below 75°brix its like poison. Again, refrigeration and the facts that its consumed in a reasonable amount of time make it fine. If you were going to sell your jams though, I would do everything to give the consumer the longest shelf life possible.

What I do with a refractometer is not jams, but pate de fruit...which more or less is a jam in that its composed the same way. If I dont bring my boiling mixture to 75°brix, I can still cast the mixture into a frame, have the set up fine, cut, dredge in sugar, and they will look and taste fine. But give it a day and the jellies will start to sweat. They will become sticky and not visually appealing in the least. This also means that my jellies will have a shorter shelf life then I woukd otherwise have. The fact that there is water leeching out tells me that there was too much water inside the mixture when I cast the candies, and I should have boiled longer. If I boil until the mixture to 75°brix, I wont have those problems. Jams are more forgiving. You wont really see them sweat, its just a fruit spread.

The same is true with candied fruit. Say if I only bring my kumquats to 60°brix (which at this point would definitely look candied) they would taste fine, and be ok for a time at room temp, but time, you may find some mold. Again, too much water in the fruit.

The original post was asking about standards for jams and jelly. I took that from the perspective of production. If you making jams to sell, you should know how much water is in your product, since that will affect the shelf life.

As for what @chefbubba said, I cant comment on the make up of jams that use the no sugar pectins or Stevia, thats a whole area I dont have any experience in.

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post #9 of 17

so what you're saying is if I'm not selling my jams jellies and marmalade, I don't need to use a refractor then

I make mine with non-sugar pectin and Splenda as well as with granulated sugar and have no complaints from friends and family, just requests for more!

post #10 of 17

Thanks for your reply, @Minas6907, refractometers are as I thought not made for making jams. Using it while the jam is boiling is not really practical. A refractometer gives only correct readings at an ambient temperature of 20°C. They even provide that thing with a rubber handle to prevent influence from the warmth of your hand holding it. So, waiting for a drop of boiling hot jam-in-the-making to cool down first, before putting it in the refractometer, while the pot of jam is boiling away is not very practical to say the least.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, a refractometer only serves to determin the brax value after the jam is made and cooled. It has no use in finding out how much sugar to use for a given batch of fresh fruit.

I'm also not all that convinced that a jam should be taken to 75°brax. that means simply that the jam or jelly holds 75% of sugar, which is very high but not impossible if the jam cooks for hours and the sugar content gets systematically higher due to the evaporation of liquid in the jam; maybe your pâte de fruit or confit fruits go to such a high brix value?

 

I'm not making jams and jellies for selling, it's for personal use only. I even made "membrillo" a few times, a pâte de fruit made from quince.

 

Homemade jam and jelly need much more a pragmatical approach. But, rule of thumb since ages; 1 kilo net fruit and 1 kilo of sugar does the trick. And 1 kilo of juice with 1,2 kilo of sugar for (clear) jellies.

However, jam making is not a matter of sugar content alone. The jellification happens when the pectin and acid in the sugary concoction start to work together to form a type of gel. You can add all sugar you want to a strawberry jam, it won't set as long as there's no pectin added. Strawberries don't have pectin.

Also, it's always a good idea to add the acidic juice of a lemon per 1,5 - 2 kilos of net fruit to activate the natural pectin in the fruit you use.

 

Nowadays, imo, it's best to simply use commercially available pectin sugar. It's a sugar with added pectin and citric acid. It exist in different pectin/sugar concentrations, so reading the package helps, following the instructions to the letter is a must. The advantage of using pectin sugar, is that you can reduce the sugar content. I now always use 1000 grams (1 kilo) of net fruit for 800 grams of pectin sugar. I know people who use an even much lower pectin sugar content. Also and very important; the cooking time of jam made with pectin sugar is 4 minutes!!! You could go to 7 minutes, after that the jam may coagulate  no longer! The jam sets when cooled down.

Pectin is not something artificial. Pectin is a natural product that appears in most fruits. Citrus and apples for instance have a very high pectin content while as said earlier, strawberries have almost no pectin. I don't use pectin sugar when making jellies, it makes the jelly cloudy.

 

And then there's of course the jams and jellies made with a sugar alternative like Chef Buba does. Pectin can be bought separately, so you can use it in combination with sugar or stevia etc.

post #11 of 17

Hi Chris, I do appreciate your response.

 

Refractometers are instruments for measuring the amount of dissolved solids in a solution. They really are used for jams and jellies, this ensures your putting out a consistent product. Automatic Temperature Compensating refractometers are not uncommon. You definitely would use it during boiling, along with, or as a more accurate replacement to a thermometer. Something I've been doing for a few years is collecting videos on youtube of chocolatiers and confectioners. This reminded me of a particular confectionery in France, the video shows a number of items that they make, but in the making of a marmalade, a refractometer is used to check the density, and thus tells them when to pull the mixture off the heat. You can see that at 4:30 in the video.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-LJd52G1A0

 

Theres other items that you'd use a refractometer for, pate de fruit (like I mentioned previously,) but agar agar jellies and starch based jellies (most commonly, turkish delight) You have to use the refractometer while it is boiling, the reading will tell you if its time to pull the mixture off the heat, or if it needs to boil for a few minutes longer. It's important because pectin and starch (not agar agar) are not thermoreversable. If I'm making pate de fruit or turkish delights, and stop boiling short of where it should be, cast into my frame and let set up. I'd come back and see my jellies sweating from the excess water in them (which would also shorten my shelf life). From here I cant reboil my jellies (because of their having non-thermoreversible properties), so checking my product with a refractometer at this point is useless, it has to be discarded.

