Is there a good substitute for sugar?

eahamel(9a)January 14, 2012

I'm making orange marmalade with Seville oranges, which are very sour, and the recipe calls for 11 cups of sugar! Is there an acceptable sweetener (not aspartame or other artificial sweetener) that I could substitute for some of that? I'm not diabetic, but try to avoid eating a lot of sugar.

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readinglady(z8 OR)

My solution is to limit my consumption. If you think about it, for most people (except my spouse!) marmalade is eaten in small amounts and in conjunction with other foods, so the total sugar "burden" is small.

Keep in mind that substitutes and alterations all come with a cost, so only you can determine which compromises are acceptable to you.

In many of these traditional preserves the sugar can be reduced by as much as 1/3. It would help to see the proportions to know just what the sugar amount is in relation to the fruit. If sugar is reduced, at some point it will affect the setting properties, but if you don't mind a looser set, this is one option.

Americans tend to like their preserves extra-sweet, so a British marmalade formula is likely to have less sugar in the first place.

You could use a proportion of honey, which is sweeter and denser, thus requiring less, but again, overdoing it will interfere with the set. Also, it would have to be a light honey to avoid interfering with the flavor of the marmalade.

Agave is also an option, though I have not tried it in a preserve.

Other options have to do with the fruit. Blending Seville oranges with other types that are less bitter/sour will reduce the need for excessive sweetener.

Supreming the fruit (i.e. segments without membrane) reduces bitterness as does using zest shredded very fine and pith-free as opposed to the traditional slices. A lot of times it's the bitter as much as the sour which leads one to choose lots of sugar.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 4:02PM
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david52 Zone 6

If been using Pomona Pectin which doesn't require any specific amount of sugar, so I can use a lot less - usually, just enough to take the bitter 'edge' off the taste. Its surprising how popular a 'sour' jelly/jam/marmalade turns out to be.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 11:41AM
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I just made three different kinds, orange, grapefruit, and tangerine and did both....
removed the pith, and supremed it...and used Pomona

Using Pomona, you can make it taste the way you want first, and much or little sugar, and still end up with jam.

All of mine ended up excellent.......and very low sugar


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:17PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It's entirely a matter of personal preference. With reduced sugar the "mouthfeel" of the preserve will change. Using Pomona is an option and certainly worth trying. In addition to a difference in mouthfeel there will be a slightly cloudier color. Some taste a certain chalkiness, though that would be far less noticeable in a tangy preserve.

Taste is so individual and those who are extremely sensitive to these factors may or may not find Pomona an acceptable alternative.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Carol, I would bet that the cloudy color comes from too much calcium. Saturated calcium solution would not only make it cloudy, but also give it a chalky taste.....when it falls out of solution/precipitates.
Our water comes out very hard, high in calcium... solution is to use distilled water, or don't add the calcium powder that comes with the Pomona.

All of my marmalades came out clear as a bell and no one mentioned a chalky taste...

Just a thought

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 1:04PM
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The recipe calls for 2-1/2 lbs of seville oranges and 2 mandarins. The recipe is in the 2006 Ball preserving book, page 97. I like to have a slice of bread or toast occasionally with some sort of jam on it, not an everyday thing, and I like to limit the sugar load, too.

I like some of your suggestions - especially using fewer of the sour oranges, less peel, and more of the mandarins! That way I could reduce the amount of sugar, and some pectin to keep the texture the same.

I was thinking about a substitute sweetener, such as sucralose or "z Sweet" (very expensive option), or a little xylitol, to replace some of the sugar, but if using fewer of the sour oranges and more sweet will work, that's what I'll do.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 1:37PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Definitely I would try that first. At some point the reduction in sugar will affect set, but you can cut quite a bit before that happens.

One of the issues with sugar subs is they can leave an aftertaste in the preserve which becomes more pronounced over time. However, again it depends upon the recipe and the amounts. Linda_Lou has far more expertise on using those substitutions so perhaps if she's around she'll offer some insight.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 10:10PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

"My solution is to limit my consumption" I so agree with you Readinglady! Years ago I stopped bothering with low sugar, low fat etc. because it always seemed to equate with low flavour and a feeling of 'I wonder what they put in to cover the lack of whatever'. So I eat real butter, real cream, real cheese, real sugar and real chocolate but just don't eat much. Marmalade and other preserves are treats not staples and so I like to eat the best quality I can made from the plainest ingredients. Also I like them to taste of the fruit they are made of, not sugar. (I do eat as little salt as possible. Our palates are trained by commercial manufacturers to crave it but you soon get used to not having much and things like potato crisps (chips) and snacks begin to taste horrible.)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Did you know that there are companies that make flavorings that go into most packaged foods? They can imitate something so perfectly that you'd never know that it isn't made with the flavor it tastes like! The junk food and fast food trades use them extensively. Those potato crisps may have a minimal amount of potato in them, and are probably flavored artificially. That's disgusting!!!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 11:34AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

What about Sucralose? It is supposed to be made from sugar, without the calories.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 2:19PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I think it was Jamie Oliver (perhaps in one of his school nutrition shows) who set a potato chip (crisp) on fire to demonstrate just how oily they are.

If I hadn't been unenthused before that point, I certainly was after.

For myself it seems small amounts of "real" foods can be very satisfying. A little heavy cream in a dish goes a long way. I just try to balance them out with lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

We have access to very cheap food in this country. However, a lot of it isn't very nutritious or very good.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 3:47AM
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