No-Sugar Homemade Jam (choose your favorite flavor–even use frozen fruit–in this easy, small batch recipe)

Healthy jam that tastes great…really?  The perks of this no-sugar recipe, however, extend beyond the obvious health benefits.  The flavor may be varied according to preference and what’s on hand.  It’s a small-batch recipe that can be whipped up quickly and there’s no need to process in boiling water.  Frozen fruit is fair game, making it an excellent year round option. And when it’s time to add the honey or  sweetener of choice, you can taste for sweetness, adjusting to your exact liking.

Truth be told, I make most of my jam recipes just like my grandmother did, and they are not low in sugar.  My family and I still enjoy these jams regularly.  Standard recipes for canned jams and jellies rely on pectin to thicken the fruit and make it jell.  Pectin, though, is very sour, so it must be offset with sugar–a good bit of it.  The sugar also helps to preserve the quality of the fruit when canned.

Because I have gotten requests for low-sugar options–and because my kids do eat a lot of PB&Js–I started experimenting with jams that use heart-healthy and highly absorbent chia seeds as a thickener.  This virtually tasteless super food allows the natural sweetness of the fruit to shine.  Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are my usual picks for this type of jam.  The pictured batch, however, uses blackberries and a peach.

The recipe below offers a variety of options, but the basic formula for just over one cup of jam is the following:  12 ounces of fruit, 3 tablespoons of honey, and 2 tablespoons of chia seeds.

No-Sugar Homemade Jam
My latest batch of this all-natural jam uses summer-fresh blackberries and peaches, but the beauty of this flexible recipe is that a variety of frozen fruit may be used to make this a healthy, delicious option all winter long. See the notes section for the many ways to vary the recipe.

Yields 1+ cup.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup blackberries (see notes for fruit substitutions)
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 3 tablespoons honey (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice and/or the zest the whole lemon or lime
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the blackberries, peach, and lemon juice and zest, if using (or substitute fruit of choice, amount directed below).
  2. As the mixture begins to boil, mash the fruit with the back of a fork until it breaks down. This should take 5 minutes, give or take a few minutes depending on the type of fruit used.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the honey, starting with 1 to 2 tablespoons. Taste, and add more honey (or sweetener of choice) to your liking.
  4. Add the chia seeds and stir to incorporate. Let the jam set for about 5 minutes to thicken. Cool and transfer to a jar or air-tight container and refrigerate.
  5. The jam will keep for approximately 2 weeks in the fridge and may be frozen.
Notes
  • This is a very flexible recipe.The trick is to start with 10-12 ounces of berries–a mix, if desired–chopped if large. As done in the above version, the berries may be mixed with fruits like peaches, apricots, or nectarines that have been peeled, pitted and finely chopped for a total of 10-12 ounces of fruit. (Frozen fruit works well and doesn’t have to be thawed. Do dice the larger pieces though; partially thawed fruit is easy to cut.)
  • You may swap the honey for maple syrup or your sweetener of choice. To account for personal preference and varied sweetness among fruits, I recommend tasting as you add the sweetener. If you add lemon or lime juice, you may want a little more sweetener. (Using the zest alone will provide a hint of citrus flavor without added tartness.) Fresh summer fruit may require a little less sweetener than frozen fruit.
  • If you prefer a soupier jam–perhaps for a sauce or to blend into a dressing–simply adjust the amount of chia seeds down slightly, perhaps starting with 1 tablespoon. When varying the amount used from the recipe above, just be sure to allow at least 5 minutes before adding more. This will provide time for the chia seeds to swell, absorb the excess liquid, and thicken the jam. For a thicker mixture, you may add slightly more chia seeds.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/
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A funny thing… The first time, I made this jam with all blackberries that were rather tart.  I asked my kids to sample it at a point where the jam tasted good to me but was still on the tart side.  I was certain they would want it sweeter, but they loved the tarter version.  It was a good reminder to me that not everything must be extra sweet for my kids to enjoy.

