I grew up spoiled, only eating raspberry and strawberry freezer jam made from the berries that my mom or my family picked. Her freezer jam is like liquid gold, so decadently sweet and good that you literally will lick up any drops. However, after making the jam several times as an adult I was surprised to find how much sugar is added to the jam (necessarily so to allow the pectin to thicken the jam). As a mommy trying to eliminate sugar wherever possible, I loved the idea of having a berry jam that was much lower in sugar. A year or so ago I saw a berry chia seed jam on Pinterest so I “pinned” it to try immediately. When I clicked through to the original source I realized it was from Oh She Glows, a trusted blog that I have followed and liked for several years.
The addition of the chia seeds is a nutritional bonus because the seeds add nutrients, fiber and protein to the jam. But the chia seeds are, in fact, a key component of the jam in another way because they act as the thickening agent, eliminating the need for pectin (which is the traditional thickener for jams) and therefore eliminating the need for the extra sugar that makes the pectin do its thing.
I have now made many batches of this jam – including marionberry, blueberry, peach and raspberry. After trying the recipe exactly and then experimenting with different variations, I have ended up with a recipe that my family loves. I typically use the same ratio of berries to chia seeds, sweetening the jam to taste with either honey or maple syrup. I have eliminated the vanilla to let the fruit flavor shine through, but by all means add a splash if you’re into that.
One thing I like about freezer jams is that the flavor and color of the fruit is not altered by cooking it. This also ultimately makes the jam extra quick and easy because you simply add the berries (frozen or fresh), sweetener (honey or maple syrup) and chia seeds to a bowl and stir periodically, letting them rest until thickened. Spoon the jam into jars and refrigerate or freeze. (However, if you prefer cooking the berries, all you need to do is mix the ingredients on the stovetop over low heat. Cooking is often recommended with blackberries and marionberries because the heat helps break down the berries.)
This jam is now a staple in my family’s kitchen. And if you try the jam, you must try Oh She Glow’s Healthy Oat Bars. I have made marionberry and raspberry bars with delicious results both times.
- 3 cups berries
- 2-3 Tbsp pure maple syrup or honey, to taste
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- Combine the berries and syrup in a bowl.
- Gently mash the berries until they reach your desired texture.
- Add the chia seeds and mix well.
- Let the berry-chia seed mixture sit for 10-15 minutes until thickened.
- Refrigerate or freeze in a sealed container.