Making your own jam doesn’t have to be hard! I used to can our jams, but it because incresingly dificult with a child who would not let me take him out of the Ergo; and using a pressure cooker while babywearing is not safe. So, I set out to find a different way to preserve our hard work after picking season. With this recipe, you can make jam without using pectin, gelatin, refined sugars or a canner! Most jams you will find, even at a farmers market, will contain Pectin. Pectin is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in many fruits including apples and lemons, and is commonly used as a thickening agent in jams and jellies. While pectin naturally occurs in fruits, the process in which it undergoes to get into the box at the grocery store is not as natural. Factories receive fruit dried residue (pulp, peel and cores) from a variety of juice companies. At the factory, the dried ‘sludge’ is added to hot water containing a processing aid. After further holding time to modify the pectin, the liquid is mixed with an alcohol to precipitate the pectin. Before or after drying, the pectin is often soaked in ammonia to produce an amidated pectin. Finally, the dried solid is ground to a powder, tested and blended with sugar to form a standard gelling powder found at a health foods or grocery store (source). I don’t personally avoid pectin at all costs, as I support local food artisans often at farmers markets by buying jams from them for my family, but what I will say is that ever since I started using this method to make jam I have decreased my pectin intake by a LOT.
When I first started making my own jam, I search the web for a “natural homemade jam”. I was bombarded with recipes that claimed to be natural, “no refined sugars, no added sugar, organic fruit”. Unfortunately, all of the recipes I came across called for pectin or gelatin. In hopes of creating a truly natural jam, I search for pectin substitutes. Since the pectin is used as a thickening agent, what I found was that you could use chia seeds to create the ‘gel’ like quality in jams. I was excited to give this a try since we already had lots of chia seeds at home, and because they have so many health benefits of their own.
This jam recipe is NOT canned. I store it in the freezer in small mason jars and bring them out when we have finished our last jar. They last in the fridge for about two weeks. It is such an easy way to have fresh jam at home. We are still enjoying jam that we made last summer after days of picking berries at local spray-free berry farms.