By: Carl Haakenstad, Bulk Buyer
Many of you are now familiar with the nutritional powerhouse that is the chia seed. In case you are not, let me give you a quick introduction. Chia seeds are native to southern Mexico and Guatemala and archaeological records show that these small but powerful seeds were cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Colombian times. Many people have begun eating chia seeds in their cereal, yogurt, or smoothies because they contain healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, calcium, and protein. In short it is a nutritional powerhouse because it gives you lots of good nutrients for a minimum of calories.
Recently, people experimenting in their kitchens have found a way to use chia to boost the nutritional value of that staple of the Midwestern kitchen: homemade jam. I know I grew up eating lots of homemade strawberry jam (and still do eat plenty of it), and I loved it. Homemade jam is not only great on toast, but it’s also great on pancakes, in cookies or oatmeal, and it’s especially tasty over vanilla ice cream.
While homemade jam is delicious, it is not the most nutritious food. That is why chia jam is so great. It is easy to make and the chia seeds give the jam a nutrition boost. The chia seeds also take the place of pectin because they can absorb ten times their weight in water and becoming gelatinous which allows your jam to set up. When making chia jam, you can use fresh or frozen fruit and depending on the type of fruit used you can leave the fruit whole or mash it up. In reviewing chia jam recipes I found some recipes where you cook the fruit and others where you simply mash or puree the fruit and add chia. Whether to cook the fruit or not is up to you and your taste buds. However, a good base recipe to start with is one pound of berries, plus ¼ cup sweetener (optional), and add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. The liquid level of berries will vary so you may need to add a little more water or juice if it seems too thick or more chia seeds if it seems too thin. But remember that chia seeds do need some time to absorb as much liquid as they can, so give it time to determine the appropriate thickness.
With all of that said, here is a basic Blueberry Chia Seed Jam recipe to follow. I encourage you to modify the recipe as you like. Since it only takes 20 minutes to make, you can experiment with many different fruits and seasonings in your own kitchen.
Blueberry Chia Seed Freezer/Refrigerator Jam
3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen
2 – 3 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup (more or less to taste)
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine berries and honey in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until berries begin to soften and burst, about 5 minutes. Add chia seeds and cook until jam is thick, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. When cool, pour jam into airtight containers and either freeze or store in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.