While jams, jellies and their ilk provide us with easy year-round access to the coveted berries that are only with us a short time each summer, these fruit preserve recipes are also made of so much sugar that even cookies look at them like, "Dude, that’s excessive." Who can even taste the fruit over all that cloying sweetness? This is not what we wanted when we harvested those delicate raspberries and blackberries, or filled our aprons with glorious fresh picked blueberries. We expected the bright flavors that remind us of sunshine and meadows and picnicking in sundresses. We did not expect a sugar coma on whole wheat toast. We deserve better.
Better we shall have, and not only that, it will be far easier than making jam like grandma used to. The answer: chia seeds. These little orbs of nutrients hold up to 30 times their own weight in water, making them the perfect substitute for jam-thickening pectin. For those of you with a complicated relationship with chia (read: thinking they’re slimy and gross), take into account that a good jam is filled with berry seeds anyway, so chia jam is a far more reasonable way to put them into your diet than “pudding” (which is indeed slimy and sometimes a little gross).
Even more of a reason to try this chia jam method out: it requires no cooking whatsoever, and a child can make it. In fact, you can probably sic your kids on this recipe and not even have to be bothered by the whole process. Get a whole bunch of kids together for a “playdate,” force them make you barrels full of fresh berry jam, profit.
What you need:
A whole bunch of berries, fresh or thawed from frozen
Honey, maple syrup, or agave
One of those weird very large forks that come with most flatware sets that no one knows what to do with
How to make it:
Put all the berries in the bowl and start smashing them up with the back of the giant fork. You can also do this with a regular sized fork, but the giant fork never gets to do much of anything. It’s now your chia jam fork. You’ve given purpose to its existence.
Add a few spoonfuls of chia seeds and mix them up well. Give them some time to swell up and thicken the jam. If it’s too loose, add some more seeds. If it’s too thick, add some more berries. If you’re out of berries, add some juice or learn to live with what you got.
Taste the jam and ask yourself, “What does this need?” Then add that thing, which will likely be some sort of sweetener. Do what you will. Add a tiny pinch of cinnamon or cardamom if you want to get nasty.
Fresh chia jam will last about two weeks in the fridge, or a whole year in the freezer.