As I understand it, Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that is purported to be lower than sugar in both calories (by about 40%) and carbohydrates (by about 75%), causes no insulin reaction, and prevents tooth decay. It also doesn't appear to have the same nasty issues associated with aspartame at this time.
I've only used it a bit in iced tea and coffee.
Anyway, after taking a small bag of fresh apricots for our chiropractor to sample today, we began chatting about the potential for canning with Xylitol since it can be successfully used in baking. By the time we left, she sponsored a pound of Xylitol for our use in canning the next batch of apricots so we could all see how well it worked and do a lil control study of sorts to see how well the pressure-canned apricots perform over time. :)
Has anyone canned with Xylitol? Have you any links to recommend?
All comments will be most appreciated! We're gonna try the first batch tomorrow.
Tutti... if you want to make some truly sugar-free apricot Jam, try Pomona's Universal Pectin. Contains NO sugars of any kind, and one box will make 3-4 runs of jam, unlike Sure-Jel. It works by using added calcium water (packet included in box). Also works with low sugar or honey so it's good for diabetics.
I get mine at a health food store but it's available online.
Thanks for the tip, Darius! We don't go through jams or jellies very quickly in this household (two or three pint jars in the last year), but we do love fresh and canned fruit. For that, I feel quite fortunate. And I have to admit I've started following you around a bit in the recipe forum, too. ;) I love simple and/or eclectic recipes that show off the true texture of the veggies while enhancing their flavor, and not disguising it.
I'm still interested in seeing whether anyone else uses Xylitol, as I've only seen good press associated with it. :)
Tutti... Thanks for the nice words. I have this strange belief that FOOD ought to taste like what it IS; that is carrots should taste like carrots. Unfortunately, all store-bought carrots fail miserably, while organic carrots actually taste like carrots.
I wonder how many of our children will grow up never knowing the REAL taste of a tomato, or a carrot... and the list could go on.
I probably don't consume more than 2-3 half-pint jars of jams and jellies per year myself. I'm making a LOT of totally sugar-free fruits this year so that may increase.
I'm now simmering my first batch of apricots with Xylitol for canning shortly. :)
I've read that canning with sugar substitutes and/or without sugar could cause the fruit to become brown when once again exposed to air... is that an issue if I soaked the fruit in an ascorbic acid solution (like Fruit Pectin)?
Another question. I've seen varying recommendations on the mixture of water and ascorbic acid for prepping the cut fruit before canning. The Fruit Fresh cannister suggests more than my canning booklet, but I've gone with the Fruit Fresh amounts 'cause I figured a lil extra Vitamin C wouldn't hurt. Does it make a difference on the browning; as in, could I use less?
(editted to add a third question)
I also read that certain sugar substitutes can leave the fruit with a bitter taste after canning. I could believe that about saccharin, as it is bitter when too much is used (not that I use it any more... ick), but what about other substitutes?
We sampled a jar of the apricots with Xylitol... hmm... the apricots were fine, but I wonder whether I didn't use enough for sweetening. I had a recommendation on using half the Xylitol for the same dry measure of granulated sugar, and since I used a thin syrup on my previously canned apricots, that's what I did. I later read that one could use it equally in measure for powdered sugar, which introduces a whole different equation that I need to look up!
For hot drinks, I've found it perfect when using the same amount of Xylitol as for granulated sugar.
Is there anyone out there who can advise me on the next step? Or anyone at all who has used Xylitol in baking if not canning?
Just joined the forum. Xylitol is the only sugar substitute I have ever found that did not have a bitter aftertaste, or give me a "digestive problem". I have been making jam with xylitol for about three months now, and have never used anything but Sure-Jell (regular Sure-Jell, not the low-sugar kind) or Ball Brand pectin. It sometimes takes a little longer to set up, but it REALLY sets up. I have also used nothing but xylitol for sweetening anything for about a year. The jam experiment was a huge success, because, as my husband pointed out, xylitol has no taste of its own (unlike sugar) so all you taste is the fruit. I have gotten rave reviews on the jams so far. The only problem I have found is that if you use the same amount of xylitol as the recipe calls for sugar, it tends to crystallize in the fridge faster than sugar-based jams. It also gets a little harder than I believe jam should. For that reason, I am about to try, this weekend to reduce the sugar by one cup (making blueberry jam). NOTE: It is important, when using xylitol to use the water bath processing, rather than the "inversion" method for jams and jellies. Take that extra 10 or so minutes and process the filled jars. If I can help anyone, I would be happy to. It is such a joy to be able to indulge in raspberry-peach jam and not get headaches or shakiness.
There are two things xylitol will not do - it will not carmelize, and it will not feed yeast. Apparently those little guys need the six-carbon sugars, so if you're making yeast breads, you will need to use a small amount of sugar or honey or molasses for the yeast. There's a great cookbook, called "Sweeten Your Life the Xylitol Way" that has some killer desserts.