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Spring strawberries in a jam

I love fresh berries. This time of year, I especially love strawberries, and it is common for me to literally eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Berries are sweet and juicy and also a healthy choice, so I have no qualms about eating them in bulk. Strawberries are also fragile – even just a day too long in the fridge and they spoil beyond recognition. Tragic.

My first line of defense against strawberry spoilage is soaking them in a solution of water and apple cider vinegar, then gently storing them in a paper-towel lined container. This is a pretty good strategy for consumption within a few days, which is usually plenty of time to get my berries eaten up. This time of year, though, berries are often available in larger quantities for lower prices, and I just can’t resist, so I have ways of keeping them fresher longer. Rinsed and topped berries freeze well and make for an easy addition to a smoothie or protein shake.

Jam is also a wonderful go-to for fresh berries, but it requires more sugar than I generally want to eat. The recipe I’ve shared here has some healthy hacks that provide the thickening and sweetness that sugar usually provides. First, I used allulose, a natural sweetener that has zero calories but still tastes quite similar to sugar. I used just a bit so that the flavor of the berries really comes through, but if you prefer something sweeter, you can use a different sugar-free sweetener or even a kiss of honey.

The other mystery ingredient here is a surprising one. Chia seeds are hyper absorbent, so just a bit of dry chia added to a juicy fruit puree creates a jammy texture. In addition, chia has the added benefit of giving every serving of this jam a healthy dose of fiber. Chia also thickens without heat, so aside from a quick warm-up in the microwave to help the berries release their juice, there is no actual cooking involved. Mash the berries, stir them with the other ingredients, and then tuck the mixture into the fridge for an overnight rest.

The result is a fresh-tasting fruit spread that I love to eat on crispy sourdough toast. The flavor is less candy-like than most jams, but still sweet enough to taste like something special. I like to leave mine with pretty large chunks of fruit but it would also be delicious as a topping for yogurt, ice cream or pound cake. Or, given the healthy nature of this treat, just eat it by the spoonful – for breakfast, lunch, dinner – or even all three.


Strawberry Chia Jam

Chia seeds can be found in the health-food section at most grocery stores; check your local grocery stores or online to purchase allulose.

2 cups strawberries, chopped

2 Tbsp chia seeds

2-3 Tbsp allulose (or other sweetener of your choice to taste)

Warm the berries in the microwave for 30 seconds, then mash with a potato masher. If you want a smoother consistency, beat the berries with a hand mixer or immersion blender. Add chia seeds and sweetener. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Jam will last for about a week in the refrigerator.

Article and photo by Lisa Crockett




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