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This easy freezer jam uses a fraction of the sugar in a typical recipe. This allows the sweet-tart flavor of fresh summer apricots to shine through.

Oh, the delights of summer! Sweet, flavorful fruit that’s so juicy that you have to eat over the sink! Or at least a very absorbent napkin.

Last week a friend drove eight-plus hours round-trip over the Cascade Mountains to Eastern Washington to pick tree-ripened apricots. He picked 176 pounds in 1½ hours.

They are the biggest apricots I’ve ever seen. It only takes four to make a pound.

Plus, they are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. And the juiciest.

fresh apricots

By yesterday, even though we’d been eating a lot of apricots, I still had about 20 pounds of very ripe apricots that needed to be preserved. I dehydrated some. I tried making apricot chia jam. It turned out unattractive. Not recommended.

My husband requested an apricot crumble. I discovered that apricots are not the ideal fruit for that–too juicy and mushy when cooked. But it still tastes good. In order to avoid a soupy dessert, I ended up stirring the topping into the apricots to thicken them and added more topping. Note to self: thicken the apricots before adding the topping.

Then I made three batches of apricot freezer jam. It’s rewarding to have 10 small containers stashed in the freezer to use this winter.

How to Make Low-Sugar Apricot Jam

Apricots are one of the easiest fruits to preserve–no peeling, coring, or blanching. Just split open and remove the pit.

pitted apricots

These apricots were so soft, they were easy to mash. It took three pounds of apricots to make 4 cups of mashed.

The next step is to simmer the apricots in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the volume is reduced by about one one-fourth, about 30-40 minutes.

mashed apricots

How to Thicken Low-Sugar Jam

Tree-ripened fruit means less sugar is needed. Jam needs to be thick. Traditionally, jam recipes depend on a precise ratio between pectin and sugar in order to thicken the fruit.

Most apricot jam recipes call for three or more cups of sugar for four cups of mashed fruit! Some recipes even call for more sugar than fruit!

I believe that sugar is best used as a flavor enhancer–not a food! I want to taste the fruit, not sickeningly sweet refined sugar.

For thickening low-sugar jam, there are three options.

  1. Cook the apricots until thick, which could take a couple of hours.
  2. Use pectin that does not require sugar to set, such as Pomona’s Universal Pectin.
  3. Use instant modified food starch. It’s precooked non-GMO cornstarch that’s ready to thicken instantly. The two brands available are Cornaby’s E-Z Gel or Instant Clear Jel.

I chose instant cornstarch because I’ve used it for years to make strawberry freezer jam, a recipe in my cookbook, Fix-it-Fast Vegetarian Cookbook, published in 2002 and now out of print. I figured it would work for apricots and it did.

I like having instant cornstarch in the cupboard for those times when I need to thicken a sauce or salad dressing without needing to cook it. And for making freezer jam.

I also tried using Pomona’s Universal Pectin in the apricot jam but liked the texture better with the Cornaby’s E-Z Gel.

With instant cornstarch, it’s important to stir it with the sugar before adding to the fruit in order to prevent clumping.

The sugar disperses the starch granules and keeps them from clumping. in some recipes, such as dressings, a blender will do the job of eliminating the lumps.

precooked cornstarch powder

After stirring the sugar-instant cornstarch mixture into the apricots, let it stand 10 minutes. Check the consistency and sweetness and adjust if needed. If it needs to be thicker, stir another one to two tablespoons of modified food starch with an equal amount of sugar before adding to the apricots.

When you are satisfied with the consistency and sweetness, let it cool.

Transfer the jam to small freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Label and date the containers. Refrigerate until cold, then transfer to the freezer for up to 1 year.

Because of the low sugar content, it will only keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

low sugar apricot jam

Note: This recipe is intended for using fresh or for freezing. In order to preserve the jam by canning, it would need to have lemon juice and more sugar added to it.

apricot jam
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Low-Sugar Apricot Jam

This easy freezer jam uses a fraction of the sugar in a typical recipe. This allows the sweet-tart flavor of fresh summer apricots to shine through.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Cooling Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, Spread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: condiment, sauce, dairy-free, gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 48
Calories: 15kcal
Author: Heather Reseck

Ingredients

  • 4 cups pitted and mashed fresh apricots
  • 6-8 tablespoons granulated organic sugar
  • 4-6 tablespoons instant cornstarch

Instructions

  • Simmer apricots in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about one-fourth, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir 6 tablespoons sugar and 4 tablespoons instant cornstarch together in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed. Stir into the apricots. Let stand 10 minutes. Check consistency and sweetness and adjust if needed.
  • If it needs to be thicker, mix 1-2 tablespoons instant cornstarch with an equal amount of sugar. Then stir into the apricots.
  • Let cool 15 minutes; transfer to small freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Label and date. Refrigerate until cold. Transfer to the freezer. Refrigerate up to two weeks. Freeze up to 1 year. Makes about 3 cups.

Notes

Tips:
• You will need about 3 pounds of apricots.
• Instant cornstarch: Look for Cornaby’s E-Z Gel or Instant Clear Jel. Stir with the sugar before adding to the fruit in order to prevent clumping.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 249IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg