I noticed something weird about blueberries the other day when I was pureeing them for blueberry sorbet. I whirled them in my mini food processor for 30 seconds or so, and then I left them there to go answer the phone.
When I returned 30 minutes later, they had “jelled” into a semi-solid mass right there in the processor. Just like that!
Why did my blueberries gel? Apparently blueberries – particularly under ripe berries — are naturally high in pectin. Internet research tells me that blueberries have about .4g pectin per 100g, compared to apples which have .5g. In fact, many blueberry jam recipes consist of just heating pureed blueberries with sugar and acid, with no added pectin needed.
I wondered if I could take advantage of that natural property of blueberries, and pair it with a similar property of chia seeds, which also gel when you put them in liquid.
Could I use both to make an uncooked jam?
Yes and yes!
I deliberately under sweetened this, so you could pile it high on toast without getting oversugared. A touch of maple syrup and a snitch of vanilla (which increases the perceived sweetness) is all it needed.
Recipe: Raw Blueberry-Blackberry Chia Jam
Summary: The fresh berry flavor bursts forward in this raw jam thickened by natural pectin in the blueberries and the jelling quality of chia seeds.
- 1 (6-ounce) container fresh blueberries
- 1 (6-ounce) container fresh blackberries (I used Driscoll’s blackberries)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Heilala vanilla paste (or use vanilla extract)
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds (I used White Chia Seeds from Melissa’s Produce)
- Puree the berries in a food processor. Whirl in the rest of the ingredients. Transfer to a jam jar or lidded container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before using. The jam will be semi-firm and set by then.
Chef Scott Samuel of the Culinary Institute of America says, “Uncooked fresh and frozen blueberries in blended mixtures will gel within a few minutes of standing. The natural pectin in the blueberries causes that to occur, but is avoidable by allowing the mixture to stand until it gels, and then re-blend or stir it until the mixture has regained a smooth consistency. Add an acid, such as lemon juice, to blueberries and you get a beautiful pink-to-magenta color that happens naturally. In fact, if you have a blueberry mixture that’s gray or lavender, it means the pH of the environment is too basic. Add a bit of acid to brighten it up.”
Melissa’s Produce sent the chia seeds for recipe testing. Heilala sent the vanilla paste. Driscoll’s provided the blackberries.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian, vegan
Diet tags: Gluten free, Raw
Number of servings (yield): 10-12
Culinary tradition: USA (Nouveau)