5 Truths about Sugar in Jam

The debate around sugar has heated up and we are reminded by many customers and media about how sugar is the new killer in society.

At Barker’s we recognise that sugar has, and continues to play, a controversial role in our diet, however we also recognise that many New Zealander’s choose to continue enjoying sugar… and we believe everything in moderation is good.

Throughout the research and development phase for our new recipe fruit preserve range (launched this past August to replace our traditional jam recipe), we came to realise how important sugar is for delivering the expected texture or ‘mouth feel’ of a traditional jam.

Some have picked up on this change and since then, we have received much feedback from people who are both annoyed and often cynical about why we have changed away from their favourite jam recipe.

So what did we do? In simplistic terms we wanted to make the best quality jam possible, so in our new fruit preserve recipe we boldly reduced the amount of added sugar by 17% which enabled us to increase the fruit by an equivalent amount.

Our intention is to keep informing and sharing so you understand why we have made this significant change. The role of sugar in traditional jam is much more than adding sweetness, but it gets pretty technical so bear with us!

  1. Sugar provides the traditional sticky or tacky texture of a jam… that’s what we expect. With 17% less sugar, our new recipe has a smoother texture, which takes some adjusting to.
  2. In a traditional jam, when fruit is cooked in a high sugar syrup the fruit structure (chunk) will often be retained. When the exact same fruit is cooked with less sugar, the fleshy texture of whole fruit breaks down and becomes more pulpy (or a bit jelly-like as some have described it to us).
  3. The reason most food manufacturers use lots of sugar is to bring out the colour and flavour intensity and make the flavour last longer in the mouth. When adding more fruit and less sugar, our new recipe preserve has less of that sweet fruity intensity. On the other hand, many people say it tastes more like the real fruit and less like jam!
  4. Sugar is a natural preservative. It inhibits the growth of yeasts and moulds. Barker’s chooses not to add preservative to this new recipe fruit preserve, therefore with less sugar (ie. less preservative), it’s essential our new fruit preserve recipe is stored in the fridge.
  5. Sugar is much less expensive than fruit so our bold decision to add more fruit and less sugar was not a cost saving measure! We use the same quality and grade of fruit (and NZ fruit where possible).
So, our new fruit preserves have stirred up some heated debate and discussion, but it also encourages us to stop and think about the role sugar plays in our food, over and above sweetness.

Many customers love our journey into the future of jam. Our new recipe, more fruit, less sugar preserves follows international trends. We accept the end result is different and will take you some time to get used to. But we believe our new recipe is a step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Sugar in Jam