NATURAL BERRY JAM
When I first got given unlimited access to a huge amount of black currants I asked friends what I should make with them but said that I didn’t want to make jam. Now, I’ve never made jam, but I had this idea you needed to use lots of sugar, boil it for ages and use specialist equipment.
However, eventually I found this recipe in Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Families book which totally tips this perception on its head. The jam is naturally sweetened with the dates so no need for adding refined sugar. I chose to use pre-chopped dates as it saved even more time and, of course, I substituted black currants for the berries. I think the whole recipe took no more than 15 minutes to make! This jam is perfect for vegan runners because it also has the additional benefit of chia seeds. Apparently chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength” and it has recently become recognised as a superfood. Chia is a good source of protein, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorous and also contains zinc, iron, potassium and some B vitamins. They are also a good source of omega 3. Although the recipe says use white chia you may find it easier to buy black chia and I’m sure it won’t make too much difference to the result especially if you are using dark berries. We tried the jam out on homemade bread with peanut butter and it was delicious. This will definitely be my go to jam recipe from now on. I hope you like it.
Makes 1 & ¾ –2 cups
- 3 – 3 & 1/2 cups (roughly 1 lb) sliced/chopped strawberries, whole blueberries, or raspberries (or a combination of the three; see note)
- 1/2 packed cup finely chopped dates (see note)
- 2–3 pinches sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground white chia seeds
- 1/2–1 teaspoon lemon zest to taste
- Extra sweetener to taste (optional; see note)
Combine the berries, dates, and sea salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the fruit breaks down and the mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low. Cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chia and lemon zest, and cook for another 3–5 minutes until the jam thickens. Add extra sweetener to taste. Let cool, then refrigerate.
Berries Note: Since large berries can throw off proper measuring, slice or roughly chop larger berries before measuring 3 cups. For reference, a 1-pound clamshell container of strawberries is 3–3 & 1/2 cups chopped strawberries.
Dates Note: The dates will darken the mixture slightly (mostly noticeable with strawberries). They also help thicken the jam, so give this sweetening twist a try!
Sweetener Note: The dates usually lend enough sweetness. However, depending on the variety and ripeness of berries, you may want to sweeten. Options include a few tablespoons of coconut sugar, a drizzle of pure maple syrup, or a few pinches of stevia.
Thanks to Dreena Burton for permission to use her recipe. http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/