Learn how to make chia jam with any fruit—you can use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, or a combination of your favorites! This delicious alternative to store-bought jelly is much healthier and very easy to make.
🥄 What is Chia Jam?
Chia jam is made by combining fruit and chia seeds, often without any sugar or pectin. Chia seeds will thicken the puréed fruit in as little as 30 minutes. Magic!
Well, actually, the magic comes from the fiber found in chia seeds. Fiber takes up more than 40 percent of the seed's composition (and keeps you ahem, regular).
🧪 Science of Chia Seeds
Chia seed mucilages (secretions) are water-soluble polysaccharides. When hydrated, they create hydrogel networks that can absorb large quantities of water due to swelling. This is why chia seeds can absorb liquids as many as 12 times their weight!
Onto less science and more practical information: you can use fresh or frozen varieties of your favorite (jam-friendly) fruits. For me, that's strawberries or figs unless I can get my hands on fresh mulberries.
Chia jam is extremely simple to make. It doesn't necessarily need to even be heated, but the flavor profile is certainly improved by it.
According to Mr. Johnston (flavor scientist/husband), "jammy" is a tasting note defined by its ripened and cooked character.
The additional sweetness and pungency brought on by cooking fruits sets "jammy" flavors apart from "fresh" flavors. In short... we should cook our chia jam for a more authentic taste.
Heating also makes it easier to mash or blend the jam if you prefer to do so. But you can actually skip the mashing process altogether and make chia "preserves" from whole fruit instead, especially with berries.
Once the fruit has been cooked and (optional) mashed, we just add in a small amount of lemon juice for acidity along with the chia seeds. Give it a mix and ta-da! You made jam without spending 3 hours to reduce it.
Depending on which fruits you're using and how ripe they are, you may need to add a sweetener like maple syrup or treacle. No rush, you can decide whether or not your chia jelly needs it after it's set.
- Fresh or Frozen Fruit: If this is your first time making chia jam, you can't go wrong with classics like strawberry or raspberry. Peeled apricots, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, figs, or a tasty combination of your favorites are all good ideas!
- Chia Seeds: Black, white, organic, conventional... any type of whole chia seeds will work.
- Lemon Juice: Need it for just a tad bit of acidity. Feel free to substitute with ¼ the amount in citric acid if you'd like.
- (optional) Lemon Zest: Adding citrus zest is completely up to you, but it certainly makes chia jelly tastier and more interesting.
- (optional) Maple Syrup: Chia jelly made of fruits that aren't naturally very sweet, such as raspberries, often needs a bit of sweetener to taste as best as it can. The amount will vary on the type and ripeness of the fruit. Start low and add as much as you think it needs.
🥣 How to Make Chia Jam
Place the fruit in a large saucepan and cook on medium-high heat until the juices ooze out and boil, about 12-15 minutes.
Take the fruit off the heat and blend with a regular or immersion blender. Alternatively, you may use a potato masher or fork to mash the cooked fruit, but the texture won’t be uniform.
If you'd like whole fruit preserves instead, you don't need to blend or mash at all.
Once blended, stir in the lemon juice and chia seeds. Taste (be careful it might still be hot!) and add maple syrup or another sweetener of choice to your liking.
Note that foods usually taste sweeter when they’re hot, so you may want to add more sweetener than you think is needed if you plan on enjoying this jelly chilled or at room temperature.
Pour into an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to a week. Keep in mind that this jelly doesn’t have enough sugar to be shelf-stable.
🥪 Ways to Use Chia Jam
Use chia jam the same way you enjoy regular jam or jelly! My go-to is peanut butter and jelly sandwich on milk bread:
You can also use it as a donut filling for some sufganiyot:
❓ Chia Jam FAQs
Chia jam is usually made with much less sugar than regular jam. It also has omega-3-rich chia seeds, making chia jam a healthier alternative.
Chia jam can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Chia jam is good for about one week in the refrigerator. Since chia jelly isn't thickened with sugar, it can't preserve fruits for as long or as safely as the regular jamming process.
You can make chia jelly with classics like strawberry or raspberry. Or venture out to peeled apricots, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, figs, or a tasty combination of your favorites!
Chia jam can be stored in a can in the refrigerator for up to one week. It can't be "canned" like regular jelly. Find out more about safe canning recommendations by the CDC.
Chia doesn't have pectin. Chia seeds achieve their gelling properties through their mucilage (water-soluble polysaccharides). When hydrated, they create hydrogel networks that can absorb large quantities of water due to swelling.
The most common way to thicken jam without pectin is to reduce it with lots of sugar over an extended period of time, usually a few hours. Alternatively, you can use chia seeds to thicken jelly.
Yes! Chia seeds are full of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Check out more health benefits of chia seeds here.
You can enjoy chia jelly the same way you would regular jam! Spread it on toast, mix it into oatmeal, or fill donuts and other desserts with homemade chia jelly.
Yes, you can use frozen berries to make chia jelly. If thawing large pieces, make sure to cook them all the way through.
Yes, you can make fruit preserves using chia seeds by not mashing or blending the fruit.
You don't have to cook the fruit to make chia jelly, but it is recommended. According to flavor science, cooking fruits generally brings additional sweetness and pungency, making them taste "jammy" as opposed to "fresh".
No, there is no need to grind chia seeds to make jam. Whole chia seeds can be added to make jam without any prior treatment.
If you're planning to make a more jelly-like, smooth spread, grinding the chia seeds or blending the mixture is a good idea.
Did you make this vegan chia jam recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a star🌟 rating below. This helps me run Aegean Delight and I always appreciate it 🙂Print