While developing recipes for grain free baking, I have discovered that chia seeds can be a helpful ingredient in gluten free breads, grain free cakes and healthy sweets. Chia can be used as a whole seed or after grinding, on its own, or in a mixture with flax seeds. On several occasions chia seeds did a job, no other ingredient would do. I was genuinely impressed by chia seeds properties and started to use them more often. Chia seeds open new opportunities for making healthy and tasty jams.
Jams made from fresh or frozen berries with chia seeds have indisputable advantages, compared to regular jams made in traditional way. These advantages are:
- Shorter cooking time results in better nutritional qualities; jams have fresher taste with more vitamins preserved.
- Using chia seeds as thickeners allows to avoid pectin use and dramatically reduce sugar content in jams.
- Jams with chia are an absolute treasure in baking. In order to achieve the same result with regular jam, you either have to cook it to death with resulting very high sugar content, or dehydrate jam in microwave to prevent its leaking and sugar burning during baking. With that high sugar content the only jams left are those made from strong acidic fruits and berries, with high pectin concentration as well.
- Chia gives excellent results in jams, spreads and sauces, made with honey to replace refined sugar. Honey can create a problem bringing extra liquid to the mix, which results in very runny jams.
- Chia seeds do not affect the taste of jams, and the texture they add, goes practically unnoticed in berry jams. With raspberry jams you would not even guess that there is anything except raspberries in it.
- The final advantage is related to the use of frozen berries. Compared to fresh ones, they are much more affordable all year round.
I made 2 different varieties of frozen berries jams with chia seeds. The first jam I made specially for baking, using frozen raspberries, sugar and chia seeds. The second one was made to avoid refined sugar. I made it from organic mixed berries, organic honey and chia seeds. The difference in recipes is only the amount of water I used.
- 500 g (whole package) frozen raspberries
- 200 g sugar
- 100 ml water
- 30 g white chia seeds (3 table spoons)
- 1 table spoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 550 g (whole package) organic mixed berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)
- 200 g organic honey
- 200 ml water
- 30 g white chia seeds
- 1 table spoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- place frozen berries in a deep saucepan, add water
- cook on medium heat until boiling point
- add honey or sugar at boiling point
- cook for 5 min on low heat
- use stick blender when making jam from mixed berries, with large strawberries in the mix
- add chia seeds and continue cooking for 8-10 min
- pour hot jam into clean and dry glass jars, cover jars with lids when jam is still hot
- refrigerate after jars cooled down
To make sure you have the consistency of the jam you need, place one tea spoon of jam on a plate, let it cool and check how runny or thick the jam is.
I have to say, that I never had jams tasted so fresh. They also look more vibrant compared to regular jams. When the sugar content and overall sweetness in jam is reduced, berry flavours become more intense. Excessive sweetness in regular jams often overpowers the delicate taste of fresh berries. This does not happen in chia jams.
I started to use raspberry and chia jam as a topping for fruit salads, when I make them as a special dessert. I whip cream with a touch of vanilla sugar half way and add jam.
I continue to whip the cream with my jam until stiff peaks.
This vanilla raspberry cream is simply divine, the balance of gentle sweetness and tartness from raspberries with vanilla flavour is a combination perfect for any fruit and berry salad, and makes this very simple dessert decadent and indulgent.
I also used this jam in different baking exercises. I tried my own formula for gluten free “brioche like” yeast dough, which I used to make raspberry jam and chocolate rolls. I can only say, that I know how they tasted when completely cooled down, but have no idea how they would keep till next day. They did not last that long. We finished them within 3 hours.
The second portion of the dough I rolled as puff pastry for Danish pastries, some of them with raspberry and chia jam. They were very nice, too. And I know for sure, that they do not change their taste the next day. Danish pastries with frangipane and raspberry jam were the best.
I am going to make these berry and chia seed jams on regular basis, to have our own healthy alternative to commercially available jams with only 3 ingredients. They do not have any additives, acidity regulators, preservatives. They also have only half the sugar and are full of remaining vitamins absent in fully cooked jams. The opportunities to use these jams to make all possible tarts, cakes, creams, sauces for deserts and savoury dishes are limitless.
My sincere thanks go to Naturally Eileen where I learned for the first time how to use chia to make jams.