Hot muggy air. Countertops stained with wet and dried berry juice. An all-day affair of simmering a pot of crushed berries only adding to the heat. A steam burn on your right hand when the boiling glass jar you picked up accidentally touched your skin. Arms sore, stirring and stirring and constantly stirring, feeling like you can’t possibly take another second of this torture. Fear that your batch won’t turn out, your jars won’t seal or you’ll poison half your family (the other half wisely chose this jam instead).
For another thing, it’s lightning-fast to make. Start to finish, this jam can be made in 20 minutes. It’s true. And best of all, when you make jam this way, you don’t have to make 41 jars of it!
Making homemade jam this way has many advantages over store-bought like:
- It’s not cloyingly sweet
- It’s not of dubious freshness
- It doesn’t contain preservatives, artificial colours and/or “natural” flavours
- It’s completely versatile and customizable to whatever you happen to love
Instead of using commercial pectin, this jam relies on the incredible power of chia seeds, which absorb more than 10 times their weight in liquid to thicken whatever you’re making. I’m not sure where or when I first discovered this idea of “chia jam” but now I can’t imagine making homemade fruit jam any other way.
Health-promoting chia seeds, which are powerhouses of protein and omega 3 fatty acids, are added to simmering fruit and gently cooked until they thicken to a jammy consistency. This makes a flavourful, almost “instant” jam that you can enjoy on muffins, bread, in cookies, ice cream or even–dare I say–swirled into cocktails!
To give you an idea of how fast this jam-making is: I started making this when my friend sent me a message that she was getting off the highway on her way to visit me. So, in the 20 minutes that she drove to my house, I made homemade jam.
If you want to make some, here’s how to do it.
20-Minute Homemade Strawberry Jam
- 1 1/2 cups whole frozen strawberries
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons whole chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for five minutes or just until the mixture starts to boil.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly so the mixture doesn't stick.
Once the jam has almost thickened to your liking, take the pan off the heat and let cool. It will thicken a bit more as it cools.
Fill a container and store in the fridge.
In this case I used local frozen strawberries I picked up earlier this year, but you could easily substitute local raspberries or blueberries. You could use fresh fruit, which might cut your cooking time by 5 minutes or so. You could even craft your own signature flavour with any other kind of fruit (adjusting your cooking time based on water content and any other ingredients added). You control how thick or thin it is based on how long you cook it. This is a jam you can make and “play it by ear”. In the time it takes to drive to the store to buy store-bought jam, you can make it homemade. Now who says homemade is too much work?
Now, this is not a jam that you can and keep in the pantry cupboard until the middle of winter. But you don’t need to because when it’s this easy to make jam, you can make a fresh batch while you get the rest of your breakfast ready.
Of course, I want to know: what’s your favourite flavour of jam?
Life is a plate… eat up!
P.S. This blog post took me a lot longer to write than the jam did to make, so go make some!