Friday, April 26, 2013

In A Jam

Occasionally we will find a diamond in the rough here on Pinstrosity. Lucky for me, today was one of those days! Kasia (pronounced ka-sha) found herself with some  a lot of strawberries!! Here is her story, complete with an experiment and her own conclusions! We love these kind of emails! She has put in the work and figured out how to tweak the pins she used to her own "taste" (pun intended).
So from here I will turn it over to Kasia!
The Original(s)
Kasia used two pins, and experimented with both, check it out!
*Let me preface this post by saying that both of the above recipes worked wonderfully for the original bloggers, they liked the jam and shared the recipe on their respective sites. This is on Pinstrosity because someone tweaked the recipes of each of these and it didn't turn out how they were expecting.*
The Pinstrosity

"...To the meat of my submission... or should I say berries.
I love homemade jam. I love the sweet, I love the fresh, I love that it doesn't take too much time and that it tastes oh. so. delicious. Growing up I'd make homemade strawberry and raspberry freezer jam all the time, but when I moved to college the only time I'd get some is if I stole it from home. Now I'm clear across the country from my home and am severely craving fresh strawberry jam. 
One of the local grocery stores was selling strawberries for a $1. Yes, I kid you not, a whole pound of strawberries for $1. I bought 5 pounds. It was almost everything my husband could do to keep me from running to the baking goods aisle to find the pectin. Without even looking at the price, I grabbed one box and continued on my merry way excited for all the jam I was about to make. 
That night I got started, but come to find out I had WAY more strawberries than the box called for. As I thoroughly enjoyed a slice of bread smothered in fresh homemade strawberry jam I reviewed the receipt and found that the pectin I bought was $4.19 for 1.75 oz! I was trying to justify how delicious the jam was with how expensive it was to make. I was expecting it to be significantly less than store-bought jam, but it added up to be just about the same price...just millions better tasting.
I was telling a friend from church about it later and she got really excited as she explained her solution: to use chia seeds as the thickening agent in jam. I had never even heard of chia seeds before. She told me the recipe was simple: 1 cup of mashed berries, 1 tbsp of chia seeds, and sugar to taste. She said that as the chia seeds dissolved in liquid they make this jelly like stuff, with it being cheaper and easier than using pectin, and I should get the same results. So I looked it up.
There are a lot of slightly varying recipes but everyone said they loved how it tasted, that it was so much more healthy*, and that the seeds weren't even noticeable in the jam. So I concluded that I needed an experiment to test what everyone was saying.
*because you could sweeten it with artificial or natural sweeteners to taste, and you weren't using pectin--I don't know why pectin gets a bad rap, it is in every fruit, just found in more quantities in citrus pith and pulp...maybe it's because it gets processed? I don't know. Anyway.
I got about a 1/4 cup of chia seeds from the bulk foods section in the local grocery store (picked up some cheaper pectin for just in case) and went home to test them out. I followed these two recipes...kind of.  
Now before you say uh-oh and know where this is heading I'll explain my tweaks. 1. I just used strawberries, 2 I just used regular granulated sugar (because I like it, a lot, ok?) 3. I didn't add any water because I wanted the chia seeds to just soak up the strawberry juice. 
First, I added sugar to the berries so they would macerate. Pic 1
Then I added the chia seeds. Pic 2
Then I turned the heat on the one I was cooking and simmered it really low for about 10 minutes. (I read that chia seeds burn easily and I wanted to avoid that at all costs) 
I kept on comparing them and the cooked strawberry chia seed jam had gelled up nicely in 10 minutes, but the raw jam was still pretty watery after an hour. Pic 3 (cooked jam) Pic 4 (raw jam)
Then for taste test: 
I immediately realized I don't like cooked strawberry jam. I felt a lot of the flavor of the fresh strawberries disappeared. 
Also, the texture was like raspberry jam, meaning I was picking seeds out of my teeth for hours. 
This morning I tested the jams again. Both had continued to thicken, which was good for the raw jam, but the cooked jam was more like a paste. Both were still seedy so I guess they don't completely dissolve like I was told. 
So, to conclude my experiment: chia seeds work for thickening jam, if you don't cook the jam it will take longer to gel, you can choose how much sweetener to use instead of having to follow the directions for pectin, and if you don't mind having seeds stuck in your teeth, it is a more cost effective way to do it. But I think I'll stick to buying pectin. 
I think I'd rate it on a GCT scale of a 2, because it worked, but not to my preference or expectation. Either way, I have LOADS of strawberry jam to enjoy now."
So there you have it! Her experiment results! I am sure I have a bunch of Jam-ers out there, what's your input?! Let us know!
TGIF Pinstrosipeeps!!!


  1. if you added some more liquid, I bet the chia seeds would have dissolved.

  2. I love your experiment, but I kept imagining you with lots of seeds in you teeth! LOL

  3. If you're cooking strawberry jam you don't need to add anything to make it set. There is enough pectin naturally in the strawberries, you just have to cook it longer than you would if you add pectin. You also don't have to use a specific amount of sugar if you're not adding pectin. But you do have to be very careful about watching the temperature. When the jam gets to 220 degrees you want to stop cooking. I ended up cooking mine too long the first time and it set up so hard I have to microwave it to be able to spread the jam. Live and learn. :) Luckily I only had enough strawberries to make two jars of jam that time.

    I have also made jam using gelatin to make it set, either flavored or plain. When using flavored gelatin you do have to adjust for the sweetener in the gelatin or you get really, really sweet jam. (I've done that, too.) I've experimented with quite a few different ways to make jam without pectin mostly because I like my jam with less sugar than pectin requires. It has nothing to do with health, just my taste preferences.

  4. I never use pectin when making strawberry jam. I just cook them for what seems like forever. Sits up awesomely, spreads great.

    Here's the one I use:

    I use a potato masher for a stirrer, being careful to keep whatever is at the bottom of the pot moving. I keep mashing the berries whenever I see a chunk.

    I also give the strawberries a freeze, since that helps break them down even further.

  5. Chia seeds do not dissolve. They are surrounded by the gel like coating. (That's what makes them so great as chia pets- you know. Ch-ch-ch-chia?) they are super nutritious though! If you wanted to try the raw jam with them again, I'd recommend grinding them up in a coffee grinder or blender that can handle something like that. (Think flax seed). That way, you get the gel effect without the raspberry type seed effect. :) good luck


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