Our wholesome and delicious blueberry jam recipe puts a health-enhancing twist on a classic favourite with a generous scoop of chia seed powder. Mildly nutty in flavour, it offers an impressive number of benefits to your wellbeing. These range from supporting your nervous system to improving muscle health.
From Ancient Rome to modern homes
Jam has been around, in one form or another, for centuries. Although now a common sight at breakfast time, it originated as a practical – and tasty – method of using sugar to preserve fruit for longer.It’s unclear exactly when people began making jams. However, there are mentions of fruit preserves made with honey in the Apicius de re Coquinaria, an ancient cookery book dating back to Imperial Rome.(1) During the Middle Ages, jam was something of a luxury due to the high cost of sugar. This meant people often enjoyed it on its own, rather than spreading it on bread or using it in other recipes.(2)Around the 19th century, the combination of industrial development and lower sugar prices meant that jam became more widely available and more affordable. Here in the UK, the Women’s Institute famously made enormous quantities of jam during the first and second world wars to boost the country’s food supplies.Nowadays, jam is a popular spread for everything from toast to scones. As well as following this recipe for blueberry jam, you can make preserves with almost any fruit you like. That includes classics such as strawberry and raspberry, in addition to quirkier choices such as pineapple and peach. Making jam is therefore a great option for using up wild fruit when you pick more than you can eat!
Thanks to their wellness-boosting status, sweet taste, and versatility, blueberries have become increasingly popular in recent years. From baking them in muffins to topping off a breakfast bowl with them, there are endless ways to enjoy these delectable fruits. One simple yet delicious option is to use them in our blueberry jam recipe!Most of the blueberries we tuck into are native to North America. In Canada, First Nations peoples used to make blueberry puddings, as well as blueberry syrups to relieve coughs.(3) Meanwhile, Native Americans called them ‘star berries’ because the blossom end forms a distinct five-pointed shape. Today, farmers grow and harvest both wild (lowbush) and cultivated (highbush) blueberries all around the world.
A real feel-good food
One of the reasons for the blossoming popularity of blueberries is the fact that they’re now lauded as a particularly nutrient-rich food. Although in some cases this sort of talk is exaggerated, it appears that blueberries genuinely live up to the hype.It’s thought these small, round berries have the highest antioxidant levels out of the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.(4) Antioxidants help to protect the body from free radicals, which can cause cell damage and trigger certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease.Blueberries are rich in a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which is what gives them their gorgeous dark blue-purple colour. Scientists also believe that it’s responsible for many of the fruit’s health benefits. For example, studies suggest anthocyanin may protect your heart and reduce the risk of heart attacks, while also lowering blood pressure.(5)(6) It might additionally help to improve insulin sensitivity, aiding with the management of blood sugar levels.(7)It's not just your body either – another significant benefit of consuming blueberries is that it can boost your brain function. For instance, research indicates that the superfood may help to improve memory and slow down cognitive decline as we age.(8)In addition to anthocyanin, blueberries contain a range of key vitamins and minerals that contribute to our health. These include iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K. Each of these is important for building and maintaining the strength and structure of your bones. Blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, which is crucial for skin health and a strong immune system.(9)As you can see, tucking into a delicious blueberry jam recipe is good for both your health and your tastebuds!
Introducing our blueberry jam recipe
Blueberry jam has long been a favourite thanks to its gorgeous purple colour and scrumptious taste. Some people worry that creating your own fruit preserves is tricky, however this is a super easy blueberry jam recipe to make.To begin with, you will, of course, need some blueberries! Either fresh or frozen is fine, which means you can make this blueberry jam recipe at any time of year. Don’t worry about missing out on nutrients when using frozen berries. Most are frozen at their peak and retain their health benefits. If opting for fresh berries, try to choose ones which are firm, round, dry and a vibrant blue colour. Avoid those that are shrivelled or soft. You’ll notice that our blueberry jam recipe calls for both lemon zest and lemon juice to balance the flavour. This ensures that in addition to a hit of tangy citrus, you get a bit of added texture and depth. The juice also helps to provide structure to the jam thanks to its acidity. Feel free to experiment with yuzu, orange or lime as a refreshing alternative!The best blueberry jam recipe includes a little something for sweetness, and here you have the choice between using honey or agave nectar. Maple syrup is also an option, although you might find it a bit heavy. Agave nectar is a great pick for vegans, plus has a delicate flavour that goes perfectly in jams.Lastly, what truly makes this blueberry jam recipe special is the addition of our organic chia seed powder. This is a fantastic way to thicken the mixture and add a mildly nutty flavour, plus give your jam a serious nutrient boost. More on that later!
Can you have a blueberry jam recipe without pectin?
In many a blueberry jam recipe pectin is listed as a key ingredient. It essentially acts as a gelling agent, sort of like a plant-based alternative to gelatine. Because blueberries are not naturally high in pectin, you might assume that you need to use some when making them into jam. However, that’s where the chia seed powder comes in.Chia seeds are an extremely effective way to thicken up a mixture, whether it’s a jam, pudding, or anything in between. That’s because they’re highly absorbent and can quickly form a gel. This is also part of the reason why ours is such a quick and easy blueberry jam recipe to make.In addition, pectin tends to work best when used with actual sugar rather than a more natural sweetener such as agave nectar. Substituting it for chia seeds or chia seed powder results in a healthier recipe overall, because you don’t have to rely on processed sugar.Speaking of health, despite their small size, chia seeds are rich in an impressive amount of nutrients – as you’ll see below. Just another reason why this is such a superb choice if you’re after a recipe for blueberry jam without pectin!
Chia seeds: tiny but mighty
Chia seeds are extremely small – approximately 2mm by 1mm – oval, and usually black or grey in colour. They come from the salvia hispanica plant, which is native to Central and South America. Although the seeds have only become popular in this part of the world relatively recently, they have a very long history.People have been cultivating chia as a food source for hundreds of years. It’s believed the seeds were a staple part of the Mayan diet, and even offered to Aztec gods during religious ceremonies.(10) Now, chia seeds have built up a reputation as tiny nutritional powerhouses offering all sorts of positives. So, do they deserve all the hype? The answer is a short and sweet ‘yes’.The list ofchia seed health benefits is both long and impressive. Firstly, they’re a fantastic source of plant-based protein, which is important for the muscles and nervous system. The seeds are also high in fibre, helping to keep your digestive system healthy and assisting with weight loss. Moreover, they’re high in antioxidants, which fight against harmful free radicals that can damage our cells.Chia seeds are additionally rich in key minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which are vital for keeping bones strong. Some research also suggests they can help to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar management, which could be especially useful for those with diabetes.(11)Furthermore, chia seeds are a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. These have a positive impact on your cardiovascular health, for example by helping to lower blood pressure and decrease inflammation.(12) As a bonus, omega-3s can nourish your hair and scalp to leave you with luscious locks!All of these benefits mean a blueberry chia jam recipe is even more nutritious than one with just blueberries!<