Low-Sugar Mango Jam Recipe
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Every year around this time, I start craving all things tropical: Tropical fruits, piña coladas, Hawaiian-style barbecues, reggae music, an all-inclusive beach vacation in an exotic locale…
By late February/early March, I’ve pretty much had enough of winter and the thought of enjoying a tropical fruit platter and a cold adult beverage on a sunny beach in *insert tropical vacation destination here* seems to be just about all I can think of.
Since jetting off to Mexico isn’t usually in our budget, I have to find other more affordable ways to satisfy my desire to escape late winter and “trick” myself into thinking I’m laying poolside somewhere warm and sunny.
Bottling the flavours of a tropical vacation
Luckily, this is the time of year when many tropical fruits are in season in their respective locales, and that means that they’re generally much cheaper to buy from the grocery store.
Mangoes are one such tropical fruit that are in season this time of year, and while I love, love, LOVE fresh mangoes, this year I thought I would take advantage of the low prices and stock up on enough mangoes to preserve and enjoy all year long!
I ended up purchasing two flats of mangoes containing about 9 mangoes each for about $10 a flat (so $20 all in). We ate a few of them fresh, and I was left with 14 to preserve.
At first I considered slicing them up and preserving them in liquid, much the same way as I preserve peach slices in liquid. But unfortunately I got busy with life and let them sit for a wee bit too long and many of them started to go a bit soft.
So instead I decided to turn them into mango jam!
Related: How to Can Pineapple At Home
The problem with traditional jam recipes…
I turned to my canning bible (the Ball Complete Book of Home Food Preservation) and found. recipe for mango raspberry jam that I figured I could easily convert to a mango-only jam recipe. The only problem was that it called for 3 cups of mangoes and 5½ cups of sugar!!!
This insane amount of sugar is the biggest problem with most standard jam recipes, and while I love a good classic, sugary batch of strawberry jam as much as the next gal, I just can’t justify adding that much sugar to anything I make/eat/serve my family anymore.
Plus, mangoes are really sweet just as they are (especially the overripe ones), so I feared adding that much sugar would make the mango jam almost sickeningly sweet.
However, I know that many jam recipes call for a ton of sugar in order for them to gel correctly, and I definitely wanted to end up with a nice, thick jam in the end.
After a bit of back and forth between different recipes, I found a low-sugar option that called for Pomona’s pectin: a low-sugar alternative that uses a combination of pectin and calcium water which helps thicken jams and jellies without the addition of absurd amounts of sugar.
I’ve heard about Pomona’s pectin before, but had never actually tried in any of my own recipes, mostly because I just wanted to get really good at regular jam making and canning before I started playing around with low-sugar alternatives.
But now that I have a few years of canning and jam-making experience under my belt, and DOZENS of jars of sugary jam lining my pantry shelves, I decided there was no better time than now to take the leap and dive into the world of low-sugar jam making!
Related: Sugar-Free Applesauce Canning Recipe
Making jam with Pomona’s pectin
As it turns out, using Pomona’s wasn’t any more difficult than using regular pectin. Plus, it not only allowed me to use a fraction of the amount of sugar (I used 3 cups of sugar to 12 cups of diced mangoes), it also gave me a really nice, thick gel with no issue at all.
Each box comes with a package of pectin and a small pack of calcium powder, which you mix with a little water and add to your batch of jam to thicken it up.
Pomona’s pectin is also pure pectin, unlike other brands which are often mixed with dextrose. So this pectin is extra potent and needs to be mixed with the sugar before being added to the fruit mixture otherwise it will clump.
(I learned this the hard way since I had already added the sugar before reading that part of the directions. I was, however, able to use my hand blender to blend it up and break up any clumps, so crisis averted!)
Pomona’s has their own low-sugar mango jam recipe which calls for ½ cup of bottled lemon or lime juice per 4 cups of mangoes. I decided to use lime juice since it reminds me of the tropics and I thought the flavours would compliment each other well. I even upped the lime flavour by adding in the grated zest and juice of three fresh limes.
The addition of lime juice also helps the jam achieve a nice, thick gel due to the high pectin content in citrus fruit. Also, it ensures a safe final product since mangoes are actually a low-acid fruit, which means they require the addition of lemon or lime juice to ensure they can be canned safely. (See Botulism & Home Canning: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe.)
In the end this low-sugar mango jam turned out really nice and really showcased the flavours of the mangoes and limes without being overly sweet.
Ways to enjoy low-sugar mango jam
- On top of toast
- Spread on crackers and cheese
- Use as a condiment on a burger (for something a little different!)
- Mix it in with some yogurt
- Enjoy it straight out of the jar with a spoon!
I found my batch a bit thick to spoon over ice cream, although according to Pomona’s, you can add less of the pectin and calcium water for a softer spread if you prefer.
Low-sugar mango jam recipe
To make this low-sugar mango jam recipe, start by preparing your mangoes. Peel and dice them and measure out 12 cups.
*Although the original Pomona’s recipe called for just 4 cups of mashed fruit, I happened to have just enough mangoes on hand to get exactly 12 cups of peeled and diced mangoes. This gave me roughly 8 cups worth of mashed fruit in the end once I cooked it down. So I doubled the amount of pectin and calcium water. I ended up getting 8 half-pints (8oz jars) in the end, which was a good amount.
You could measure out roughly 6 cups of peeled, diced mangoes to yield 4 cups of mashed fruit instead, but then you will only get about 4 half-pints. This is fine if you only have enough to do a small batch, but I figure if you’re going to do the work anyway, you may as well do a larger batch and get more jars from one canning session.
After you’ve prepared your mangoes and measured out 12 cups, add them to a stainless steel pot along with 1½ cups of bottled lime juice plus the zest and juice from three fresh limes and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Boil for about 20-25 minutes, mashing the mangoes as you go. Alternatively, you can use a hand blender to blend up the jam into a smooth consistency.
Meanwhile, mix ½ teaspoon of the calcium powder with ½ cup of water in a Mason jar or other jar with a lid and shake well to combine.
Add the ½ cup of calcium water to the fruit mixture and stir well to combine.
Next, mix 6 teaspoons of the pectin with 3 cups of sugar. Bring the mango fruit to a full boil and then add the sugar/pectin mixture and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes until it’s completely dissolved.
Remove pot from heat. At this point your jam should be starting to gel quite nicely. If you’re not sure about the gel, you can do a gel test by sticking a spoon in a glass of ice water and then quickly drying it off and touching the bottom of the spoon to the jam. If the jam sticks to the spoon and/or slides off in sheets (rather than dripping off), then you’ve got a good gel and you’re ready to can it up!
Related: Pectin-Free Strawberry Jam Recipe
How to can mango jam
Use a knife to skim around the inside of the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Adjust headspace if necessary.
Wipe rims and place lids on top of jars. Screw down bands and then place in a hot water bath. Bring to a full rolling boil and process for 10 minutes. (Add an extra one minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level if you live at a high altitude).
Related: Water Bath Canning for Beginners
Then turn heat off, take lid off the canner and leave jars in canner for an extra 5 minutes.
Remove jars from canner and let cool completely on a tea towel on your countertop.
Store in your pantry out of direct sunlight and enjoy whenever you’re in the mood for a little tropical fruit (or when you’re dying for a beach vacation but your bank account says “just eat the jam, Karen.”)
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