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No-sugar-added berry jam is a real treat

By Melissa díArabian, Associated Press
This Jan. 19, 2018 photo shows a no-added-sugar berry jam in Bethesda, Md. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (Melissa d'Arabian via AP)

My grandmother used to make jam every year out of the summer bounty of berries. It was a multiday project involving scorching-hot vats of berries, thickened by pectin and pounds of white sugar, which she balanced with the tang of lemon or lime juice. A simple slab of toasted country bread slathered with her homemade jam and some salted butter was my favorite way to start the day.

Now, in a world that favors high-protein egg whites for breakfast, or if there is a piece of toast to be had, itís covered in smashed avocado and tomato slices instead of rich red jam, I wondered if it was even worth the hassle to create a healthier version of my grandmaís recipe. Turns out, it was.

The resulting recipe is so easy that a hefty jar of jam can be whipped up in minutes, keeping my fridge stocked for weeks. As a mom of four daughters, I jump on any opportunity to remove processed sugar from our treats, and this jam stayed delectably sweet and comforting in the process.

We use this jam to top toast like Grandma did, but we also use it instead of syrup on almond flour waffles, or to sweeten plain Greek yogurt for snacks, breakfast or dessert.

The challenge in removing the traditional white sugar is achieving the texture that makes jam, well, jammy. The secret is in using blueberries and apples, which both contain natural pectin, and boiling at very high heat, stirring constantly for the few minutes it takes to get the jam to thicken.

To mimic some of the sweetness of sugar, I add a few finely chopped dates, but you could skip them if you donít mind a little less sweetness. With the sugar and canning process gone, the jam must be eaten within a few weeks and kept in the fridge, but given how tasty it is and how easy it is to make a new batch ó I even use readily available frozen mixed berries ó this doesnít seem to be a problem.