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An added note: An all peach version, for example, would allow the tiny, black seeds to be visible.  Some kids may object to this before they even taste the jam.  Berry versions (or a mix of fruit) mask the chia seeds completely.

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Comments

    1. Ann

      Hi Trudy,
      Chia seeds can usually be found in the organic aisle of the grocery store and sometimes in the bulk area. Health food stores and smaller markets often carry them also. (Locally, they can be found at Stauffer’s, Giant, Rhubarb’s and Lemon Street Market.) They look a lot like poppy seeds. Enjoy!

      Reply
  1. rose

    Thanks for this wonderful alternative to sugary jams. Can Chia seeds be ground and, would they still have the same effect? Some folks can’t eat seeds.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Hi Rose,
      You may grind the chia seeds and they would have the same effect. The seeds do soften, however, so the consistency is different than most seeds. (But it wouldn’t hurt to grind if you want to be sure!)

      Reply
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  3. Christina

    I am going to try this recipe using strawberries and rhubarb. How long would you say this jam can stay in the freezer?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Christina, You could freeze this for a couple of months in a standard freezer (or up to a year in a colder chest freezer). I think strawberries and rhubarb would be a delicious combination. The tartness of the rhubarb will likely require a little more honey to achieve the same level of sweetness. I would just taste and adjust to your preference.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I don’t, Dennis, but I wouldn’t hesitate to fiddle with this recipe. If you simply omit the honey and add a modest amount of juice, it will likely work out quite well. I would add according to taste and cook the mixture down a little longer because of the added liquid (remembering that it will thicken as it cools). An option would be to add an extra spoonful of chia seeds to thicken, but you might not need it. I really think this could work quite well!

      Reply
  4. Gary Robin

    I just made strawberry chia jam added a half packet of splenda stevia and it’s delicious
    I’m done with store bought jelly
    This was very easy to make

    Reply
  5. Gary Robin

    How would a banana added to the fresh strawberries work out?
    I finished the whole jar I made last night. I liked it more than just eating plain strawberries
    This is a great dessert

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      That’s a great question. My guess is that it would taste delicious but wouldn’t hold up well over time. That wouldn’t matter, of course, if you eat it quickly. If you try, I’d love to know how you make out. So glad the first batch was a success!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I haven’t canned this variety of jam, Debra, but think the pH would be at a level that would make it safe.

      Reply
  6. Fiona

    Hi there, I made this last night and was so excited about the texture. I can’t eat fruit these past several years, so couldn’t taste the jam. But sadly my husband says it has absolutely no flavour whatsoever. Used all organic wild blackberries, dried peach, coconut water, lemon juice with rice syrup and maple syrup. I think I might add a lot more lemon juice and see if it brings a bit of flavour. Definitely will try again as we are moving countries, and I had stocked the house up with foods for winter (we’re in Australia), so now we are madly trying to eat all our winter stored food in a few weeks!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m sorry your husband didn’t enjoy this and am wondering if your blackberries may have been the culprit. The flavor of this recipe relies on the natural flavor of the fruit, enhanced by a bit of sweetener. If you add more lemon juice, the jam will be tarter. If the blackberries are especially tart to begin with, you may just need a little more honey. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Rebecca

    I made this with all blackberries, adding a little more honey to account for their tartness, and the results were outstanding. Great texture and flavor. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I haven’t processed this recipe myself, Mandie, but the pH level with most fruits should make it safe. As an option, you could try freezing a batch.

      Reply
  8. Debby

    I had a glut of fresh fruit so pureed it and froze it as I was going to use it for smoothies but didn’t. How could this be turned into jam? Same process? Love sugarless jam – usually buy it but would prefer to make my own.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I think it would definitely work, Debby. You might have to tweak the amount of chia seeds for your desired level of thickness, figuring that one cup of pureed fruit is slightly more than one cup chopped. Also, I think I’d still simmer the fruit to break it down a little more, but you could try a raw batch to see how you like it.

      Reply