Strawberries are a favourite, but storing them is a pain, one of the ways to enjoy strawberries for longer is jam, but I have never been keen on all that sugar, so I make my strawberry jam sugar free and pectin free by adding chia seeds.
I choose to add natural thickeners to my jam rather than pectin because you have to cook your jam for much longer if you add pectin and I like fresh-tasting jam with strawberry chunks, rather than overly stewed and syrupy, sweet.
To replace pectin you can use grated apple and or lemon piths, which contain a lot of pectin naturally.
I use mine to mix through cheesecake, it’s my go-to for layering on a sponge cake as it tastes just like sliced strawberries, and it’s always nice to know that on those quick breakfast days, jam on toast isn’t loaded with sugar and is full of vitamin C and fibre.
These last few weeks I have been so busy, and while I have made several batches of this ham I have yet to preserve it, and my kids keep eating it!
I get two half-litre weck jars from 1.6 kilos of strawberries and every time I hit the shops I buy more to make another batch.
It’s a thick consistency, with lots of fruit chunks, if that’s not your thing there are instructions on how to make this sugar free jam, any way you might prefer.
MAKE THIS JAM AS SWEET AS YOU LIKE
This is a jam recipe that isn’t particularly sweet it is quite tart and while I do not like to add sweeteners to my food all that often, this is one recipe that I will add a few tablespoons of monk fruit or stevia to, just to remove the tang of the strawberries and lemon.
You can add as much as you like, just add one tablespoon at a time, mix thoroughly and taste and continue adding until you reach your desired sweetness.
I do try to get my kids to like things not so sweet, and so am always pushing the boundaries with how little sugar I can add, and while this recipe does use sweeteners I am wary of any artificial foods for my kids, I prefer to keep it as natural as possible and I so I don’t add more than four to six tablespoons of monk fruit sweetener, depending on the size of the batch of jam and the overall sweetness of the strawberries.
I typically serve this on scones with whipped vanilla cream or sourdough toast with a drizzle of maple syrup.
You can spread it on my vanilla sponge!
It’s great stirred through whipped cream as a quick dessert (and is keto-approved in small amounts) or through cheesecake, or dolloped on a pavlova.
Another jam I love on pavlova or scones is my blueberry jam with brown sugar!
BATCH COOKING STRAWBERRY JAM
I do a big batch of jam, around 1.5 kilos of strawberries at a time as I find I can fit them easily into my pot, but that will only get you a few jars of jam.
It’s tempting to cook them all up in a big pot, but strawberry jam needs a little extra care, to create natural pectin levels with sugar (instruction here on how to make this jam with sugar the old fashioned way) you need to get the mixture to a rolling boil( a high vigorous bubbling boil with a churning action in your pot) this is binds the natural pectins with the acidity of the lemon and berries and thicken your jam.
In this recipe even though it is sugar-free, you also want that high heat and rolling boil to bind your fruit pulp to your liquid to create that jammy consistency.
To properly do this I suggest doing smaller batches of jam rather than shoving as much as you can in your biggest pot.
If you feel the fruit is not binding to the jam that is forming around it after 40 minutes of a rolling boil, (unripe fruit or larger chunks will take a lot longer to break down) then use a potato masher to gently break up the fruit.
NATURAL PECTIN WITHOUT SUGAR
You can find natural pectin in the fruit, high amounts of pectin can be found in the rinds, seeds, and membranes. Fruits like apples, pears, guavas, quince, plums, gooseberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits naturally contain large amounts of it — this is why they are very firm.
the best place to find this pectin easily is the piths of citrus and since you need to add lemon juice to your jam, using the while lemon and peeling and dicing or grating the white pith from the lemon is an excellent way to get natural pectin into your jam.
You need to add lemon to your jam if you intend on preserving and to add pectin, you don’t need much, just squeeze a lemon wedge or two into your jam, and you can throw them in and then fish them out before placing your jam into jars.
If you have muslin on hand, you can add the rinds pith and seeds in a little pouch and remove it when you finish cooking.
MAKING SUGAR FREE STRAWBERRY JAM WITH CHIA
- Halve or quarter strawberries- I use 1.5 kilos but the recipe is for 500 gr so you can double or triple it or more.
