You will be hard-pressed to walk into a grocery store and find a jam or jelly that is not laden with sugar (or high fructose corn syrup — gasp!). But preserved fruit? That's a traditional treat that has been passed down throughout the ages, and I was not willing to give that up when I started eating real foods and cutting out processed and added sugars years ago.
Disclaimer: I've never canned anything in my life. I've never purchased pectin, the magical, soluble gelatinous polysaccharide that's extracted from ripe fruits for use as a setting agent in jams and jellies. I am one to cry over spoiled fruit though, because I know my grandmother would have figured out a way to preserve it, can it, pickle it, etc.
Enter the chia seed. Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that's native to Mexico and Guatemala. They may be tiny, but they're loaded with Omega 3 fats, protein, dietary fiber and antioxidants. And they absorb water, helping you to feel full and satiated after eating them.
Because of the soluble fiber in the seeds, chia will begin to gel when soaked in liquid. You can use chia to replace eggs in many recipes by combining 1 T finely ground chia seeds (use a blender or clean coffee grinder) with 3 T water. Below you'll find that you can create that jelly-like consistency with fresh, frozen, or fading fruit...and chia seeds!
Chia Seed Strawberry Jam
20 mins // Yields 1 ¼ cups
1 cup stemmed and quartered strawberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup water
1 T chia seeds
1-3 T honey, to taste
1 tsp. lemon juice
1. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring frequently, and mash several times with a potato masher or fork.
2. Continue to cook for 20 minutes or until jam thickens significantly and a spoon will leave a clear path along the bottom of the pan.
3. Remove from heat and spoon into a clean jar. Allow to cool; jam will continue to thicken as it cools.