 

Having a jam at 75 degrees brix means that there is 75% dissolved solids in the mixture. This is not just sugar, the strained fruit puree is included with this %. You mentioned about my pate de fruit and confit fruits going to such a high brix value, and I can definitely assure you that they do. I make sure that my pate de fruit goes to 75% brix, if I go too much lower, again, I'll get sweating on my jellies and they will look rather ugly. Also, at 75% brix, I am assured of a very long shelf life, and this does not take hours of boiling, its in the boiling pot for about 7 to 8 minutes, then cast into a frame or deposited with a funnel. Same with the candied fruit (or even more importantly). I want to be sure that the dense sugar syrup has completely penetrated to the inside of the fruit, since its candied whole, and not pureed like the pate de fruit.

 

Anyways, I'm obviously coming from a different angle then the original poster had in mind, so maybe I shouldn't have commented on this topic. Hope I didnt offend you at all or anything, I didnt mean to challenge you.

post #12 of 17

I think your contribution is more valued than you think, Minas! Very interesting video where indeed they use a refractometer for making "confiture de mandarins" (tangerine jam) from the juice to which they add the peel and sugar. Strange thing is that they check with the refractometer at a temperature of ... only 62°C.  They don't say anything about heating the jam higher than that too.

At the end they mention that you can taste a jam made of rose petals at their shop.

 

Also very interesting first part of the video where they make sugar cristallized flour petals. Never knew how they made that! Thanks for posting.

 

Seems you're very right about using a refractometer in jam making. So there should be some technique behind this that interest me enormously!

post #13 of 17
I have just purchased a refractometer, as I am a preserve manufacturer and need to be ready for new regulations. I have always labelled my preserves with %'s but of course realise there is sugar in the fruit which will change my sugar content reading. I would like to test out the refractometer, but want to check if to get a correct reading would need to use freshly produced jam or whether I can use a jar that has previously been made and still get an accurate reading please?
post #14 of 17

to answer the original question of why commercial jams and jellies are high in sugar is because there is a Standard of Identity according to food regulations:

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=150.160

USA regulation: 21CFR150.160

excerpt:

(1) The mixture referred to in paragraph (a) of this section shall be composed of not less than: (i) In the case of a fruit ingredient consisting of a Group I fruit or a permitted combination exclusively of Group I fruits, 47 parts by weight of the fruit ingredient to each 55 parts by weight of the saccharine ingredient; and (ii) in all other cases, 45 parts by weight of the fruit ingredient to each 55 parts by weight of the saccharine ingredient. The weight of the fruit ingredient shall be determined in accordance with paragraph (d)(2) of this section, and the weight of the saccharine ingredient shall be determined in accordance with paragraph (d)(5) of this section.

 

(5) The soluble-solids content of the finished jam or preserve is not less than 65 percent (which means above 65 brix)

 

Saccharine refers to saccharide derived sugars i.e. glucose, maltose, sucrose, fructose.

 

Canadian regulation: B.11.202 [S]. (Naming the fruit) Jam

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/C.R.C.,_c._870/page-132.html#docCont

  • (a) shall be the product obtained by processing fruit, fruit pulp, or canned fruit, by boiling to a suitable consistency with water and a sweetening ingredient;

  • (b) shall contain not less than

    • (i) 45 per cent of the named fruit, and

    • (ii) 66 per cent water soluble solids as estimated by the refractometer;

  • (c) may contain

     

    • (i) such amount of added pectin, pectinous preparation, or acid ingredient as reasonably compensates for any deficiency in the natural pectin content or acidity of the named fruit,

    • (ii) a Class II preservative,

    • (iii) a pH adjusting agent, and

    • (iv) an antifoaming agent;.... 

regulations are also written according to which category of fruit are processed

 

@75 brix, Minas' jam/jelly is higher than the minimum standard.

 

Luc H.

I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #15 of 17

Well, I thought I'd have to have my food extension service check my preserve formulas before I could sell them (if they were not of an approved recipe). Now, I think I can forgo that by buying a refractometer and adhering to USA regulations, as above. I thank you all. This thread has been helpful. I can't wait to put all my oddball combos to work!

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleD View Post

Well, I thought I'd have to have my food extension service check my preserve formulas before I could sell them (if they were not of an approved recipe). Now, I think I can forgo that by buying a refractometer and adhering to USA regulations, as above. I thank you all. This thread has been helpful. I can't wait to put all my oddball combos to work!

I am a cross my T's and dot my I's kinda business person.
So...to ensure the products I offer for sale are within legal perimeters I research and verify city, county, state and federal codes and laws.
To entrust my future as well as the health of the public to a random post on a public forum is IMO not only dangerous but kinda silly.

mimi
post #17 of 17

Quote:

Originally Posted by flipflopgirl View Post


I am a cross my T's and dot my I's kinda business person.
So...to ensure the products I offer for sale are within legal perimeters I research and verify city, county, state and federal codes and laws.
To entrust my future as well as the health of the public to a random post on a public forum is IMO not only dangerous but kinda silly.

mimi

Those are wise words.

When it comes to regulations, thorough research is imperative and getting advise from a forum is in fact silly.

Luc H.

I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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