While rows of jars stand turning sterile in the oven, upon the hob a pot of fruity goodness bubbles ferociously filling the kitchen with a sweet comforting warmth. Slathered on bread or slapped on a scone, jam is a wonderful way to enjoy a glut of fruit months after harvest, which would otherwise have gone bad. But there is a sticky downside to this treat, excessive amounts of sugar, while living in times of mass obesity.
Sugar has an important role to play in jam more than sweeten sharp fruit, it breaks down the pectin present enabling a jam to set, and behaves as a preservative preventing discolouration and mould. So! Is there a way this shrewd use of abundant fruit can be friendly on the waistline?
The answer is yes. And it lies in the edible seeds of a member of the sage family; Salvia hispanica and the closely related Salvia columbariae, are native to central and southern Mexico and the southern western states of the US. These oval seeds are grey with black and white spots, capable of absorbing large amounts of liquid up to twelve times their weight. As they absorb and swell chia seeds develop a mucilaginous texture, and this is what sets a jam in place of excessive amounts of sugar.
Below is a delicious raspberry jam sweetened only with honey. Unlike conventional sugar based jam it will only keep for a week in the fridge, but eliminates the worry of ‘a moment on the lips means a lifetime on the hips’.
Raspberry & Vanilla Chia Jam
- 500g fresh raspberries
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- Halve the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, place in a pan with the raspberries and honey and heat over a low heat for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the chia seeds to the pan stirring thoroughly, heat for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely and set.
- Store in sterile jars in the fridge, for a maximum of 1 week.