I was going to skip this month’s Tropical Paradise Sugar High Friday, organised by Mary of Alpine Berry, not only because it’s been a busy month for me, but also because I didn’t have any inspiration for something tropical. The word tropical speaks to me of luscious and juicy fruits, white sandy beaches, gorgeous and lazy sunny days, refreshing dips in the ocean, exotic birds and the like. Last month, I really tried very hard to get into a summer mood, with my coconut and passionfruit sorbets, but it’s simply not working. Must be the continuing total and utter lack of summer here in the UK. I find myself craving comfort winter food, such as soup and mash, rather than ice creams and sorbets. So I decided to skip SHF this time.
But then a few things happened simultaneously. Mary extended the deadline by a week (I hope your back gets better soon, Mary); due to some serious miscalculation on my part, I had 2 punnets of strawberries left from another project; there was an overripe mango in my fruit basket that I didn’t know what to do with; and I had a few unexpected days at home - not sick enough to lay in bed all day, and feeling just about good enough to potter around in the kitchen a bit.
So I decided to try my hand at jam making. Something I’d never done before, but it was the only thing I could think of to use up all the fruit before it went really bad. I had a look at a few different recipes and kind of made it up as I went along. I added vanilla, star anise and black peppercorns to the strawberries and mango, and I also used pectin, just to make sure my jam would set. I also used way too much sugar (same amount as the fruit), because my jam turned out to be really sweet. Equal amounts of sugar and fruit is a fairly standard jam thing though, so maybe it’s just my personal preference, or maybe the mango was super sweet. I admit, strawberry jam is not very tropical, but the addition of mango and star anise makes it little bit more so - just good enough for a tropical SHF, methinks.
Oh, and the pV=nRT? That’s the reason a vacuum is created in the jam jars - something scientific with pressure and volume, particles and temperature. Just ask S. Me, I’m convinced it’s magic.
2tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp vanilla bean paste
3 star anise
7 black pepper corns
pectin (use as per manufacturer’s instructions)
clean and hull strawberries; peel and cube mango. Put in large pot with sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, anise and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Take off heat, stir in pectin and put in sterilised jam jars (I reused Bonne Maman jars).