Lekker: Raspberry Chia Jam


Did I just throw you back? Back to the days of infomercials, before TiVo, back before I discovered my black thumb and I thought I actually stood a chance of keeping one of those things alive? Look, you can even get one of Barack Obama and if THAT isn't just a *shade* on the nose I don't know what is.

Anyway, so apparently chia seeds are a thing OUTSIDE of the infomercial world, even though the red squiggly line underneath it is telling me Blogger disagrees. Shut up, Blogger. People are actually eating it, and as I'm always game to try the latest food trend to see if it's hipster bullshit or actually delicious, I picked some up at Trader Joe's last weekend.

First things first: they are teeny tiny light gray seeds that look like fleas.

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but it's TRUE! I figured we could just get that out of the way, dry heave quickly, and move on.

Moving on, the thing that intrigued me most about these flea-seeds when researching them online was their gelatinous properties. That is, if you mix them with a bit of water and let them hang out, the high content of fibre creates a gel-like substance making this a PERFECT substitute for pectin AND gelatin! That is a bizarro and freakin' cool quality, and a big deal for two reasons. (Normal people don't get excited about this kind of thing but I do so bear with me because I'm about to drop some knowledge on you.)

First, pectin. Pectin is the substance that makes jams and marmalades...um...jammy. It's a thickening agent found naturally in the cell walls of plants that makes homemade jams gel to form a nicer spreading consistency.

Second, as a substitute for gelatin, chia is the BOMB. Do you know what gelatin is? It's the stuff in Jell-O and puddings and so on that's derived from collagen. Collagen is the stuff being shot into celebrities faces to make them look younger so that's probably where you've heard about it, but it's naturally found in skin, ligaments, bones, and tendons and you render it out by...boiling it. Seriously, it's true. Jell-O is artificially coloured boiled pig skin and cow skulls. Yummy! Who's hungry?

No, that's disgusting shit and you shouldn't be eating it. You think they make sure the skin is all nice and clean before they boil it? HA HA. If that doesn't sound like some insane Hannibal Lecter type shit to you, then perhaps you deserve what you're eating.

Sidebar: I'm not a fan of things with Jell-o and pudding-like consistency in the first place. It confuses me. I don't know how to eat it. Chew it? Swallow it? Gum it? Smush it through my teeth? No, just no, I prefer my foods to have a more defined identity, thanks. But, for those of you who ARE octogenarians and like that stuff, congratulations! Chia seeds are your new friends.

Back to pectin. I've been tinkering around with jams and marmalades for about two years ever since I spent Boxing Day one holiday with my Dad and friend Brenda trying to make calamondine marmalade. For the life of us none of us could remember/figure out what to use to actually make it JAMMY instead of a runny, sugary mess, and looking back...I have no idea why none of us Google searched it. (I blame the Cinzano day drinking.) Pectin was the answer as we've just learned (were you paying attention?) but since I'm always looking to add nutritional value to anything I make whenever possible, chia seeds STOMP pectin in that department--much like I fervently hope DMX will do to George Zimmerman in short order.

CHIA SEEDS: Fibre! Vitamins! Sustained energy! Superfood! You're not listening anymore and it doesn't matter; here's one way you can introduce it to your diet AND pat yourself on the back for making your own homemade jam. It's so easy and I guarantee it will impress the shit out of your overnight guest when you serve them homemade jam on waffles next-day. See: possible Valentine's Day Morning After breakfast. If you're lucky.

Raspberry Chia Jam
makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup finished jam

What You Need
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup raspberries (or blueberries if you want blueberry jam, or blackberries if you want blackberry jam, see how this works?)
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar, more or less, to your tastes

What You Do
1. In a small bowl, mix the chia seeds with the water and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then they'll look like this!

2. Then in a blender, Magic Bullet, or in a small bowl using an immersion blender, blend everything together. That's seriously it. No dicing, no cooking, no heat, nothing. NEVER have I had such a cool DIY project with so minimal effort. If only there were someone to impress on Valentine's Day morning.

Gentlemen! Now auditioning.
Posted on February 5, 2014 .