No Sugar Added Fruit Spreads
One of my “go to” breakfasts is whole-wheat or multi-grain toaster waffles with some PB&J on top sprinkled with some chia seeds. Or sometimes instead of the store-bought I’ll make up a batch of whole-grain pancakes and freeze them for my own toaster pancakes. It’s a nice mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates that gets me going and carries me through the bulk of the morning to when I have some fruit for my morning snack.
What I don’t care for though, is all the sugar that is in the store bought jams and preserves, and personally I don’t want to use the ones made with artificial sweeteners. I’ve always felt that fruit has plenty of sweetness for me without adding sugar. I’m not much in to canning, but I figured there had to be a way to make a nice fruit spread of my own without adding sugar or other sweeteners to it, or even using pectin (which can have sugar in it as well).
I could make fruit butter, similar to apple butter, where you bake the water out of apple sauce to get it to thicken up, but that would get a bit time consuming so I wanted a different way to thicken it up. Well remember those chia seeds I sprinkle on top? Why not put those in the fruit? See chia, like flaxseed, is high in fiber. When you put them in water they start soaking up that water, binding it, making a sort of gel like substance. Gel… jelly… ? Why not? So I gave it a try.
My first batch was a pound of blueberries. I put them in a saucepan with the juice of one lime. I needed a little bit of liquid to get things going as I heated the berries up, and while I could have used lemon juice… I prefer lime, and I thought it their zing would complement the blueberries better. Depending on the fruit, I suppose orange juice would work well too.
I heated the blueberries up just to a warm simmer and let it go for a few minutes to soften up and start drawing more of their liquid out, then started mashing them up with a fork. You could also transfer it all to a food processor and CAREFULLY (this stuff is hot, mind you), pulse until pureed a bit. Then pour in to a medium sized bowl and add four tablespoons of chia seeds. Stir them in and let it sit to cool down. If you use blackberries or raspberries, you may want to strain them through a sieve to get the seeds out. The chia seeds end up looking like what you would get with such berries, but they are much more edible.
Between cooling off and the chia seeds doing their thing, you’ll get a nice bowl of spreadable fruit packed with vitamins, fiber and omega 3 action.
The 1 pound of berries I used made about two cups, I stored it in a mason jar in the fridge and it should last in there a couple months just fine. You could try freezing some as well.
This second photo is some I just made tonight using a 12oz bag of frozen cherries, only difference in the recipe is I only used 3 Tbsp of chia seeds… so when you make your own, figure about 1 Tbsp chia seeds for every 1/4 pound of fruit. I can’t wait until summer and farmer’s market time to try this out with all sort of different fruits. And if you ever stock up on fresh fruit when it’s in season (and cheap!), this can be a great way to use some of it up or as a way to save space in the freezer.