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Making Low Sugar Jams & Spreads with Agar

 Rhubarb, Orange and Walnut Jam, perfect with croissants!

low sugar fruit jams

This rhubarb jam is a low sugar fruit jam, but provides the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. The crunchiness of the nuts and  golden colour of the peels & ginger give it great texture.  Unlike pectin, Agar doesn’t need sugar to form a gel. It should not cook for long because the acids in the rhubarb will break downthe Agar, a natural red seaweed extract. Agar is flavourless and becomes gelatinous when it’s dissolved in liquid, heated, and then cooled. It doesn’t require sugar to set and gels more firmly than gelatine just at room temperature.

Rhubarb, Orange and Ginger Marmelade

Ingredients for the jam

(Makes 4 x 150ml jars)


450g of fresh rhubarb cut into 3cm pieces
300ml orange juice (without pulp)
300g caster sugar
2g Pacific Harvest Agar powder (1 flat tbsp)
50g store-bought glace citrus peels (or the finely grated zest of one orange)
3cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
30g chopped macadamia nuts


Swell & dissolve the Agar

First, mix the juice and the sugar in a pot and sprinkle with the Agar . Stir to combine with a whisk and let stand for 10 minutes for the Agar to re-hydrate. This is a very important step, because it activates the agar’s gelling capabilities.

Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook gently until the sugar and the Agar have dissolved.

Add the ginger and zest

Add the grated ginger and citrus peel/zest.

Continue to cook for 25 minutes to increase the syrup density.

Roasting the nuts for extra flavour

While the syrup is simmering, chop the macadamia nuts and slowly roast them in a pan. Careful ! Macadamia nuts burn easily…but roasting them to a nice golden brown releases their flavour.

Simmer the rhubarb

Add the cut rhubarb and the nuts to the syrup and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, just long enough for the rhubarb to soften.

Ladle into hot canning jars, seal and cool down. You may have to turn the jars a few times during the cooling process so the ingredients disperse evenly. The marmalade will set at room temperature.

Top Tips:

For low sugar fruit jams/marmalade, Agar is a positive alternative to pectin because it doesn’t require sugar to gel. So you could make a jam/marmalade totally without sugar if you wanted, but a little sugar helps the caramelisation of fruits, which adds both to the flavour & texture. So choose a healthy sugar like coconut sugar. Do not worry if you find that you need to adjust your recipe when you make it for the first time. You can put everything back in the pot and adjust the quantities. Read about the other ways Agar can be used, for example as an egg replacement , in raw foods or to convert from gelatine.

Agar provides much more than texture: it is considered to be a functional food in term of its beneficial contribution to balanced nutrition. It has virtually no calories and is fat-free, is very high in fibre (75-80%) and has a beneficial effect on digestion & gut health. It contains minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin Bs, while being very low sodium. It has a good satiating ability (as agar’s indigestible fibre absorbs and retains water resulting in a feeling of fullness) and a purifying action on the body, making it great for weight reduction. Agar also has a mild laxative effect. Read more about Agar’s benefits.

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