Fresh summer berries, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar are simmered and thickened with chia seeds in this flavorful and healthy chia jam.
I didn’t make these intending to blog them. I just had some berries in the fridge that I wanted to use up before they went bad, so I decided to make some simple berry chia jams. This is nothing new – it’s been done by at least a billion other bloggers and home cooks before myself. If it is new to you, here’s the lowdown: chia seeds absorb lots of liquid, so when you soak them, they puff up and turn to magic little squish balls. It’s incredibly satisfying, and works great in stuff like pudding. In the case of fruity jams, like I’ve made here, they work as a thickener. All you really need is some fruit, chia seeds and sweetener. This is awesome news for me, because I generally have the latter two ingredients on hand, so when I’ve got some berries that are about to go, I can always whip up a jar of chia jam. This is also great news because it means these jams can be customized to my taste. Store-bought jam is usually too sweet for me, but when I make chia jam, I throw in just a few tablespoons of maple syrup, and they turn out perfect.
So I decided to make some blueberry and strawberry jams the other day. My jams were simmering away on the stove, when I got the urge to tip the bottle…of vinegar…into my jam. I had a bottle of balsamic sitting right there, having just used it in another recipe, and balsamic goes beautifully with the flavor of summer berries, so I decided to give it a whirl and throw some in. I loved the result! The hint of balsamic vinegar balances out the light sweetness just enough to make you stop and smile after taking a bite.
When you make these, please use a good quality balsamic vinegar. The good stuff has lots of flavor, is nice and thick, and just a bit sweet. The cheap stuff just tastes like…well, vinegar, and vinegar flavored berry jams don’t sound all that appetizing, do they? You can, of course, use this recipe as a guide for making regular old chia jams, sans balsamic. Just follow the recipe, but skip the balsamic part. Easy. Feel free also to customize in your own creative way. Add some other flavors, herbs, spices, or switch up the berries. (Hint: I really want to try this with some black pepper!) I went with strawberries and blueberries for my jams, but you should be able to work this with blackberries or raspberries as well.
Balsamic Berry Chia Jam
- 1 lb. fresh berries
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1-1 1/2 tbsp. chia seeds
- pinch salt
If using large berries, like strawberries, coarsely chop them. Place in small saucepan with maple syrup. Stir to coat the berries. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries are softened, about 5 minutes.
Gently mash berries using a potato masher or fork, leaving a few chunks if you like. Stir in balsamic vinegar, chia seeds and salt. Stir and bring back to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Transfer to storage container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Makes about 1 cup.
I used 1 tablespoon of chia seeds for strawberrry jam, and 1 1/1 tablespoons for blueberry, as the blueberry mixture was a bit thinner. Adjust as needed based on the thickness of your mixture and preferred thickness of the jam. You can also add a bit more chia seeds at the end if your jam seems too thin, but keep in mind that it will continue to thicken as it cools.