I was introduced to this gorgeous concoction by my first foodie friend Connie who gifted me a tiny jar of it many, many years ago, like Proust's madeleines the memories come rushing back everytime I open a jar and smell the perfume of the jam. It didn't last very long and was much too good to put on anything as mundane as toast or a scone.
Nope, this jam had to be eaten on its own, a little spoonful at a time so you could savour its full range of flavours, tart yet rich and exotic from the vanilla beans and rosewater. The fruit becomes candied and deliciously chewy as you bite down on each morsel embedded in the jam. The colour of the jam will depend on how ripe the fruit is and whether it's a yellow or red variety. Connie's jam was a dark red but mine is more orange in colour. I've tried this recipe with orange flower water as well and it tastes just as good.
Tamarillos can be horribly expensive, I've seen them cost more than A$2.00 each so I only make this jam when the price becomes more reasonable. The fruit can be tart and I must admit I've never tried a fresh one that tasted pleasantly sweet. I was surprised to find out that this fruit originates from South America where it is known as a tree tomato, I always thought it was from New Zealand where it is marketed as a tamarillo but the fruit is now grown in many parts of the world. If you cut it open, the structure does look remarkably like the insides of a tomato.
You will need to peel the fruit and scoop out all the seeds before chopping the flesh up. The seeds will stain but unlike beetroot juice, the tamarillo colouring will wash off your hands quite easily. You could leave the seeds in which will make the jam redder in colour and scoop them out during the cooking or tie them up in muslin and leave in the mixture until just before the syrup starts to thicken but I haven't tried this yet, I'm quite happy with the colour of the jam just as it turned out.
6 tamarillos ( I used 8 because they were cheap at the time!)
1 vanilla pod split in half
2 lemons juiced and then strained
2 teaspoons of rosewater or orange flower water (use less if you don't like the jam too perfumed)
2 cups of caster sugar (more or less, this will depend on the volume of cooked pulp)
2 small or 1 large sterilised jam jar (my two cups of fruit from 8 tamarillos yielded 1 and 1/3 cups of jam)
- Peel and de-seed the tamarillos and chop into small pieces.
- Put the chopped fruit into a heavy saucepan, scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod into the pan and add the pods themselves, fill with water until it just covers the fruit and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the fruit is tender and pulpy.
- When the mixture is cooled a little, measure the contents of the saucepan and for every 1 cup of cooked fruit measure 3/4 of a cup of sugar. 8 tamarillos gave me roughly two cups of fruit so you can add between 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar according to taste.
- Put the fruit (don't forget to put the vanilla pod back in if you removed it for measuring), the sugar and the strained juice of 2 lemons (roughly the juice of 1 lemon for each cup of cooked fruit) back into the saucepan and heat until it is boiling. Boil at a moderately high rate, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened slightly and sets when you spoon a little of it onto a cool plate. This means when you put a blob onto a plate and wait till it cools a little, it will wrinkle when you give the blob a push. If it just smears the plate, it's not cooked enough!
- When the jam is set, take it off the heat and cool it for a few minutes before stirring in the rosewater or orange flower water. The jam may look a little too liquid but will further thicken when it cools in the jar.
- I like to warm my jars slightly in the oven before pouring in hot jam as I get anxious about the hot jam cracking cold glass. If you are an experienced jam maker with all the right equipment, please proceed as you would normally. This recipe stems from more rustic times before any of us had candy thermometers and sterilising kits available!
Connie's recipe uses only half a vanilla pod but I like to use a whole one, she also suggests removing the pod before you bottle it but I like leaving it in the jar as it is rather pretty to look at!
Happy Birthday Sue, enjoy!
Happy Birthday Sue, enjoy!