Make this Strawberry Chia Jam
There are so many reasons to love summer in Minnesota. Long days give us plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine and try to get our Vitamin D levels back to normal. We can also wear minimal clothing on our runs. As much as I love to cook, my summer menus are quick and simple–farmerʼs market fresh vegetables in salads or on the grill.
One of my favorite things about Minnesota summers are fresh strawberries. Thereʼs a strawberry farm near my house, and I begin to haunt their website at the end of June, waiting for word that the berries are ready. When they are, I happily spend an hour or two on my hands and knees in the dirt, ﬁlling large ﬂats with the little ruby beauties. Unlike their supermarket cousins, these berries are soft, tart, and red all the way through.
Perfect the moment they are picked, fresh berries begin to rot quickly. One way to preserve their sweetness is in strawberry jam, but itʼs sugar content (some jam recipes have more sugar than fruit!) and long cooking process doesnʼt ﬁt with my need to spend maximum hours in the great outdoors.
I stumbled on a technique for strawberry jam using omega-3 and protein-rich chia seeds as the gel with minimal amounts of unprocessed sweetener. The best part? The jam freezes well–perfect for bringing a taste of summer back into our long winters.
Inspired by mountain mamma cooks
- 3 pounds strawberries, rinsed and hulled
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar or local honey
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- juice of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil or Earth Balance
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Place the strawberries on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a potato or bean masher, and mash the strawberries until they are a rough puree (kind of chunky). Alternately, you can lightly process the berries in a food processor.
- In a non-reactive (NOT aluminum) pot (I used a small, enamel coated Dutch oven), combine mashed berries, sweetener of choice, and lemon juice. Incorporate chia seeds by sprinkling a layer of seeds over the berry mixture, stirring in, and continuing to add the seeds in this way until they are all incorporated. (Chia seeds gel almost immediately upon hitting liquid–this method keeps the seeds from gelling with each other, creating lumpy jam).
- Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Add coconut oil (the small amount of oil keeps the jam from foaming).
- Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring constantly, for ﬁve minutes.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
- Transfer jam to storage containers. I used six half-pint Mason jars. Jam thickens as it cools.
- Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or the freezer for up to six months.
I used the serrated edge of a grapefruit spoon to remove just the green leaves from the soft berries. You want to leave as much berry as possible!