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Monday, July 6, 2015

Cherry Chia Crock Pot Jam

If you think making jam is complicated, think again.  
The crock pot does all the work for you on this one!

cherry chia crock pot jam (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Last week my friend graciously took in my two older kids for a play date in the morning while I was dealing with a million errands and a super-crabby 13 month old who was recovering from an ear infection and allergic reaction to her medicine {super fun, let me tell you}.

God bless her.

She also invited me to pick as many tart cherries from her tree that I wanted.  Friends, I'm telling you when they say a tree is loaded with fruit it is LOADED.  I'm pretty sure she could have invited every one of her friends over to pick and there would still be oodles left.

The kids helped to pick and we came home with three large containers full.  Now, if I were my mom, she'd make a fresh cherry pie, but since I'm not a big pie maker, I went another route.


Sweet delicious jam.

Problem was, two days later we were leaving for Wichita, KS for my sister-in-law's wedding, so I didn't have much time to get them all washed, pitted {what a dumb job} and taken care of.  I froze a big Ziploc baggie full for smoothies, but with the rest I made jam.

cherry chia crock pot jam (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

By the way, here is a family photo from the wedding.  Everyone was in it but me, so it was a bit frantic, but we all survived.  I will not lie, I was a bawling, blubbering mess seeing my kids walk down the aisle.  They were just so gosh darn beautiful, and cute, and way too old for my liking.

We made it back in one piece last night {8 hour drive} so I'm imaging today to be filled with tears and tantrums as everyone is sleep deprived and a bit out of schedule.

But, alas, let's keep chatting about this jam....

cherry chia crock pot jam (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

You will not meet a jam that is so simple.  Even my strawberry freezer jam, which is beyond easy, takes second fiddle on this one.

With just three ingredients {cherries, sugar and chia seeds}, you cannot complain.  Pull out your big crock pot and you're almost done!

Chia is an annual herb, and is grown commercially for it's seeds.  They are rich is omega-fatty acids and are typically a small oval shape.  Absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked, they develop a gel-like coating, giving it a distinctive texture, yet ideal for thickening in foods.

Since chia seeds have become so popular in recent years, you can purchase them at almost any grocery store, but they are also easy to buy online.  I have purchased several brands, but here are a few of my favorites.  {they last FOREVER, so do not worry about not having enough}.

cherry chia crock pot jam (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I'm kind of a chia freak so I also eat them in smoothies, on toast, in yogurt, basically sprinkled on anything, as they have no taste, just texture, so really what does it hurt?

And this jam - so good!  I had never made a jam without a pectin thickener, so I was pleasantly surprised as how thick the chia seeds made this jam.  This batch made one quart jar and one pint jar full of jam.  It can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or you can freeze in smaller batches {or even can if you are feeling ambitious}.

If the seeds - make you a bit nervous - as I know some people have texture issues, you can simply grind the seeds in a food processor or coffee grinder prior to putting into the crock pot.  But seeds don't bother me, so I left them as is.

Cherry Chia Crock Pot Jam

8 c. whole, pitted tart cherries
3 c. sugar
6 T. chia seeds

1.  Place all the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on HIGH for 1-2 hours.
2.  Remove the lid.  Carefully with an immersion blender or potato masher, mash up the cherries, leaving a chunky consistency.
3.  Cook an additional 2-4 hours with the lid off, allowing the jam to thicken, stirring occasionally.
4.  Ladel jam into jars.  This will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks.  Freeze for longer use {or can}.  The jam will thicken more upon standing.

cherry chia crock pot jam (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

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