Sugar-Free Vegan Budget Jams!
Sugar-free vegan budget jams are the answer for those who love jam but need to reduce their sugar consumption with the added bonus of saving some money.
Chia seeds are used to thicken up the jam and agave syrup to sweeten. These jams contain much less sugar than traditional jam. But are full of natural, fruity flavour.
The fruit I used to make these jams were all ‘yellow-sticker’ finds.
I absolutely love finding reduced fruit bargains as they are great to use for all sorts of traditional fruit puddings and jams.
The recipes included are for blueberry jam, grape jam and a plum jam.
Although you could substitute the fruit for your favourite type.
Or even use frozen fruits which are usually cheaper than fresh, especially when out of season.
Sugar Free Vegan Budget Jams
A few weeks ago I purchased about 6 punnets of strawberries that were reduced to pennies, and my daughter decided to make strawberry jam.
However, I was a tad dismayed by the amount of preserving sugar used which amounted to over a kilograms worth! Plus the cost of the preserving sugar cost more than the strawberries!
The strawberry jam was delicious but I just didn’t like the idea of all that sugar. I wanted way more fruit in my jam than sugar!
I did some research and discovered that chia seeds could be used to replace the sugar. Chia seeds thicken up the stewing fruit and provide that jam like consistency.
But even better, the chia seeds add a fair amount of fibre, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and valuable minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Check out the BBC Good Food post about the nutrition benefits of chia seeds if you’d like more information.
Most supermarkets stock chia seeds, and places like Home Bargains in the UK often stock these seeds at a much cheaper price.
To sweeten the jam I decided to use agave syrup/nectar as this was what I already had at home.
I started with 2 tbsp of agave syrup added to the prepared fruit, and then added a few more tbsp’s if the fruit was quiet sour. But if the fruit is naturally very sweet no more syrup is needed.
But really any sweetener would do. If your vegetarian, flexitarian or omnivore then honey would be fine. Maple syrup would be preferable but does tend to cost a lot here in the UK.
Or even white sugar if that’s all you have at home, at least the jam will have less sugar than normal.
The best thing is that the sweetener acts to bring out the natural flavour of the fruit, rather than saturating the fruit with excess amounts of white sugar.
I am so excited to have discovered this method of jam making, and currently experimenting with new flavours of jam.
Easy and quick jam making method!
The chai jam method is so quick, you can have a jam stewed in less than 20 minutes, depending on your choice of fruit.
Although, the jam does not have enough sugar to preserve for longer term storage.
So, I store my jam in sterilised glass jars in the fridge, and it generally keeps for 2 weeks. Nonetheless, the jam generally does not last 2 weeks in my household!
To store the jam I use a mixture of Kilner and recycled jars.
To sterilise the jam jars I use the method described on the Good Food website.
Sugar-Free Vegan Budget Jams Recipes
Blueberry Jam Recipe
This recipe makes a normal jam jar worth of blueberry jam.
- 2 cups of blueberries or roughly 260 grams
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp agave syrup or your own choice of sweetener
- Wash blueberries. Place in a medium saucepan.
- Add sweetener and bring to boil on a medium-high heat.
- Turn heat down to medium and stew blueberries for about 5 minutes
- Blueberries will burst on their own and shouldn’t need too much encouragement to stew to a jammy consistency.
- Stir frequently and bash fruit with a wooden spoon if necessary.
- After 5 minutes add the chia seeds and mix well.
- Stew for about 2 minutes, stir frequently.
- Taste your jam. If you’d like it sweeter then add a little extra syrup/sugar.
- Pour into your sterilised jar. You could always use a different heat proof container if you don’t have any jars. Just bear in mind that blueberries might stain plastic.
- Add a little greaseproof disc of paper on top of the jam in the jar. Seal the lid shut.
- The jam will thicken more as it sits and cools. When cool store in the fridge.
Plum Jam Recipe
This recipe makes a normal jam jar worth of sweet and tangy plum jam.
- One punnet of plums, about 10 individual plums (when de-stoned and chopped I had roughly 355 grams or 2 1/4 cups of plum pieces)
- Six tbsp’s of agave syrup (my plums were quite tangy and sour so I needed to add extra agave/ for sweeter types of plums less sweetener may be required)
- Two tbsp’s of chia seeds
- Wash, de-stone and chop up the plums.
- Add to a medium saucepan along with the agave. Stir.
- Bring to boil over a medium-high heat. Add 3 tbsp of water if the plums don’t give off much juice. I had to add the extra water.
- Stew for roughly 8 minutes. Stir frequently. Mash up the plums with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
- Add the chia seeds and stir well.
- Stew for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Taste your jam and add more sweetener if necessary. I started off with 3 tbsp of agave then increased it to 6 at this stage.
- Pour into your sterile jar or container.
- Store in fridge when cool.
Grape Jam Recipe
I used green grapes for this jam and realised my mistake when I added the black chia seeds! It did not look too appetising despite tasting great! If you don’t mind how the jam looks then use green grapes, but if possible I would use purple/red grapes next time. This recipe made about 2-3 normal sized jam jars worth.
- Roughly 850 grams of seedless grapes/ which is about 5 1/2 cups/ or nearly 2 normal sized punnets (my son ate some of the second punnet which was why I didn’t use 2 full punnets!)
- 5 tbsp agave syrup
- 5 tbsp chia seeds
- Wash, de-stalk and half the grapes.
- Place in medium saucepan with agave syrup
- Bring to boil over medium-high heat.
- Stew for about 20 minutes over a medium heat, bashing with wooden spoon or potato masher once the juices start to escape.
- Stir frequently. With my grapes lots of grape juice was released but if yours don’t then you can add a few tbsp’s of water.
- During cooking if the grapes are slow to come to the boil place a lid on your pot for a few minutes.
- Add the chia seeds and mix well.
- Stew over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness, add extra syrup/sugar if necessary.
- Decant into your sterilised jar or other container.
Sugar-Free Vegan Budget Jams Ideas:
Here are a few ideas for using your fruit chia jam, such as:
- Add a dollop to porridge
- Toppings for Bircher muesli or overnight oats
- Enjoy with plain plant-based yogurt to make a fruit yogurt
- Add a tbsp to your smoothies and milkshakes
- Use to sandwich vegan cakes together. Especially good spread on my Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake recipe.
- Dollop some on top of muffins/cupcakes
- Spread on plant-based scones and tea/fruit breads
- Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Spread on top of a vegan cheesecake. Double yum!
- Drizzle on top of pancakes, crepes and crumpets
- Spread a layer under a vegan fruit pie. All you’d need for this is a pastry base, add a layer of chia jam and top with lots of rainbow coloured fruit. Even better if you serve with some vegan cream!
- Make vegan jam tarts
- Perfect for any recipes that require jam
- Use in savoury dishes. For example the chia plum jam is sour and sweet so would be an amazing accompaniment to plant-based meat alternatives. Or on crackers/sandwiches with some vegan cheese.
- Enrich gravies and sauces with plum or berry jams
Finally, experiment with different fruits, fruit combinations, herbs and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and rosemary, vanilla/orange/almond/lemon extracts, and fruit zest and juice such as lime, lemon and orange.
Just remember that generally 1 cup of fruit needs 1 tbsp of chia seeds.