Prairie Views

~ Dreamy abstraction in Four Square House on the Pairie

Month: September 2015

How Pectins Work For Making Jams and Jellies


Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam using Sure Jell (Pectin for low or no sugar jams and jellies)


I try to keep my diet within 21 grams of sugar per day.  To put that in perspective, a can of soda alone can have as many as 40 grams. That is twice as much as my goal. This low sugar amount is really hard for most people to do since we are used to having closer to 70 grams per day and I subsect many people ingest much more with drinks. .

Traditional jam is around 60% sugar. That make a sticky situation for those of use reducing our sugar content. You can’t use any type of pectin to make a low sugar jam and just reduce the sugar content. It does not work that way.

The best way is to change you life style and limit the usage of jam and jellies and become accustomed to the texture of no or very low sugar jams. The taste will be different since you will have a lot less sugar and it will not be as sweet but after just using these type of jellies and jams the traditional types will soon seem too sweet.


How Traditional Pectin Works:

To get the right jel consistency you must have:

Pectin: Pectin is a natural carbohydrate found in all fruit and it is most responsible for getting the gel in jams/jellies. You will find some fruits such as apples have a lot of pectin. There are others that have very little natural pectin.

Acid: Almost all fruit is high acid which is why they can be boiling bath canned. In some recipes with fruit with lower acid amounts  lemon juice is added.

Sugar: You will need a LOT of sugar with traditional pectin to get the correct radio. Do not try to reduce the sugar in a traditional recipe with traditional pectin.


How Low Sugar  Pectin Works:

These pectin products have been specially designed to make jams and jellies with less sugar.  They are labeled for making low or no sugar jelly and jams. Follow the manufacturer’s directions that come with the product. I used the Sure Jell premium Fruit Pectin to make a lower sugar Strawberry Jam. I had some problems with the fruit floating but I am hoping when opened we will be able to mix the contents.






How No Sugar Pectin Works:

These are Low Methoxyl Pectin Jams and Jellies (LMP). These pectins do not bind to the sugar but to calcium instead.  If you have a lot of calcium in your water it might become too firm.  You can try adding more juice to the mix or use filtered water lower in calcium. I am still working on using this type of pectin since I have high calicum water and it produced a jelly too thick the first time I tried. Pomona is the most well know product but there are others available.

Bees Washboarding

This morning while checking on my bees I noticed a behavior I had not noticed before in  hives before. It is a well know behavior that I had read about before. Wash boarding is a rhythmic movement. The bees in front of the hive, usually above the entrance, step forward and backward, swinging their front legs in what looks like a sweeping movement.  Could it be a harvest dance? Could it be a cleaning action? The reason for the behaviour is still unexplained but you still have to wonder why they are using so much energy on what seems a futile behavior. I did not take a picture but added a link so you could see the wonderful behavior.



Washboarding Bees

A House Wears Its Age On Its Face



Everything wears out! If a house  has clap boards its paint will peel and you will get creases and bowing. In some places you can get rotting . The elements take a toll on the external finishes. Siding is designed to shed water and protect the home from wind. A previous owner had this  siding put on becasue the old wood clapboard did not want to hold the paint. After its life cycle of 20 to thirty years it need to be replaced in most places.

This is where we are at. The original clapboard siding is close to one hundred years old. This siding might seem quaint to the passerbyers but  inhabitants know it is a constant struggle to keep the homer warm during the winter. Insulation is not as important as tight walls. Many people think we should just redo the original siding. Alas, they do not have to sit in a drafty home and pay the ever climbing utility bills. Some estimated that the total heat loss of an old home can be the same as leaving the front door open. Yikes! It makes you want to put the home on the market or demolish and rebuild a modern home. The siding on the additons is cement board. It looks nice but it expensive.





We decideded to redo the siding  type that was added in the 60’s or 70’s.  We will have to remove many of the planks that in very bad conditionand leave the ones in good shape to be sealed with primer and repainted. They still have this type of siding, although it is made better, and it is still very popular here.  It is also esier to work with that other types of siding forDIYers. You do not see it advertised as companies want you to go for more expensive options. Here high winds can very easy damage vinyl siding. I see the results of this after every storm that passes by. I do like the look of the narrower siding but we just do not have the finances to redo the home in new siding with this look.

In order to make progress on the siding and painting I will be cutting back on my garden this fall and maybe spring. I hope you stop by to see our progress and other small projects I will be doing such as wheat crafts, sewing, cooking and animals care.

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