- Peel and grate the pith of a lemon – if you have any left bag and freeze it for next time.
- Grate an apple if using-don’t use one that is not sweet (grannny smith) it will add too much extra tart to the jam.
- I don’t prep much, I just halve my strawberries, and throw them into a pot, let them cook for around an hour.
- once they are softened and there is plenty of liquid in the pot add the lemon and apple. (1 tsbs lemon pith per 500 grams of strawberries.)
- Grate the entire apple (not the core) and add with the lemon pith
- Cook for another half an hour on medium- high heat.
- Add 1 tblsp of black chia seeds per 500 grams of strawberries.
once it’s been on the stove for around an hour on high heat I add the chia, not much only around a quarter of a cup for 1.5 kilos of strawberries and 3 apples, which I cook until it has absorbed the liquid and the chia has softened.
About another 15 minutes.
If you are preserving your jam, place it into the jars while it is still hot, then let it cool in the jars before placing it on the seal and lid.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SUGAR FREE STRAWBERRY JAM
Don’t want chunky jam? You can cut the strawberries into smaller chunks or puree them in a food processor.
Do you like your jam bright red? Don’t overcook your jam, start with smaller chunks, and don’t wash your strawberries, instead wipe them with a damp cloth before chopping (the more water you strawberries have in them the more they need to cook) then add a little lemon juice or ascorbic acid to your jam )3-4 tablespoons per kilo of strawberries.) add your chia as soon as the berries begin to soften and remove from the heat as soon as the consistently turns Jammy.
Want to turn this recipe into a regular jam? add sugar, in a ratio of 1:1. 500gr strawberries to 500gr of sugar, cook on a rolling boil (high heat) for 40 to 50 minutes to increase natural pectin and add 1/4 cup lemon juice for 1 kilo of strawberries.
- 1.6 kilos of unprepped strawberries.
- 1 lemon
- 1 apple
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/3 cup monk fruit sweetener or stevia, (note stevia is measured in smaller doses, add one measurement equivalent to a tsp or tbsp and mix and taste until desired flavour is reached
- prep your strawberries. you can halve them after cutting off the tops or hulling them or you can quarter them or pop them into a food processor or blender and blend.
- prepare your lemon, peel off the rind with a potato peeler or gently grate away and then grate or cut and remove the white pith underneath the thin rind, this will be thicker and if you get some flesh with it it's fine. if you cut it off the lemon you can dice it or you can grate it off with a zester.
- use a pot big enough to accommodate your berries. You need to achieve a rolling boil so you need enough space at the top of the pot for liquid from the berries to rise up slightly.
- if you don't have a big enough pot for 1.5 kilos of berries make them in smaller batches of 500 grams.
- add the berries to your pot and cook on medium heat stirring often until your berries soften and liquid begins to fill the pot.
- Once you have enough liquid to cover the berries (you don't add the liquid your berries will reduce on their own) turn up the heat to high, stirring constantly to avoid burning on the bottom.
- when you achieved a good rolling boil let them cook for a few minutes before adding your lemon pith and juice.
- For every 500 grams add 2 tbsp of lemon juice and one tsp of lemon pith diced or grated.
- Add your grated apple (optional)
- cook for another 4o minutes on high heat, keep up the rolling boil when the jam has reached a good thick consistency but you still see loose liquid on the top its time to add your chia to soak up the last of the liquid.
- when the jam has reached a good thick consistency but you still see loose liquid on the top its time to add your chia to soak up the last of the liquid.
- add 1 tbs per 500 grams of strawberries. If you feel you need a little more add 2.
- cook on medium heat, stirring constantly for another 15 minutes, jam does not need to boil just gently bubble.
- during this time add your sweetener. It's completely up to you how much you want to add, and it varies for me from batch to batch, you can't go wrong with adding a tbs at a time and tasting.
- take your pot from the heat and cool slightly.
- If you intend on canning your jam, have your jars prepped and ready to ladle in hot jam and begin the process.
- If you arent preserving it, store it in a jar or container for up to a month in the fridge.
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