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When it comes to fruit jam, the kids learn the versatility and nutritional benefits of crafting their own fruity concoctions. First and foremost they learn the difference between jelly, which uses fruit juice, and jam, which uses the whole fruit. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into jam-making, using strawberries, exploring three distinctive methods all healthier than store-bought strawberry jams.  We will use chia seeds, tapioca starch, and the reduction technique. Say goodbye to store-bought jam loaded with white sugar, corn syrup, or even high-fructose corn syrup. Let’s create your own healthier alternative.

The Sweet Symphony of Strawberry Chia Jam

The first method we’ll explore is the Strawberry Chia Jam – a simple method that adds a host of health benefits. Chia seeds, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, contribute to a jam that’s not only delicious but also nourishing. This recipe calls for simple ingredients such as real berries, chia seeds, and an optional touch of maple syrup or coconut sugar for sweetness. The natural sweeteners provide a healthier alternative to the high fructose corn syrup found in many store-bought jams.

Studies have shown that chia seeds may aid in heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The incorporation of vitamin C-rich fresh strawberries further enhances the jam’s nutritional profile, promoting a boost to your immune system. As an added bonus, this strawberry chia jam pairs exceptionally well with peanut butter, creating a delectable spread for toast or a unique topping for ice cream.

Tapioca Starch in Homemade Strawberry Jam

For those seeking a jam with a jelly-like consistency, the Tapioca Starch method offers another option. By using tapioca starch, a natural thickening agent derived from cassava roots, which may be a healthier alternative to corn starch, since corn has been genetically modified.  A roux is made with the tapioca starch and added to simmered juicy strawberries to thicken into a jam.  

With this method I often recommend no added sugar, as the tapioca starch is a high glycemic index and adds a little sugar to the jam.

Reduction Method: An Artful Symphony of Freshness

The third approach involves the reduction method, a process that intensifies the flavors of fresh strawberries by simmering down the water content. This method, requiring only fresh strawberries, a touch of maple syrup or agave nectar, and a splash of fresh lemon juice, highlights the natural sweetness of the fresh fruit without excessive added sugars. Simmered over medium heat until it reduces by half.

​Freedom Kitchen Kids learn all 3 methods, as shown in this video.

Healthy Food = Healthy Life

By creating your own homemade healthy jam, you take a conscious step towards informed decision-making regarding your diet, but the kids learn that this is still a sweet treat and that too much sugar is detrimental to their health. University researchers and medical doctors alike have emphasized the importance of reducing sugar intake to promote heart health and reduce the risk of high blood pressure. 

Comparing the Methods

The main difference between the three methods lies in the texture, sweetness, and nutritional content of the resulting jams. While the chia seed jam emphasizes healthy fats and fiber, the tapioca starch method offers a jelly-like consistency with only natural occurring sugars. The reduction method, on the other hand, provides a thicker jam but often still requires a bit of sugar to thicken.  Sugar is a natural preservative. 

As the food industry continues to flood the market with processed foods, making your own jam becomes not only a healthier choice for you and your loved ones, but a creative way to use berries, in season. In addition to learning how to cook, kids should learn how to preserve food. 

Whether you prefer the nutty richness of chia seed jam, the elegance of tapioca-starch-infused jelly, or the pure essence of the reduction method, the healthiest jam is the one you craft with simple ingredients and a dash of love.

Homemade Healthy Strawberry Jam

The recipe card includes a video showing the 3 methods discussed.  Incorporate a homemade jam recipe into your weekly meal prep, experiment with various natural sweeteners, and use organic strawberries (they are #1 on the Dirty Dozen, so please use organic when it comes to strawberries).

Video Lesson: How to Make Jam 3 Ways

Recipe for Chia Pudding Parfaits, coming soon

Recipe for Strawberry Muesli, coming soon

You might also like Strawberry Cake Pops

Strawberry Jam

Homemade strawberry jam, healthy, low sugar using 3 methods
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Saucepan
  • Potato Masher


Method 1: Chia Seeds

  • 3 c Strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 c Chia Seeds
  • 1 t Lemon juice

Method 2: Tapioca Starch

  • 3 c Strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 T Tapioca starch, to make a roux
  • 1 t Lemon juice

Method 3: Reduction Method

  • 3 c Strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 c Maple Syrup
  • 1 t Lemon juice


Method 1: Chia Seeds

  • This method can be done with or without heat. Simply mashing the strawberries with a sqeeze of lemon juice and adding the chia seeds is sufficient. Heating for a few minutes will soften the strawberries and extract the juices quicker. The chia seeds will absorb the extra water and create a "gel" in a few hours. Store in the refrigerator.

Method 2: Tapioca Starch

  • This method requires a "roux" with tapioca starch. While water could be used ot make a roux, you can use the lemon juice or some of the strawberry juices to avoid adding more water content to your jam. A roux is a paste made from the tapioca starch that you will add once the jam is reaches a boil.
  • Once boiling, add roux, stirring constantly, as it thickens. Don't over cook. Once thickened take off the heat and bring to room temperature and store in the refrigerator.

Method 3: Reduction Method

  • Place strawberries, lemon juice and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to avoid the syrup from burning.
  • Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 more minutes, stirring and scraping occasionally to prevent burning. Reduce by half.
  • Allow the jelly to cool and thicken in the refrigerator.



Lemon is a natural preservative and will help your jam last longer. I have made it without the lemon juice, if I am using it right away.  
Every semester in cooking class we make jam and use it a various ways, making chia seed pudding parfaits, cherry jam bars, thumbprint cookies, and more.  


Calories: 224kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 7mgPotassium: 589mgFiber: 10gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 45IUVitamin C: 192mgCalcium: 141mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast
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About Lisa Jendza

Cooking is the competitive advantage for your child. As a former IT Consultant turned health coach my classes are an experiential process to teach critical thinking. The courage, confidence and creativity derived from my classes will impact all areas of their life. Freedom begins and ends in the kitchen.