It is strawberry season here in Newfoundland and Labrador and that means the u-picks are open. Getting out on a nice summer day, with the kids in tow, picking strawberries (and…blueberries, and…raspberries, and…bakeapples, and…partridgeberries) is one of my favourite things to do. It is also one of my most cherished childhood memories with my Mom and Grandmother, I hope that it becomes the same for my girls.
It’s also a fun way to get some exercise, and trust me, squatting picking berries will challenge you more than air squats ever could! And, of course, we return home with a bounty of sweet, sunshiny red goodness.
Berrypicking always leads to that, now what? question. There are of course lots of options from clean gluten-free baking, to individual freezing for enjoyment in my smoothies in the middle of January, to eating them right out of the bucket, but one of the best things to do is make jam. Jam? Yup, Jam!
I can hear you now, but I don’t eat bread any more (watch for some great GF-baking recipes in the coming months) and I am refined sugar-free. No more jam for me! Well, good news, you can make what my kids call, and eat by the spoonful, Healthy Jam! I LOVE devouring it mixed into greek or goat yogurt as a clean treat. Nom, nom, nom!
You can find info on u-picks in the province at Root Cellars Rock (this is a great site for more info on eating local, foraging, and growing your own food) as well as some great tips on getting the most out of berry-picking. If berry-picking is not for you, of course you can pick up some at various markets and roadside stands during the season. Still not for you? Well, on your weekly Costco trip you can get a large clamshell of organic strawberries, and go from there. We like Lester’s Farm Market, I grew up with the owners, so I love supporting their farm, it just makes those strawberries that much sweeter! Check their Facebook Page or call 709-747-3276 before you go. Open days and times are dependent on a number of factors from weather to how much the berries have been picked over. Campbellton U-Pick is worth the trip for raspberries, currants and blackberries. If you live close by, lucky you! But wherever you live there is likely a u-pick somewhere close by, or better yet, get out into the wild, it won’t be long now and there will be blueberries everywhere!
So you have your strawberries, now for the magic ingredient…Chia!
Yep…chi, chi, chi, chia!
You might remember chia from these commercials, or maybe you were actually the lucky owner of a Chia Pet! So jealous! I was never allowed to have one, or Sea Monkeys for that matter. What a deprived childhood I had 😉
You can get chia from a number of places, however a health food store or a trusted brand from the health food section of the grocery store is a good idea, as there can be quality issues with some brands and chia grown in certain areas. Meagan and team sell great quality chia at Whole Health on Water Street and at their location in Corner Brook, check out their Facebook page here.
You can also order local, yes local, chia online from http://sednanutra.com/products or purchase it in various locations throughout the province. Sedna Nutra, is a nutraceutical company based in Markland, Newfoundland and Labrador, in the former Markland Cottage Hospital (1936-1985). Sedna Nutra, founded by Dr. Hilary Rodriques in 2007, is a sister company of Rodrigues Winery. It is awesome to see this type of health company here in our province.
There are many benefits to eating chia seeds on a daily basis, and we will be talking about this amazing superfood here on an upcoming blog soon. For now, here are 10 reasons to add chia to your diet http://blog.thrivefoods.net/2009/07/chia-seeds-top-10-benefits.html
So now that you have your strawberries and your chia seeds, it’s jam-making time!
The following recipe can be modified to use your favourite clean eating sweetener – organic unpasteurized honey, organic agave syrup, brown rice syrup, maple syrup or even stevia. Note: If you use stevia you will need to adjust amount to suit your taste, 2 tbsp would be awfully sweet! I would recommend you use liquid stevia to avoid any sweetener lumps. You can also modify the 2 cups of berries to make your favourite types of jams, some examples include blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb (1 c strawberries;1/2 c rhubarb), peach, raspberry, white or black currant, blackberry, bakecapple, partridgeberry, etc. Have fun with it, get creative in the kitchen and tell us what turns out to be your favourite concoction. The pictures featured are of our strawberry-rhubarb jam.
2 c diced berries or other fruit
½ c water
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp natural sweetener (I like to use organic unpasteurized honey)
1 tsp lemon juice
Over medium heat stir together berries, water, chia seeds and sweetener, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Add lemon juice, stir and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, again stir often. Once reduced and starting to thicken remove from heat and allow to fully cool.
Jam will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool spoon into jars and either freeze or refrigerate. If freezing leave room in jars for jam to expand when frozen. If you know how to can, this jam can be canned to allow for shelf stable jam. Prepare to be licking the spoon often 🙂
Hope you enjoy the fruits of your labour as much as we did!
Until next time,
Up Next Week: We will be reviewing our weekly visit to The St. John’s Farmer’s Market. You can check out the vendors that will be at this week’s market here. There will even be local sea salt for sale at this week’s market! I can’t wait. Don’t forget your reusable mug, shopping bags and food containers. Hope to see you there!