Potassium sorbate is a very widely used preservative of many foods, including but not limited to: dairy, baked goods, beverages, cured meats, herbal supplements, soft food products (jam), and especially wines. Potassium sorbate is used in extremely small quantities. Often times, it is used in trace amounts too tiny to require being listed in ingredients. For example, in my sugar-free products I use .1% to prevent spoilage. This is necessary in a jam with no sugar, which is a preservative itsself in jams. This preservative, also known as a polyunsaturated fatty acid salt, retards the growth of mold, yeast, and fungi. Potassium sorbate is naturally occuring in the fruits of the European Montain Ash and in commercial use is considered an organic compound. It has the lowest allergenic potential of all food preservatives and is considered completely safe even if used in large amounts. It is completely soluble in water and has no odor, flavor, color, or anything that will change the delectableness of my jams.
Huckleberries are by far the most sought after wild berry occuring in the Rocky Mountain Region. I can buy or pick enough to last me year round, eating them in a plethora of recipes, all the while hoping next year there will be a bumper crop for huckleberry security. Even I value every one of these small delicious berries. It takes many hours of labor to harvest the huckleberry from it’s wild mountainside locations, due to one-berry-per-stem, watching for berry bears, and eating every other berry collected. One must factor in human competition as well, the rule is “Each to his own huckleberry patch”. Some people make a living picking their hidden berry patches year after year and if feeling encroached on by competitors can become………well, more fearsome than a berry bear!! People that have not tasted a huckleberry may wonder what? why? whatever! and write us all off as delirious high-altituders. We huckleberry aficionados know that the decadent, sweet flavor resembles a combination of the best wild blueberries and ripe blackberries without the seeds. Plus there’s the absolutely heady near-palpable aroma of hucks that lingers in the air some swear you can taste long after the huckleberries have been eaten. Now that is an eating experience folks!
Stevia rebaudiana is is a low growing herbacious shrub native to subtropical regions of South America that has been used for centuries as a sweetener in food and teas. Known for it’s intense natural sweetness, stevia in raw form, such as a crushed leaf, has 30-45 times the natural sweetness of sucrose (table sugar) and when processed into common granular forms such as Truvia, may be 100 times as sweet as sugar.
Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. were unaware of stevia’s qualities as a sweetener because the FDA banned the use of stevia in the early 1990’s unless it was listed as a dietary supplement, until 2008. Of course Japan has been cultivating stevia for commercial use in food since 1970 so they could avoid carcinogenous sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin. I know what a great thing stevia is, and I am here to help educate people on the all-natural sweetener I use in my sugar-free jams.
First to dispell a myth. Word out there is that stevia is bitter or acrid and we all know when a new product gets bad press word spreads fast. Seems like a lot of folks experimented with sweetening thier morning coffee or tea with stevia and the result was a super-sweet, acrid taste, a.m., pre-caffeine. Instant mood de-hancer! We are all used to using measurements that fit sugar and chemical sugar substitutes that do not pertain to the super-sweet stevia. Because stevia is so sweet you only need a tiny amount in your food. Some people never got to that point of understanding stevia after thier bad a.m. experiences.
As a sweetener and a sugar substitute, stevia has a negligable effect on blood glucose, no calories, and so is extremely attractive to people on carbohydrate controlled diets, such as diabetics. Of course other sweeteners are available such as Splenda which are chemically manufactured and can cause digestive disorders and mild to severe allergic reactions in some people. These sweeteners may not be as economical as stevia, which is very reasonably priced.
Stevia is sold in several forms and readily available in common grocery stores. We have already talked about the powdered form which is sold under the brand name Truvia, Sweetleaf, PureVia, and ect. Also available is dehydrated organic, chopped green stevia leaf from many health food purveyors. Another organic form is liquid stevia that comes in tiny vials in a wide array of flavors. One drop of sweetner is all it takes for a cup of tea or coffee!
Stevia truly posesses a wonderful natural sweetness. I experimented for months with sweeteners before I had my stevia epiphany and tried that in my line of sugar-free jams. The best way to describe the flavor of my stevia jams is that the natural sweetness of the fruit is enhanced by a delicious, slightly sweet-carmely flavor while letting the full fruit flavor burst through. Enjoy!