The following originally appeared on 9/8/08 at Exit 51.
I’ve spent the last god knows how many weeks avoiding sugar. Frankly, I don’t use sugar a lot. That is to say that I don’t go adding sugar to things. But in the course of any given day, sugar would sneak its way into a little bit of everything. My morning cereal? It’s there. OJ? There too. And my beloved can of Coke? Of course. But a world completely sans sugar is a pretty lofty goal. One that I am just not ready to adopt. So I find myself straddling two worlds – Sugar and Splenda.
I understand the basic premise of eliminating as much refined sugar as possible from my diet. Really, I do. And to a certain degree, I can adapt to using Splenda. But the two really aren’t interchangable. Sugar tastes like, well, sugar. It’s sweet and clean. Splenda, despite it’s claims of tasting like sugar because it’s made from sugar, can’t fool me. First off, it looks different. It’s a light and powdery. Not like confectioner’s sugar. Like fake snow. Then there’s the taste. It’s sweet, but it leaves a lingering aftertaste. And it’s everywhere. My Diet Coke, my Jello, even my Smuckers are all artificially sweetened. Today, my taste buds finally said enough.
The uprising came while I was making peach jam. I know what peaches taste like. And I know what sugar tastes like. So I’ve got a pretty reasonable expectation of what peaches with sugar should be. But peaches with Splenda? It’s just not natural. Sure the jam cooked up just fine developing a rich color and softened fruit. And it jelled beautifully. But it just doesn’t taste like I expect peach jam to taste. Sure, it could be that my peaches were still just a bit under ripe. Or maybe it’s the Splenda afterburn.
This is not to say that it’s destined for the trash can. On it’s own, it’s not something I would spread on my whole wheat english muffin. But surprisingly, when I mixed it into some plain yogurt, it tasted fabulous. Something about the tang of the yogurt cut through the afterburn of the Splenda. When I had SFC taste it, he thought it was as good as what you’d get in the store.
So maybe the moral of Splenda is that it just needs a friend. Something to balance it out. I think the next time I go jammin’, I’m going to introduce Splenda to my friend sugar and see how they get along.
This recipe can be made entirely with white sugar, Splenda, or a mix of the two. It’s also fabulous with strawberries instead of peaches. In about the same amount of time that it takes to watch an episode of Food Network anything, you can have homemade jam.
- 1 lb peaches, peeled and cut (frozen peaches would probably work beautifully here, just let them thaw and be sure not to discard any of the juices)
- 1 cup sugar (or Splenda or a mix of the two)
- juice from one lemon
Combine cut peaches with sugar and lemon juice in a glass or plastic bowl. Let sit for about an hour, for the sugar to dissolve, stirring a few times. Place a saucepan over medium heat and add peaches with all accumulated juices. Cook for about 30 minutes, lowering heat as necessary, until the mixture reduces to jammy goodness. Your spatula will leave a trail as you stir and the mixture will thicken significantly. Cool completely, uncovered in the refrigerator. Once fully cooled, cover tightly. Jam should last about two weeks in the refrigerator, or however long it takes you to gobble it up.