Celeste Fig Jam (Raw + Sugar-Free)
“Fall [is] the time when everything bursts with its last beauty,
as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
— Lauren DeStefano
Our southern autumns may not be as beautifully striking as those we grew up with in Wisconsin, but the upshot is an extended growing season that keeps the kitchen well-stocked with freshness. It presents the best kind of dilemma: how to preserve the harvests before they fade.
The little Celeste fig tree out back, despite its battles with the greedy grasshoppers and ornery orb-weavers, produced marvelously this year, and almost outpaced my abilities to eat, preserve, and eat, eat some more.
Gather a heap in the morning, fill up again after supper — no lie! Time was literally of the essence. So not only is this recipe quick, it’s basic: figs, chia seeds and lemon juice blitzed in a food processor. No pectin, no sugar, no cooking, no canning.
The secret? Moisture-loving chia. Once the ingredients are combined and allowed to sit, the seeds glom onto every last drop of liquid, swelling up and softening to form a lovely spread perfect to slather on thick slices of warm rustic GF Dutch oven or semolina toasts, vamp up a simple grilled cheese or PB&J, or swirl into porridge, yogurt and smoothies.
There’s a subtle sweetness, a delicate background citrus note, plus a pleasing little crunch of fig seeds now and again. This jam is similar in ease to my Simplest Blueberry, but comes with the host of superfood benefits from chia seeds — a nutrition boost in a jar.
What’s in it for me?
A member of the mulberry family, figs have been enjoyed since biblical times. At only 110 calories, no fat or cholesterol, and virtually no sodium, one serving (about 3 medium figs or 150 grams) provides almost 10% of your daily needs for calcium, vitamins K and B6, potassium, and several of the trace minerals. Figs also have nearly 2 grams of fiber per fruit, keeping your blood sugar levels stable and digestive system happy.
Research indicates that figs are a source of polyphenols and the flavanoid quercetin, both of which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may offer protection against degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Chia seeds add an abundance of nutritional goodness as well. One ounce (a scant 3 Tbsp) has roughly 11 grams of dietary fiber, accounting for almost half and almost one-third of the recommended amounts per day for adult women and adult men, respectively. In conjunction with all that fiber, 4 grams of protein per ounce provides sustained energy and promotes satiety to help ward off cravings.
Chia seeds are also an excellent non-dairy source of calcium, as well as magnesium and potassium, providing nearly 20% of your daily needs for the former and about 30% each for the latter two — all essential nutrients for bone health.
When compared ounce-for-ounce, these little super seeds offer more omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon. Omega-3s play important roles in reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and minimizing cancer risk. These essential fats are also associated with skin health, elevating your mood, and improved brain health and mental clarity.
Did you know that, botanically speaking, a fig is actually hundreds of fruits, not one? Each of a fig’s seeds — and the surrounding flesh — is its own tiny fruit! Or how about that the hydrophilic (water-loving) properties of chia promotes hydration in your body, and makes the seeds an excellent replacement for eggs and binders in baked goods? OR that figs and chia are pregnancy power foods and may help boost fertility in women? They should both be considered superfoods if you ask me!
This rosy jam is as pretty and flavorful as it is simple. Make a batch to enjoy now while the figs are still ripe for the picking, or swap in other seasonal fruits as the season progresses, like persimmon, pear, quince, apple or even pumpkin!
Tell me… How do you use chia or figs in the kitchen?
- 1/2 lb small to medium-sized fresh figs (to yield about 1 1/2 cups), stemmed and quartered
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tsp fresh lemon zest, optional
- Combine figs and lemon juice in a food processor and puree. If you like a more textured jam, run the processor until there are still some chunks visible.
- Add the chia seeds, and, if using, the lemon zest. Pulse a couple times to incorporate. Taste; add more lemon juice, if needed.
- Transfer to a tightly-sealing jar and refrigerate 1 hour to set. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 4 or 5 days.
Because this is a raw jam, it is highly perishable and should be eaten within 4 to 5 days. I chose to keep the recipe small for this reason. If you have more eaters on hand, the recipe easily doubles or triples to meet your needs. (You could also halve it, if needed.)
+ Use orange juice (and zest) in lieu of lemon.
+ Try adding finely minced fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage, rosemary or mint for a more unique, savory jam.
+ Blend in a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, ground anise, and/or ginger. You can even try some freshly grated ginger or finely chopped candied ginger!
+ I tend to prefer my jams on the less sweet side. If you're not like me and feel the need to sweeten this, add either 1 tsp pure vanilla extract OR 1 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup.
+ + + +
p.s. I love hearing from you! Check back if you ask a question, because I’ll answer it here.
And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing. Thanks!