Unlike most commercial pectins, Pomona's Universal Pectin enables you to make jams and jellies with little or no sugar. The results are tasty, and certainly healthier than traditional recipes, but there are a couple of minor drawbacks to using Pomona's in low sugar recipes.
Pomona's Universal Pectin
Pomona's Universal Pectin consists of two ingredients that work together to gel jams and jellies with or without added sugar.
The main ingredient is a low-methoxyl pectin powder made from citrus peels. The pectin powder (different from most other commercial powdered pectins) works in conjunction with calcium powder to thicken the preserves.
Traditional jam and jelly recipes depend on a combination of pectin, sugar and an acid such as lemon juice to gel the fruit juices. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance that is found in many fruits. But there are high and low pectin fruits, and it is hard to get preserves to thicken if you are using one of the latter and don't add pectin.
Here are the pros and cons of making preserves with Pomona's Universal Pectin:
Obviously the ability to make jams, jellies and other preserves without adding sugar is a huge plus, and arguably the most important reason to consider using Pomona's.
Using Alternative Sweeteners: Honey, Artificial Sweeteners, etc.
If you prefer to use honey rather than sugar, or low-cal artificial sweeteners, conventional recipes won't work.
These sweeteners simply do not interact with pectin in the same way that sugar does to thicken them. But you can successfully use sweeteners other than sugar with a low methoxyl pectin/calcium combination such as Pomona's.
Short Cooking Time
Pomona's Universal Pectin requires a relatively short cooking time, and that means brighter fruit flavor and color in the final product compared to conventional recipes.
Indefinite Shelf Life
The low methoxyl citrus pectin and the calcium powder that together comprise Pomona's Universal Pectin can be stored at room temperature indefinitely, so long as they remain dry.
Although jams, jellies and preserves made with Pomona's Universal Pectin do thicken up nicely and retain bright colors and some translucency, the texture is not identical to preserves made with more sugar and traditional pectins.
If you like a really solid set to your jams and jellies, you will probably be delighted with the results you get from Pomona's. If, like me, you prefer a slightly more fluid consistency, you will be disappointed. The texture of preserves made with the suggested amount low methoxyl pectin such as Pomona's brand is closer to jello than jelly.
You may be able to use less of the pectin than in the recipes that come with the product to achieve a softer set.
As jams made with Pomona's pectin cool in the jars, the fruit pulp tends to separate from the juice before the preserve has gelled. This doesn't affect flavor or safety, but it doesn't look as good in the jars.
Shorter Shelf Life After Opening
Low sugar recipes made with Pomona's last just as long as high sugar ones while they are in vacuum sealed jars (sealed in a boiling water bath).
Once the jars are opened, they do not keep in the refrigerator as long as conventional jams and jellies. Expect to see some mold starting to form after 3 - 4 weeks.