Strawberry Chia Preserves

Strawberries and Prayers

Hello Healthy Ones and Greetings from Maine!

Its full-on Summer and that means berry-season here in Maine. Our weekly CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) from Heritage Home Farm could not have started soon enough. This week's bounty included freshly picked ORGANIC strawberries! Heritage Home Farm is newly certified by Maine Organic Farms and Growers (MOFGA) as an organic farm WHOOP WHOOP! AND, how lucky are we to live right down the Ridge?!. Eitan, Elizabeth and baby Samuel are our neighbors and our farmers providing us with fresh. locally grown organic veggies all Summer long.
Elizabeth sent a message home with David regarding the strawberries. "They are small, but make Great Jam!" Well, that was all I needed to prompt me. But traditional jam is so sugar-filled, and I often have trouble getting it to "jam-up", you know, set to that perfect consistency. If you add pectin to help with the consistency, you need to add even more sugar. What to do? How about a low sugar option using chia seeds for thickening instead of pectin and stevia or maple syrup rather than super-refined white sugar? Well, I did both types for a taste comparison later. Here are the recipes, stay tuned for the results... Can't wait to try either of these on my home-made dairy-free cultured nut cheeses! 

Easy Chia & Fruit Jam
2 c. chopped fruit (in this case Strawberries!)
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. honey, agave, maple syrup, or sugar OR 1 - 2 t. Stevia Extract
2 T. chia seeds, more if needed

Prepare the fruit as needed.
Cook the fruit until it starts to break down
Remove from heat and stir in the sweetener, I used maple syrup, and lemon juice.

Stir in the chia seeds.
Let stand for a few minutes to thicken.
Transfer to containers for storage for up to 2 - 3 weeks in fridge, longer in freezer.

Microwave Jam

Somewhat Traditional Strawberry Jam (Microwave)
Equal weights of fruit and sugar, in this case I use my scale in metric grams. 500. fruit  and 500 grams fine sugar. You can estimate with cups but it might not "jam-up" as well. I also grate a half apple and add a bit of citric acid or squeeze a bit of lemon juice to help with the thickening. You can see from this recipe how much more sugar is needed for traditional styles of jam. 
Briefly blend the fruit and place in a large microwave-proof bowl with the sugar. Microwave on High for 3 mins, then stir well. Microwave for a further 3 mins on High, stirring after. Finish with a further 2 mins, add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired, then pour into warm sterilized jars. Once bottled and cool the jam is ready to eat. Will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Keep in the fridge once opened.

Other things to try with Preserves and Jam:
Combine fruits, Such as Strawberries and Rhubarb, mixed Berries, etc.
Add chopped Crystal Ginger (mixed in thoroughly) during final stages before placing in jars.
Top the jam with a small amount (1 - 2 t.) of your favorite liqueur such as Grand Marnier (orange) or Chambord (raspberry). after bottling, before sealing jars.

Have a Safe, Happy & Healthy SUMMER!



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