Ever since I was a little boy I have been fascinated by jam making. It started with watching my grandmother, Nana Fay, making her legendary plum jam, one of the highlights of summer. Since then, I’ve cooked up just about every combination of jam flavours you can imagine and even had a market stall in Cyprus making hundreds of jars a week. Jam making can be hot, sticky work, but it is incredibly rewarding.
Something I often get asked about is how to reduce the amount of sugar in jam. It’s a tricky question because it is the delicate relationship between fruit pectin and sugar that gives jam its delicious texture. A classic British jam has a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, while the Europeans often use added pectin to set the jam, reducing the amount of sugar by half. Recently though, a quirky type of jam has been increasingly popular, made with only a tiny amount of sugar or sweetener, and, would you believe, it’s delicious. I’m talking Berry Chia Seed Jam.
The humble chia seed has exploded in popularity over the last decade, as we’ve discovered it is good for more than making ‘Chia Seed Pets’ (remember those?) Chia comes into the equation in jam making because of its unique gelling properties. When the seeds come into contact with liquid, they swell up and create a gel, perfect for setting jam with.
The point here is that, unlike pectin, they don’t need any sugar to thicken the jam, meaning you can make your jam as sweet as you like. It also means you don’t have to use refined white sugar, you can use honey, agave, or whatever sweetener you prefer. Chia seeds are also said to have a host of health benefits, full of fibre, iron, calcium and omega-3. Bonus! Perfect for slathering generously on your morning toast and almost guilt-free.
Because it is missing sugar as a preservative, Berry Chia Seed Jam needs to be kept in the fridge and consumed within about two weeks. That shouldn’t be a problem as this recipe makes just enough for 2 small jars. If you fancy making a bigger batch, simply freeze the jam after cooking and defrost in the fridge before using. Chia seeds can be used to make jam out of nearly any fruit, though fruits that already have seeds (berries, kiwifruit etc.) will look more pleasing to the eye.
Have you tried Chia Seed Jam before? What was your favourite flavour combo? Let me know in the comments below. Take care out there and happy cooking! xJ
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 300g mixed berries, fresh or frozen
- juice of 1 small lemon or orange
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- Gently heat the berries with 50ml of water in a small saucepan until they being to give off their juices. Increase the heat slightly and simmer for 10 minutes using a fork to break the berries up.
- Add the lemon or orange juice and the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Stir through the chia seeds, then set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the jam into 1 large or 2 small, clean jars, seal and allow to cool. When cool, refrigerate and use within 14 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 54Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What sort of fruit can I use to make chia seed jam?
The sky is the limit with Chia Seed Jam, as you are not bound by the amount of pectin in the fruit or the rules of long preserving. While virtually any fruit will work, juicy fruit is best, and fruits that already have seeds (berries, kiwifruit etc) will look nicer optically. If you like you can use a hand/immersion blender to briefly blend the finished jam, this will break up the chia seeds and make them less visible.
How long does Berry Chia Seed Jam last?
It will keep for around 2 weeks in the fridge. Make sure to use a clean spoon when serving as this will mean the jam keeps longer.
Can I freeze Berry Chia Seed Jam?
Yes, you can! Defrost overnight in the fridge before using.