After going strawberry picking last week, I found myself with many leftover local berries. I was putting them on everything – oats, yogurt, ice cream – but there were still so many left. After much thought and a few cravings, I decided to make this healthy Strawberry Chia Jam recipe.
First off, the picking process at Reesor’s Farm was amazing, as social distancing protocols required each group to stay in their own row. We weren’t rushed and had many berries to choose from. They were so perfectly ripe that they almost melted in your mouth. There’s nothing better than warm sun-kissed berries.
This strawberry jam recipe came about after a craving for vanilla ice cream with fruit compote (fancy, I know). It has been so hot here in Toronto that most of my cravings are frozen. So, I decided to have a go at a “healthy jam” to use as a topping. No pectin required.
Is Strawberry Jam healthy?
“Healthy” is a complex concept. But with minimal amounts of added sugar and the addition of chia seeds as the thickening agent, this plant-based breakfast recipe is packed with the good stuff. Chia seeds are gluten-free whole grains that are full of fibre, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids (1).
Besides being nutrient-dense, chia seeds (and strawberries) are also high in antioxidants (2). Antioxidants protect the body’s cells against free radicals – which are cells that have been exposed to oxidative stress and are in need of electrons. Antioxidants provide free radicals with electrons so that they do not destroy other cells by taking theirs.
When selecting a jam recipe or a jar at the store, it is important to look at the sugar content. Often times, factory-produced products will attempt to find a balance between the added sugar, salt and fat contents of foods to optimize flavour and consumer preference – this is called the “bliss point” (3). If you are looking for a lower sugar jam, it is best to choose one with minimal added sugar (sugar that is NOT naturally produced by the fruit).
The percentage (%) of sugar on Nutrition Facts tables is based on a 100 gram total (eg. 10 grams = 10%) and includes both naturally occurring and added sugars (4). It is best practice to look for products with a lower gram and percentage value – but also to see where this sugar is coming from. Is it from the fruit? Or has it been added? Look for terms like “sugar”, “glucose”, “fructose”, “molasses”, etc. in the ingredients list to identify added sugar items.
This easy homemade jam contains less than 4 grams of sugar per serving. You can make this jam without added sugar or sweetener by eliminating the maple syrup. It then contains about 2.5 grams of sugar per serving.
Overall, this recipe is a nutritious option when it comes to a spread or topping. Don’t forget – the healthiest part of any food is the enjoyment that it brings you.
Canning: Is it safe to can Chia Jam?
Canning is the process of preserving foods (eg. pickles, salsa, store-bought jam). It involves properly heating and sealing the food container so that it can remain self-stable for months or even years.
Chia seeds are a low acid food – unlike strawberries and lemon juice (two other recipe ingredients). Low-acid foods create a higher pH and an environment that may promote the growth of toxins, such as the botulinum toxin (aka botulism). To ensure that this chia jam is safe for consumption, it is best to refrigerate and consume it fresh within a week, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
So in short, it is NOT safe to can chia jam at home. But it can safely be stored in clean jars in the fridge or freezer.
How to make homemade Strawberry Chia Jam
This recipe is SO easy to make. I always thought of jam being a time-consuming task, but this one is ready to serve in just 15-minutes.
What you’ll need:
- Strawberries – fresh or frozen
- Chia seeds
- Lemon juice
- Maple syrup & cinnamon (optional)
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the washed and de-stemmed strawberries over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir continuously until they are soft.
With a fork, hand blender or standing blender, mash or puree the strawberries until they are a desired consistency. If you use a standing blender, add the mixture back into the saucepan once blended. Be careful, the mixture will be hot! Personally, I find the hand blender to be easiest for this. It also leaves you with few chunks and a more traditional jam texture.
Add the chia seeds, lemon juice, maple syrup and cinnamon. Whisk together until combined. Pour the jam into two small jars and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes uncovered before serving or storing. The jam will thicken upon sitting.
That’s it! Seriously.
It tastes delicious on toast, oats, ice cream, your favourite yogurt or baked brie cheese. You can also try it on my Sesame Bagels, Banana Pancakes and Banana Zucchini Pancakes, or paired with my creamy Granola Butter recipe on toast.
As mentioned above, this chia jam recipe will stay fresh in the fridge for a week. Alternatively, you can store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or substitutions that you have tried, please comment and rate this post. I appreciate any feedback and would love to hear how you enjoyed your Strawberry Chia Jam!
Are you looking for more breakfast ideas? Find more recipes here!
Strawberry Chia Jam
- 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries washed, with the stems removed
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp maple syrup optional
- ½ tsp cinnamon optional
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the berries over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir continuously until soft.
- With a fork, hand blender or standing blender, mash or puree the strawberries until they are a desired consistency. If you use a standing blender, add the mixture back into the saucepan. Be careful, the mixture will be hot!
- Add the chia seeds, lemon juice, maple syrup and cinnamon. Whisk together until combined.
- Pour the jam into two small jars and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes uncovered before serving or storing. The jam will thicken upon sitting.