Here’s some late summer yum coming right to your fridge: cherry chia jam. I’ve been fascinated with all of the talk about using chia seeds as pectin, so I decided to try it out. Here are the results.
The Elements of Jam
Jam can be pretty simple stuff. You want a jam that’s thick, sweet, and flavorful. To get this jam, we often add pectin to help our jam get that characteristic slightly goopy, slightly bouncy feeling. To get sweet jam, we often add sugar, honey, or other sweeteners. Of course, the flavor comes from the fruit itself – lovely ripe fruit that you preserve at the peak of its season.
What if you could remove at least one of those elements from the mix? Would your jam still be delicious, and even more healthy?
What’s a Chia Seed Anyway?
For those of us of a certain vintage, chia seeds make us reminisce about Chia Pets, those little terracotta creatures that grow “hair” from tiny black or white seeds. However, chia seeds have a lot of value beyond their ability to sprout hair on tiny terracotta animals. They’re packed with nutrition. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that’s often found in nuts and seeds. They also contain fiber, protein, phosphorus, manganese, and calcium. One of the most interesting properties of chia seeds is the seed’s ability to create a gelatinous coating when immersed in water. This property is helpful when you’re making up some delicious jam.
Raw Cherry Chia Jam
Since chia seeds create a gooey coating when they get damp, they can provide a kind of substitute for pectin in a jam recipe. Historically, pectin is used in cooked jams to help them set.
Here’s how I made a raw cherry chia jam:
- 4-6 tablespoons honey
- 4 cups raw, pitted black cherries
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
I blended all of the ingredients together, adding honey to taste. My cherries were quite naturally sweet, so I went to the low end of the honey. If you have sweet-tart cherries, you might want to go for the higher end.
This recipe made 3 small pots of jam. The jam was looser than traditional pectin jam, more of a thick sauce that was excellent on pancakes in with plain yogurt. To create thicker jam, you could add more chia seeds.
Want to have your own cherry trees?
Would I Make It Again?
This jam was an experiment. Would I make it again? Yes! But I wouldn’t necessarily think of it as a jam, more as a delightful, rather nutritious and fruity topping.
- It’s yummy, which is the most important thing. Cherries are delicious, and cherries with honey and chia are even more so.
- It’s also nutritious. It doesn’t contain white sugar, and the thickener adds nutrients to the jam.
- I chose cherries as a fruit because they don’t have any seeds, so the texture in the jam came entirely from the chia seeds. If you added chia seeds to raspberry jam, you’d have one seedy jam! I probably wouldn’t mind, but if you’re more of a jelly person you might not enjoy this jam.
- Chia jam is also looser than pectin. If you like the trampoline bounce of store-bought jam, it’s not going to compare.
- Chia seeds are pricey at first, but you don’t need many to create a “pectin” for your jam.
If you’re looking for a simple fridge or freezer jam, I would recommend experimenting with chia seeds as a pectin. While this jam isn’t for canning, it was delicious served with yogurt and pancakes, and what more can you really ask for in a jam?
Have you experimented with pectin alternatives?
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