Saturday, September 3, 2011

Five jars for the bin

I needed some fresh ginger for my fried rice the other day, so before I started cooking, I headed down to the shops at Edgeware - or what's left of them. Having been forced out of an earthquake-damaged building some months ago, our intrepid vege man doggedly continues his business from a tent-like structure set up in the carpark. With the competing supermarket across the road now demolished, and customers going out of their way to support such a determined individual, I suspect his business is doing better than ever.

Feeling that I ought to buy more than just a tiny chunk of ginger, I looked around to see if there was any fruit I might want. That's when I saw that he had tamarillos. I'd been looking at tamarillos for a while, knowing that I should make tamarillo jam (p228) while they are in season. They'd mostly been quite expensive though, so Edgeware Fruit and Vege's bags of second-grade tamarillos were exactly what I needed.

The following night, I brought home the cooking apples which were the only remaining ingredient. I set about blanching, skinning and chopping the tamarillos, and putting them in a large pot with the the peeled, chopped apples and some water.

It took quite a while to reduce the fruit to a pulp, during which time I decided I would need to transfer the jam to a larger pot when I added the sugar. So I dug out my stock pot, and when the fruit was nicely pulped, I transferred it cup by cup, as I needed to know how much pulp I had.

The next step was to add an equal amount of sugar to the pulp, along with a little lemon juice, and then bring the whole lot to the boil. It's supposed to take about half an hour to reach setting point, so I set a timer and went about doing other things, returning to the stove for the occasional stir.

I'd had the lid on the pot, hoping that would help keep the jam at a brisk boil as described in the recipe. It certainly did that - at one point, the jam overflowed, oozing down the side of the pot and under the element. I acted quickly, turning off the gooey element and moving my pot to a clean one, then ran to the lounge and took down the smoke alarm before it started making a racket.

From that point, I left the lid off. Towards the end of the 30-minute cooking time, I tested it for setting point, and it seemed to be ok. I took the pot off the heat and transferred the jam to the jars I'd prepared. As I poured out the last of the jam, I saw that there was a large scorched patch in the bottom of the pot. Gingerly, I tasted a little jam from the side of my jam funnel: I could taste a slight burnt flavour, but couldn't decide if the jam itself tasted burnt, or if my tastebuds were just reacting to the smoke still lingering in my nostrils from the earlier jam-under-element incident. I set the jam aside for further tasting.

This evening, I opened one of the jars. The jam is deliciously dark and fruity-looking in appearance, and has set to a nice consistency. It's just a pity that it tastes like charcoal. I couldn't even swallow the mouthful I took - it tasted even worse than the vegetable soup I burnt. So unfortunately, my beautiful-looking jars of tamarillo jam are for the bin. Oh well - maybe this'll teach me to be more careful!

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