Açaí berries have a special place in my heart - after all, I have made thousands and thousands of açaí bowls at The Fresh Press. I have explained what açaí is so many times I could probably recite it in my sleep.
"It's a small dark purple berry that comes from a type of palm tree in the Amazon Rainforest. The berry itself is about 80% seed, but the remaining fruit packs a punch. It's considered a superfood due to it's high nutrient density, strong antioxidant properties, concentration of omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, and a wide spectrum of other nutritional benefits (like what?). It's great for sustained, long-lasting energy due to the absence of sugar and high level of essential fatty acids. Some people describe the taste as a mixture of berries and chocolate."
Oh, and it's pronounced ah-sigh-ee. Yep, 4 letters and 3 syllables. Go figure!
The açaí that I use is unsweetened, which I prefer because I'd rather be the one in control of how much sugar I use, but it often comes sweetened with cane sugar and guarana (another Amazonian fruit). You can find frozen açaí puree at health food stores, some supermarkets, and I've also seen them at Trader Joe's. Another option is freeze-dried açaí powder, which you can find more easily or order from Amazon (how ironic for a fruit from the actual Amazon).
If you've had or heard of açaí, it was likely in the form of an acai bowl, which is kind of like a thick frozen smoothie bowl, the texture of soft-serve ice cream. They're typically topped with granola and fresh fruit, but now you can find them at smoothie and juice bars with dozens of toppings to choose from! They are a staple in Brazil, but have become incredible popular in the US and other countries over the past few years. You can also blend açaí into smoothies, or do what I did here and make a jam!
All I used was frozen blueberries, one pack of unsweetened frozen açaí, and chia seeds. No sugar added!
Açaí Berry Chia Jam
1.5 cups frozen berries of choice
1 pack of frozen açaí puree
1/4 cup chia seeds
Optional: 1-2 TBSP honey, maple, or other sweetener, if desired
In a small saucepan on low to medium heat, melt the berries and açaí puree. Once they are warm, use a fork to mash the berries into a pulp. Add the chia seeds to the berries and stir together. Leave the on heat for about a minute while stirring to make sure everything is combined, then turn off the heat and let the mixture set for at least 15 minutes. The chia seeds will absorb the liquid and the mixture will thicken into a jam. Scoop into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Enjoy on toast, pancakes/waffles, oatmeal, frozen desserts, or a PB&J sandwich!
-If you don't like the texture of gelled chia seeds, you can process them to a powder before adding to berries, or process the whole mixture once combined. They will still be just as porous and thickening.