That's my Jam.
Making jam was always intimidating to me. I think I followed one too many long winded recipes for marmelade or it failed miserably using some 20 year old, out of date gelatine out of the back of my Mom's cupboard growing up (and probably again as an adult too). I was terrified of hours stood by the stove stirring jam that never seemed to set and eventually threw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. I will never make jam. Ever. Again.
This was of course before the internet's vast impact on my information supply, my education about just how many animal products I ate unknowingly and consequently my decision to make more ethical choices about what I keep in my kitchen, one being animal derived gelatine. The ingredients for making gelatine is horrific to say the least, and there are so many great alternatives for vegetarian/vegan diets. This is a good post on One Green Planet about other gelatine substitutes not discussed here (beware of carageenan though, it can be nasty if you have digestive issues like celiacs, collitis or IBS, like moi). Today we are looking at the versatile and nutrient rich Chia seed, a wonderful, natural gelling agent. Native to Mexico and Guatemala but consumed worldwide as a plant-based protein source used raw in breakfasts or baked into cakes and breads. Chia also makes really good jam.
In the last three or so years of crushing over Instagram food feeds and observing the global health food revolution that is happening out there, I have learned a great many things. One is that anything your tastebuds desire in the food world exists without harming animals and the environment. Actually, you don't have to look far to simplify or substitute almost anything to include a few new ingredients and be prepared to go to a few stores to get some odd items on occasion. Going plant based has re-ignited my love for food and its preparation, but also deepened my love for eating healthy, wholesome, natural food. It's very satisfying to recreate dishes with as much or more flavour and tastiness than your previous omnivorous self was used to. Making things from scratch used to be a nightmare, too time consuming and I thought I had better things to do. Turns out it is the best thing to spend your time doing, and it pays dividends when you open your fridge, and have a bounty of amazing things to put together that are wholesome and delicious to eat. It's very satisfying to prepare an amazing meal when you made most of the components yourself, so you know what's in it and where it came from. Reducing the impact my eating habits had on the world, simplified things for me. Simplicity in my life unlocked a huge source of happiness and purpose.
Fast forward to 2017, I now frequently use recipes from the caption of an Instagram post or a Youtube video, and if its quick and simple, I'm usually game. I made this jam years ago and have always kept chia seeds on hand since. Occasionally I'll sprinkle them on breakfast or bake with them but just in case I see blueberries on special at the grocer or need to clean out the frozen berries in my freezer or to make a quick topping for a cake, they are a far more useful addition to the less-frequented back of the pantry.
Chia jam is one of those such revelations in simplicity. Take some fruit you like or that needs to be cooked up as its just about to meet the compost bin head on. Simmer with some flavours that compliment it and some sugar or something to sweeten the deal then add chia as the 'jamming' agent, DONE. Love it when things just work. Plain and simple. On that note, below is a little easy gluten free teacake to go with the quick chia jam recipe...
Quick Blueberry Chia Jam
Put blueberries, coconut sugar/honey/maple syrup, lemon juice and zest, a cinnamon quill and some fresh thyme leaves in a small pan on the stove and gently bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook for 20-30 mins, tasting and adjusting for sweetness. Take off the stove when fruit is soft and gooey and cool slightly, add chia seeds and stir until well combined. Store in a clean glass jar in the fridge for up to 7 days. (Note: Beware that Chia gives the jam a certain viscous texture that some people do not like, if you are one such human, take half the cooked fruit, add the Chia seeds, then blend by using an immersion blender or food processor to pulse until the seeds are broken down, then add back into the fruit to reduce the 'seedy' texture somewhat.)
For Chia jam I use a basic ratio:
For every 2 cups chopped fruit;
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice;
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or sugar;
2 tablespoons chia seeds, plus more if needed to thicken, depending on the fruit you use.
Then add spices, herbs or essences to flavour the jam.
Other fresh fruit jam combinations to make:
- Peach + Cardamon
- Strawberry + Balsamic Vinegar
- Fig + Orange + Cinnamon
- Raspberry + Blood Orange + Vanilla
Lemon, Mango and Thyme Teacake
(Gluten Free and Vegan)
- 1 tablespoon Aquafaba (the liquid from a jar/can of chickpeas)
- 2 flax eggs*
- 240 grams all purpose Gluten Free (GF) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarb
- 10 grams GF dry yeast
- sunflower oil
- 1 pot mango plant based yogurt (I used soy)
- Coconut sugar
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, de-stalked
- Preheat oven to 175ºC, and oil and dust a standard loaf tin with some GF flour.
- Beat flax eggs, aquafaba, yogurt and two yogurt pots full of sugar until foamy and well beaten.
- Add the lemon zest and juice and 1 yogurt pot of oil and continue to beat.
- In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients (flour, bicarb and yeast) then add to yogurt mix and stir through thyme leaves gently.
- Pour into mould, it should fill the tin to ¾ full.
- Bake for 30 minutes, it should feel springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Serve with Blueberry Chia jam, a strong pot of tea and a chatty friend or two.
*1 Flax egg = 1 tablespoons of flaxseed meal: 2.5 tablespoons of warmish water, mixed and left for 5 minutes to gel.