From Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Day, my family has “fallen off the wagon,” so to speak, by eating way too many sweets! To get us back on track, I’ve been taking a look at several different diets, including the Paleo Diet, to see if it is an eating plan that we can live with. I did some research to see if jams are Paleo, and these are my findings.
Preserves, including jams and jelly, are only considered Paleo if they are made with a natural sweetener such as honey or agave nectar. Even the thickening agent is Paleo approved since most preserves are thickened with fruit pectin, which is a natural product made usually from citrus fruits.
But, as the family jelly maker, an important consideration is whether jam or any type of preserve is Paleo. Below, I will tell you everything you need to know about what is in jam and other preserves so that you can find out whether you can eat it or not on the Paleo Diet.
What Are The Ingredients In Jam And Preserves And Are They On The Paleo Diet Approved List?
- Fruit – The main ingredient in jam and preserves is fruit, which is one of the staple food items of persons on the Paleo Diet.
- Sweetener – Even though refined sugar and other processed sweeteners would not be appropriate for the Paleo Diet, if a natural sweetener such as honey or agave nectar was used, I see no reason to believe that the jam or preserves made with that natural sweetener would be a deviation from the Paleo Diet.
- Acid – Since acid is one of the required ingredients to make jam or preserves, the addition of lemon or lime juice, a natural source of acid, would certainly fit the Paleo Diet requirements.
- Thickener – Fruit pectin, either homemade or commercial, is a natural product made from fruit and would not violate the requirements of the Paleo Diet if it were not for the fact that it must be processed in some way to extract the pectin from the fruit. The only thickeners that could be used in a natural state would be Chia Seeds and homemade pectin made with apples, and they would certainly fit the requirements of the Paleo Diet.
If you are on a Paleo Diet and would like to have jam or preserves, my recommendation would be to make your own homemade version by either using very sweet fruit and leaving out the sweetener entirely or by using honey or agave nectar to sweeten and by adding Chia Seeds or homemade apple pectin as a thickener.
How Would A Person On The Paleo Diet Serve Jam or Preserves?
There are two main ways that people consume Paleo jams and preserves:
- You can spread it Paleo bread, pancakes, or biscuits which are made with flours such as tapioca or coconut flours which are alternatives to wheat flour.
- You can use it as an ingredient in sauces for meat or vegetables.
The Bottom Line
As it is very difficult, if not impossible, to find a commercially prepared jelly, jam, or preserves in the stores that would be Paleo friendly, my recommendation would be to make your own refrigerator or freezer jam that could be served with your Paleo-friendly bread. The jam would be fast and easy to make, and you have control of the ingredients that go into the jam.
Listed below under Related Topics are a couple of recipes that would be Paleo friendly, and you can even enlist the help of your family to make the jam or at least do a taste test so that you are creating a homemade product that the entire family can be invested in.
A Quick Paleo Recipe For Homemade Refrigerator or Freezer Jam
- 2 cups prepared Strawberries (washed, trimmed, and chopped)
- 1/2 cup Honey
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
- Place strawberries and lemon juice in a Dutch oven or other pot (not aluminum), and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat, and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently and skimming off foam. Use a potato masher to mash the fruit while it is cooking.
- Remove from heat and add Honey and Chia Seeds.
- Let stand for 5 minutes until thickened.
- Pour into prepared jars, wipe jar rims and affix lids, and set on a towel to cool.
- Once the jam has cooled completely, place in the refrigerator, ready to use for up to 2 weeks, or store in the freezer for up to 3 months. If frozen, let thaw completely in the refrigerator before serving.
Preserves Appropriate For The Paleo Diet
Fruit Preserves Sweetened with Honey
- 5 cups prepared berries of your choice
- 1 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Place berries, honey, and lemon juice into a medium or large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour into jars and affix lids and either process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, or let cool and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
Preserves sweetened with honey and processed in a boiling water bath should keep for several months in your pantry, but after 8 to 10 months will begin to darken. This change in the color of your preserves will not affect the taste, but the color will no longer be as appealing as when it is freshly made.
Is Commercial Jam Approved For The Paleo Diet?
The only commercial jam that would be appropriate for the Paleo Diet are jams that list only fruit in the ingredients list. A good example would be the jam made by a company called “Spread the Love.”
Are Commercial Preserves Approved For The Paleo Diet?
The only commercial preserves that would work for the Paleo Diet are preserves that list only fruit in the ingredients list.
What Is the Background of the Paleo Diet?
The basis for the Paleo Diet is to stop eating any type of processed foods and to return to the eating habits of our ancient ancestors who were hunters and gatherers and only ate lean meat, nuts, berries and other fruits, and vegetables. They ate only the foods they found growing wild and the seafood and animals they were able to harvest within their geographic area.
It was only after our ancestors stopped living a nomadic life and settled down that they started farming and added grains to their diet.
The modern diet is making us overweight and causing many chronic illnesses such as cancer, and as people are becoming more aware of how foods are affecting their lives and their health, many are embracing the Paleo Diet as a way of counteracting the negative effects of our eating habits.