Learning is one of the tenets of Em’s Life After 40 as it really is true that we’re never too old to learn something new, and this week, I had the perfect opportunity.
Browsing my social media, I noticed a new story on one of my favourite Instagram accounts – Nourish Naturally, where the delightful Sophia offers her fun food therapy as she helps us eat smart, boost energy and relish life. On this occasion, she was sharing a video of her jam-making, but she didn’t even have to make it look easy as she only used three ingredients!
The whole process only took about 20 minutes and requires minimal kitchen equipment. So far, so sympathetic to my style of jam-making! As in – I don’t – I see it as a time, labour and equipment-intensive process & besides, they make it just fine at Robinsons, Waitrose & Bon Maman, so why would I?
Anyway, given I could boil up just enough to fill a small mason jar in one of my own regular-sized saucepans I decided to give it a try.
The 9yo loves his jam. A little too much.
Since he was a toddler, he’s been treated to both his grannies’ home-made varieties (made the traditional way, with home-grown fruit & jam sugar) & truly there is nothing better.
However, since jam was “the thing”, I’ve had a helluva job to persuade the little blighter to eat anything else on toast or between two slices of bread (unless it’s honey, chocolate spread or lemon curd). Only this year has he shown more than a passing interest in peanut butter but only as long as he can have it with jam (or jelly for the pbj aficionados reading!)
As you can imagine, this has been a bone of contention, especially since his appetite increased and he frequently eats four slices of toast and jam, not two! I would prefer him to embrace tuna, ham or cheese in his pack lunch box rather than just return them to me unopened.
With Mr J having type 1 diabetes, my under active thyroid and The 9yo’s brand new teeth, we used to buy sugar-free jams but since the latest wisdom on sugar being so damaging to health, but more specifically the high-fructose corn syrup frequently used to sweeten these sugar-free alternatives, I’ve switched back to regular jam, thinking we don’t eat that much, what harm? Despite his high activity levels, The 9yo’s excessive consumption does remain a concern – for his teeth alone, if not his general health!
I wondered if this amazing recipe might be the answer?
The fresh strawberries are a naturally low-sugar fruit, but are deliciously sweet if you buy the right variety, naturally contain pectin (required for the jam to set), are high in Vit C and a good source of folate.
The honey* (Sophia suggests raw, if you have it, but regular is fine) needs no introduction for its immune-soothing, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and being only 75% sugar, of which only half is fructose, (brown rice syrup even less), considerably reduces the added sugar content from 100 tsps per jar to just eight (I’m not including any naturally occurring sugar in the strawberries).
The chia seeds absorb the juices to help set the jam and make it look as if there are raspberries in it too! I’m hoping that as they’re full of protein and omega-3s The 9yo will now fill up before I run out of bread and they’ll help set us up for our busy days when we’re back to school in Sept.
It has to be a win-win.
You can find the recipe over at Sophia’s Facebook page but in essence you’ll only need 500g of washed, sliced strawberries (that’s the labour-intensive bit!), 3tbsps of honey and 2tbsps of chia seeds. You will need to soften the strawberries over a medium heat, stir in the honey and when the mixture starts to bubble at the sides pop in the chia. Stir continuously (more labour!) for just 10 minutes and pour into a sterilised** glass jar. Seal it and leave it to cool down to room temperature. It will then keep in the fridge for a few weeks (but I doubt it will last that long!).
The Taste Test
I won’t lie to you – this was never going to be as sweet as shop-bought regular jam so The 9yo was a little disappointed, but it really doesn’t taste any less sweet than most sugar-free versions I’ve tasted from the supermarket. I dare say a jar made with the honey Sophia advised would be even sweeter than my rice syrup version & we will probably try that next time.
*Note the NHS advises not to give honey to children under one year old as it contains bacteria that could lead to infant botulism.
**To sterilise jars, simply wash in hot soapy water and rinse clean. Place wet jars on a baking tray and pop in the oven (pre-heated to 180 degrees) for about 20 minutes. About all the time it took me to prepare the strawberries and cook the jam actually!
With thanks to Sophia Cannell at Nourish Naturally for the recipe.