If you've jumped on the jam bandwagon, you're probably hooked. After all, this old-school preservation method is a great way to experience summer-ripened fruit throughout the fall and winter months. You're also likely a fan of healthy food if you're taking the time to "put up" your own fruit. If so, you're going to love this idea that we spotted from Gimme Some Oven about harnessing the power of chia seeds for making jam.
If you are new to the jam revolution, read on for a brief how-to. In order to get fruit to jam up, you need to add extra pectin or choose a fruit that is naturally high in pectin. We've covered this process before, but here's a synopsis: According to Einat Mazor, Owner & Chef at Extra White Gold gluten-free flours and mixes, "High-pectin fruit such as lemons, apples, cranberries, and currants will set well once the fruit and sugar have been boiled and the pectin is activated. You may need to add commercial pectin to lower-pectin fruit such as blueberries, ripe cherries, apricots, and strawberries."
The Problem With Traditional Jam
The problem with commercial pectin, according to The Healthy Home Economist, is that it's generally made from corn and can contain dextrose and other additives. Also, in order for fruit pectin to work, it requires a lot of sugar, says The Healthy Home Economist. "In order for commercial pectin to set, 55-85% of the jam or jelly must be sugar," which means most of your jam is actually sugar, not fruit!
Instead of pectin, Gimme Some Oven adds chia seeds to make the jam, which naturally gels up like pectin—as we've seen with overnight oats. Plus, chia seeds offer some other amazing health benefits. A mere tablespoon of chia seeds has three grams of protein, five grams of fiber, and is packed with omega-3s, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The biggest reason of all to use the powerhouse seeds is that the jam tastes great, writes Gimme Some Oven, "Specifically, it tastes like real fruit. I mean, what a concept with a fruit spread?"
Read on for some of the other reasons to try using chia seeds to thicken your jam. And be sure to stock your pantry with the 100 Healthiest Foods on the Planet.
You can add a lot less sugar, or none at all!
Gimme Some Oven cited this as one of the top reasons for using chia seeds, "most of the time I add zero added sweetener…since the fruit is usually sweet enough on its own. For fruits that are more tart (i.e. raspberries), I still only add about 1 tablespoon honey." Compare that to the 1/2 cup of sugar per pound of fruit in most jam recipes.
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You can use fresh or frozen fruit.
With the addition of chia seeds, you can make delicious, homemade jam whether you have a crop of leftover summer strawberries or it's mid-winter and you're just craving some jam. Pop over to the closest Trader Joe's for some organic fruit and go to town.
No canning is required.
You can make this jam when you want it, no need to figure out the fine art that is canning—which, if you mess up, can give you a nasty case of botulism, so it's worth getting right.
It takes 10 minutes!
Traditional jam needs to cook low and slow to give the pectin time to work on the fruit. This recipe takes about 10 minutes because of the magical ability of chia seeds to turn everything they touch into a gel in minutes.
You can use any fruit, not just those higher in pectin.
This recipe works with nearly any fruit, says Gimmee Some Oven. All the berries, plums, even pineapple—which is notoriously hard to cook with, though it will make a thinner jam, warns Gimmee Some Oven.
Use Gimmee Some Oven's 10-Minute Chia Seed Jam recipe as a blueprint for your own fruit-tastic creations!