I don’t do a lot of canning or preserving. Or should I say any. As a kid, I remember my Mom canning stores of strawberry jam and ratatouille. And my Aunt Lynne will forever be known in our family for the bevy of preserved jellies gifted to us each Christmas (we would fight over the last of the blueberry and sugar plum). But I’ve never tried canning myself. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a garden that overwhelmed me with it’s bounty, thus — I’ve never had a need to learn this crafty skill.
And no, I didn’t learn how to do it for this post. This is more of a “fresh fruit jam” – it won’t last till next spring in your refrigerator and it’s not meant to. This sweet-tart blend is for eating right now. And if you make enough – you can gift it too – just remind your recipient to put it in the fridge and not on the pantry shelf.
What I like about this, aside from the very berry fruit forwardness, is my ability to control the amount of sweetness in it. I used honey, but regular sugar or agave would work too. And when I say simple, I mean it. Cook down the fruit with a little orange juice, until it gets saucy.
Transfer the fruit to a blender and add your sweeteners and a squeeze of lemon and whir it up in the blender.
I added chia seeds at this point for two reasons: First the health benefits including a good dose of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, potassium, plus they’re naturally gluten-free. Second (and the real reason I added them), when chia seeds are added to liquid, they take on a kind of gloopy quality (that’s the fiber – think Metamucil) which is kind of gross except, hello – we’re talking about jam here. It’s supposed to be jelled! Since I didn’t add any pectin to this fruit, it needs something to act as a binder. Ta-da! Behold, the Chia seed!
Now, just so I don’t set unrealistic expectations – this fresh fruit jam is definitely looser than the store bought stuff, but it will thicken as you refrigerate it. I also think it has more versatility than just plain-old, pigeon-holed jam. Sure, it’s tasty on your toast or muffin, but we swirled it into our yogurt, topped our poundcake with a few spoonfuls + whipped cream and sandwiched it between hazelnut shortbread cookies for a tarty-fruit bite. And if there’s any left, wrap a bow around the jars and give some as holiday gifts – so other people can fight over the last of it.
Red Berry Chia Jam
- 16 ounces strawberries hulled, cut into quarters
- 6 ounces raspberries
- 2 tablespoons orange juice optional
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon chia seeds
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the strawberries, raspberries and orange juice over medium high heat until the fruit starts to break down and soften, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the fruit to a food processor or blender. Pulse 2-3 times to process the fruit. Add the lemon juice, honey and sugar and pulse 2-3 times to combine.
- Set aside for about 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the chia seeds and pulse 2-3 more times to combine.
- Using a funnel, transfer the jam to clean storage jars. Let jam cool to room temperature, then seal the jars and refrigerate.
- Spoon jam onto toast, into yogurt or on sponge cake.