You may have noticed an increase in recipes containing chia seeds on the blog recently. They helped thicken these overnight oats, and served as a crunchy garnish on this sushi bowl. (If you’d like to read more about chia seeds, here’s a quick overview from Bon Appétit.) Now, it’s time for a recipe that’s all about the gelling magic of the little chia seeds.
As I mentioned in the overnight oats post, chia seeds absorb liquid and help pull mixtures together. In this jam recipe, the chia seeds serve the same purpose as a thickener like pectin, gelling the ingredients together. (One caveat though: They do retain a bit of crunch and add texture. If you don’t like seeds in your jam to begin with, you probably won’t like this.)
Chia jam is a great way to use up fruit that’s a little past its prime, like slightly bruised strawberries or blueberries that are just starting to wrinkle. And with the added sweetener, it also works as an application for fruit that’s on the sour side–just use the larger amount of honey or maple syrup to compensate. So far I’ve only made this jam with berries, but I suspect it would also work with peaches and other fruits. Of the variations I’ve made so far, this blueberry jam is my favorite!
Blueberry Chia Jam
Makes about one cup
- 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 2-3 tsp maple syrup or honey (adjust up or down depending on how sweet your fruit is)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Place the blueberries in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Make sure there is a little water in the pan. If you are using fresh blueberries and they are totally dry, add a splash of water; if they’re frozen or have just been washed you won’t need to do this.
- Cook the blueberries over medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until some begin to burst and liquid starts to accumulate in the pan.
- Add the maple syrup or honey. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat until most of the berries have burst and released their juice. This will take about 5 minutes.
- At this point, you can leave the berries as they are for a chunky jam or break them down further. I prefer to mash them a bit with a potato masher. You could also puree the fruit with an immersion or regular blender, then return them to the pan.
- When the fruit is a texture you like, turn the heat to low and mix in the chia seeds. Stir with a rubber spatula and cook for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. It may appear to increase in volume while you cook, as the chia seeds are absorbing the liquid.
- When the jam reaches a consistency you like, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the jam into a jar or other lidded container. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. The jam will keep for 10-14 days in the fridge. If you won’t use it up in that time period, you can also freeze it. Just defrost it in the fridge before you want to use it.
Use the chia jam the way you would any other jam. My favorite way to eat it is mixed with Greek yogurt, but it’s also great as a spread for toast or biscuits, in a PB&J sandwich, or swirled into oatmeal!