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Going around the mulberry bush



In a pickle, no jam! ©Cookaroo
White. That was the colour of our school uniform. Purple. That's the colour we went back home with almost all through spring. It wasn't ink. Oh trust me it wasn't. It was shahtoot - or ripe mulberries. Mulberries that we would get the boys to pluck for us. Mulberries that we would eat during our PT classes. Mulberries that we'd squash into our pockets.

In class four, at 5 feet 2 inches, I was one of the tallest in my class. I'd be the one who'd stand on my toes to pluck the fruit for the rest of my friends. I'd be the one who stood at the back of the line. That lasted all of one year. By the time I was in class five, I was sent into the middle of the line - which is where I stayed for the rest of my school years, you see I'd only grown a couple more inches.

None the less, every spring, the shahtoot trees would be bursting with fruit and we'd be pining to eat the fruit. You had to be smart about it - the seniors were a lot more taller - so you'd have to try and get there before they came down the stairs. You also hoped that the PT classes were in the morning, that way you beat everyone to it. Except that the whole day, you'd be walking around with stained hands and if you were unlucky, stained shirts. If you stupid, however, and managed to step on the over ripe shahtoots, then your white tennis shoes would turn a ghastly mauve - which was terrible, coz you'd have to go home and clean and polish your shoes. 

Oh those were the days, I tell you. We didn't care if it wasn't washed. We didn't care if it other called it poisonous. We didn't care whether they were green, red or purple. Heck, we didn't care if we had to pick it off the ground. 

So when I found a carton of shahtoot at my grocer's the other day. Except these were the green ones, but man, they were sweet. I knew I had to buy some. But first I asked him why in the world had he stocked them. Arre people buy them quite happily, he said. How much for 250 gms, I asked? Rs 30. Oh! I could have had it for free. But what the heck I wanted them anyways.

Now you have to understand 250 gms of mulberries is a lot. A LOT. You can eat them as a snack by the handful for 2 days and still have leftovers. Which is why I decided to do something with them. And when I decided to do something to a fruit. It normally means making jam or a relish.

I wanted to eat my mulberry as a reminder of my childhood. I wanted to feel the taste and texture of the berries. So jam it was.

This is a very simple recipe - just 4 ingredients and it barely takes 20 minutes to make

Childhood in a jar ©Cookaroo
Mulberry Jam

Ingredients

150  gms mulberries/ shahtoot - I had green ones, go ahead and use red ones
50-75 gms sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp of pectin

Special equipment: a very cold small plate, a steel spoon and a sterlized jam jar

Method

1. Remove the stems from the mulberries and chop them. Heat a pan add water to the mulberries. Stir till they pulpy yet runny.

2. Add sugar and let the mix bubble through.

4. Now, is when the jamming process actually begins and you need to be watchful. So after about five minutes of bubbling through, check the mix by lifting your spatula, if it drips down it has a couple minutes to go. If it stays on the spatula, take the cold plate and drop a bit on to it. Take the spoon and draw a line between the two, if the line stays for a couple of seconds then you're done. If not, let it bubble for a couple more minutes. All in all this process should take you 10 to 12 minutes at the most.

5. Once the jam is ready, let it cool. Ladle in to a sterlized jam jar. Once cool, refrigerate.

Note: To sterlize a jar, wash it well with hot water, and dry. Heat the oven to the highest and put the jar into it for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit till ready to use. Also my jam was not pulpy enough so I ran it through my mini food processor 

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