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Image: Pearlyn Tham

Make Your Own Healthy, Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam With Only 3 Ingredients

I like jams – peach, pineapple, blueberry, blackcurrant, strawberry and lavender (yes, it’s a real thing). There’s something comforting about having a generous dollop of chilled jam on warm toast.

But most store-bought jams have ingredient lists as lengthy as a space shuttle manual. They are also full of sugar. Once, a friend recommended me a sugar-free jam which I ate happily by the spoonful, only to realise later in the day that the sugar substitute used in it was the best trigger for diarrhea.

So, I decided to make my own jam. The best part: you only need three ingredients for the simplest of homemade jams.

First, the fruit which forms the main bulk of your jam.

The best fruit has to be soft enough to be stirred and broken down in the pot over a fire so no to honeydew, guava and pineapple. But you’d also want a fruit that isn’t mushy to begin with because you want to end up with a jam, not a juice. So, papayas, oranges and bananas are out.

You’d want your product to smell and look good too because if even the commercial producers can’t make great formulas out of durians and mangosteen, you won’t have much luck doing that either.

You’ll also need a lot of pulp to work with so save yourself the trouble of having to peel and de-stone hundreds of longans, rambutans or grapes.

I settled for strawberries since they were in season and were relatively inexpensive. To make two 50ml jars of jam, I used about 40 strawberries.

Image: 123RF

The second ingredient in this recipe is chia seeds. Now, we know how nutritious this superfood is but not all of us fancy eating it in our oatmeal or over our salads. The easiest way to consume lots of chia seeds, I’ve discovered, is to add them to your jam recipe. In commercial jams, pectin is used to thicken them. But chia seeds do the job just as well as they expand and turn jelly-like when cooked. When paired with strawberries, chia seeds also look deceptively like strawberry seeds.

Image: 123RF

The last ingredient is honey. You can skip this if you have sweet-enough fruit.

To make your jam, wash the strawberries and put them in a saucepan filled with just a little water. Turn up the heat to cook the fruit thoroughly. When they have turned pale and squishy, add the chia seeds (you can put as much or as little as you like) and stir continuously.

This is the hardest part of the process: you have to keep stirring and pressing the mixture with your spatula to soften and blend everything into the right consistency. Add up to two tablespoons of raw honey towards the end of the cooking process. Once done, let the jam cool down before spooning it into glass jars and refrigerating these. Consume within three days.

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