With temperatures still in the 90+ and even 100+ range, it’s just too darn hot in Southern California to make jam or preserves.
That’s a shame since so many berries and stone fruits are peaking and abundant and ready to be stuffed into jars so we can appreciate their jammy goodness on toast.
I have figured out how to outwit Mother Nature, though, with a a technique that couldn’t be simpler, and involves no boiling or canning. It’s raw chia jams, which take advantage of the naturally gummy quality of chia seeds to jell up the jar of fruit.
Here are the simple tricks to making chia jam:
1. Use super ripe, sweet fruit
This isn’t the time to use the hard peaches or the underripe nectarines. Super, duper ripe is the way to go.
2. Use seriously good quality sweetener
By this I mean something special, not just granulated sugar (unless that is truly all you can get). I’m talking about a premium product such as Heilala vanilla syrup, or perhaps coconut sugar, or even real maple syrup if you want a maple undertone. You could even make a paste out of medjool dates and use that to sweeten your jam.
3. Do not oversweeten.
Conventionally made jams, as you well know, have a ton of sugar due to the nature of the chemistry of preserving. They need this to achieve a good set and to properly preserve for pantry shelf life. Consequently, we are used to having a super-saturated sugar taste in our jams. But when you make a chia jam, you will be using far less sweetener, and you can really, truly taste the actual fruit you are using. It might take you a morning or two to get used to a less sweet jam on your toast. In the end, I predict you’ll like it better and will appreciate the fruit taste more than the conventional sugar taste.
4. Consider a more complex flavor
To elevate your jam from a simple one-note flavor, consider making it more complex. This is why I often use a vanilla syrup as the sweetener — the vanilla note goes so well with nearly everything. If I were using stone fruits like nectarines or peaches or cherries, I would add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, because almond and stone fruit is a natural pairing. Or pair two fruits like I have done in the Blueberry-Blackberry Jam 
5. Liquid is key
There has to be enough liquid to cause the chia to swell and jell, but not so much that you make chia fruit soup. If you find that one batch isn’t jelling enough or you have too much liquid, add more chia and wait.
6. Make a small amount at a time
With chia jams, you can make a single jar at a time. This makes sense, too, because you are using hyper-ripe fruit, and storing the jam in the refrigerator. You want to use it up within a week or 2; this is not jam that can sit unrefrigerated on the pantry shelf.
7. Use a flavor brightener
If you taste it and it needs a spark, try adding 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
8. These jams suit special diets
If you think about it, chia jams are raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, low-sugar, low-sodium, vegan, vegetarian, low on the glycemic index, no anthing-you-don’t-want-in-there. Make them to suit your particular dietary needs as well as your own palate.
9. Use chia jam in different ways
- on top of toast, or in your pb&j sandwich, like normal jam
- on a bowl of yogurt, cooked oatmeal, cottage cheese or ice cream, to jazz them up
- spread on pancakes or waffles instead of syrup
- use as a filling in a layer cake, or spread onto a piece of toasted angel food cake
- whirl into your fruit smoothie
10. Take 3 minutes and read up on chia
Once you understand how it works, 
you will be set free to use it in many different ways!
Have some fun experimenting. Now let’s go make a jar of chia jam!
I’d love to hear what flavors you concoct — tell me in the comments.
Shockingly Delicious Chia Jams