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How to Can without Added Sugar

Canning is a big part of my homespun seasonal lifestyle. Eating healthy is also a big part of my lifestyle. Canning and healthy eating habits can go together. While some sugar is tasty and can be a part of a well-balanced diet, it doesn’t have to be added to every jar in the pantry. Not only is it possible to can without added sugar, it’s downright easy and tasty, too. 

Can without added sugar to keep the summer's food preservation work healthy and tasty for the winter months with these simple and safe tips.

While sugar is a preservative when canning it isn’t necessary. The canning process does the preservation not the sugar, so it’s totally safe to skip added sugar. 

No-Sugar Fruit Spreads

Every canner knows sugar helps jams and jellies gel. This is a scientific fact. However, turning fruit or fruit juices into gelled, delicious fruit spreads can be done with Pomona’s Pectin. When using Pomona’s Pectin follow their instructions for canning times as the lack of sugar can affect the time jams and jellies need to be in the canner.

Can without added sugar to keep the summer's food preservation work healthy and tasty for the winter months with these simple and safe tips.

Forget worries about gel point and make fruit butters instead. Fruit butters are made from pureed fruit that is cooked slowly until thick. These are great ways to simply let the fruit flavors and natural sugars shine. For safety sake, rather than canning no-sugar fruit butters for 10 minutes (like most sugar loaded recipes suggest), can them for the length of time recommended for the particular fruit. 

Can Fruit in Juice

Don’t add sugar syrup to those jars sweet cherries, quartered peaches, or chopped pears. Instead, fill the jars with fruit juice as the liquid. Unsweetened apple juice works great for most fruits and is often a very frugal choice. It’s not necessary to match the juice though it can be done. Follow the canning times recommended for canning the particular fruit as usual. 

Can Fruit in Water

Skip the sugar syrup or fruit juice and use plain water as the canning liquid. This method can sometimes make softer fruit in my experience but it is completely doable. Follow the canning times recommended for canning the particular fruit as usual. 

If you choose to do this method, you will not likely win a blue ribbon at the fair – if that’s important to you.

Skip Sugar in Savory Recipes

I’ve never understood why pizza sauce needs to have 3 cups of sugar to 8 cups of tomato sauce. While a touch of honey can sometimes mellow out tart tomatoes, it isn’t necessary. There’s no reason to add sugar to your soups or stews unless it’s a personal preference. Even if the tested and approved recipe has sugar, skip it but can for the appropriate time and/or pressure.

Unsweetened Fruit Sauces

Again, the sugar doesn’t do the preservation work, the canning does so skip added sugar in homemade fruit sauces, like applesauce. No added sugar to the applesauce makes for a healthy snack and something that can also easily be added to many baked goods as a replacement for oil.

As the canning season kicks into high gear remember to fill that pantry with foods you’ll enjoy eating and keep it healthy too. Can without added sugar and have homemade foods that you can feel good about serving and eating in the months to come. 

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Monday 8th of August 2022

I have very successful used this product and will use it for all my jam I make. You don’t miss the sugar at all, the honey gives it enough. Win Win!


Thursday 4th of February 2021

Sugar-free jams n sauces need preservatives right?and Green food grade preservatives options would very?

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 4th of February 2021

The canning process is the preservation - there's no need to do anything else.


Sunday 4th of November 2018

Sweet little gal up in Canada turned me on to "Steam juicing" with a special 3-chamber steam juicing pot. It makes absolutely wonderful concentrated juice like I had never before experienced in my life and even the stuff you purchase in the store is still watered down, but let me tell you the first thing I noticed was how sweet it was and how little sugar I had to use to make it lip-smacking-delicious. My husband is Type 1 insulin dependent and I have to really watch-out not to use anymore sugar than is absolutely necessary. What I think is happening is the steam process does not agitate the skins like in other processes, thus releasing extra bitter & tartness. Plants actually do this to keep birds & animals from eating them. I spent about $70 on my steam unit, but it paid for itself immediately in the quality. If I had known how awesime this "cool tool" was I would have gotten one years ago!


Tuesday 15th of August 2017

Wanting to make "Hot pepper Jam" but I don't want to use all the sugar they call for. Can you help? Thanks.❤️

Homespun Seasonal Living

Tuesday 15th of August 2017

I would need to see the specific recipe you're trying to use. BUT here's the thing with hot pepper jams and jellies... hot peppers are a low acid food which normally require pressure canning, adding the sugar in large amounts raises the acidity level to make it safe for water bath canning. I'd be careful about changing up that recipe too much for safety sake.


Monday 14th of August 2017

Without the sugar, does the bottled fruit stay good as long as with sugar? I was taught with the sugar the fruit is good up to a year.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 14th of August 2017

It's still good for a year. It's the canning process that does the preservation, not the sugar.