In continuing my series on chokecherries,
I was all set to turn that juice (click here for instructions: The Wild, Edible, Beautiful, Chokecherry) into regular ‘ol jelly, which would’ve been delicious, I’m sure. And I still have some frozen juice I may do that with. But the idea of taking my nutritious chokecherry juice and adding six cups of sugar to it to make jelly just didn’t sit right with me. I’ve been trying to cut out most sugars (except for naturally occurring fruit sugars and the occasional piece of birthday cake, which around here is about once a month or more- there’s no way I’m living without birthday cake, let’s not be ridiculous) and having great success. I didn’t want to wreck that. Enter the Chia Seed.
This little seed has become a staple in my pantry. I won’t go into all the benefits of the chia- you can read them here: Why Chia Seeds are so Good for You , for yourself. I throw them into energy balls, protein shakes, and bread. Because of their tendency to become gelatinous when mixed with liquid, it can be used in puddings- no need for flours or cornstarch. And it also can be used in jellies and jams to replace the sugar and pectin needed to firm them up.
Pectin is naturally occurring in most fruits and some fruits even have enough pectin to gel on their own when cooked. Some examples of these are granny smith apples, lemons, orange peel, and currants. Chokecherries supposedly have a large amount of pectin when picked early enough as well. But I didn’t want to chance it, so I helped the process along with chia seeds. Not to mention, store-bought pectin is often filled with lots of chemicals and artificial ingredients.
I loved the end result of this sugar free, chia seed, chokecherry jelly, and will be making more of my jellies and jams this way in the future. The seeds soften up and make the jelly more jam-like. They aren’t nearly as hard as something like raspberry seeds would be in jam- the chia seed once cooked is very soft and easy to chew.
Of course I needed to sweeten it somehow. When cooked down to juice, the chokecherry loses it’s unpleasant astringent quality, but it remains unsweet as well. I used stevia to sweeten mine because it’s calorie-free, and contains no chemicals (this is the brand I like and find to taste most like sugar (affiliate link)
but you also could use honey or maple syrup.
Here’s the recipe!
To make sugar free, pectin free, jelly you will need:
3 cups of juice (I used chokecherry)
Six TBSP of chia seeds
Six TBSP of stevia (with a different juice, more or less may be needed)
That’s all! This recipe will fill approximately three pint sized jelly jars.
Combine juice, chia seeds and stevia all together in a saucepan. Simmer, while stirring almost constantly until the mixture thickens , about 5 minutes.
Pour into jars and keep in the refrigerator.
That’s it! It will firm up a bit more as it cools. You could add more chia seeds if you want it really firm, but I found this to be a good consistency.
As far as water bath canning, I’m sure it can be done like any other jelly but didn’t try it myself. If any of you try it with this recipe, I’d love to hear your results!
In our final chokecherry debut, I’ll teach you how to make yummy syrup for your pancakes and ice cream! Stay tuned.