Artisan jams and jellies, canning, and cooking with preserved foods.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Dragon Fruit-Mint Jam
I took a detour on my way home from work on Friday to visit Fentiman Farms in Escondido. I've been patiently waiting to make perfectly-Autumnal blood-orange jelly out of persimmons. Unfortunately, I arrived only to find that persimmons aren't ready yet due to last week's rainstorm. My disappointment disappeared, however, as I looked around the store and saw amazing avocados, chemoyas, giant yams, perfect pomegranates (at only $1.25/lb - yeehaw!), an assortment of other fine vegetables, large and small jujubes (?), and these crazy creatures:
Dragon Fruit. What ARE these? The young girl that worked in the store sliced one open for me, and I felt like I had just met the Easter Bunny. This tasty, unique, exotic beauty made my eyes pop out. Thought to originate in South America, Dragon Fruit have been cultivated all over the world, and proliferate in Southeast Asia. The taste, flesh, and seeds resemble kiwi fruit, but perhaps not as sweet. They come in red and white varieties (the flesh is either red or white). They are about as large as a pomegranate, and have a soft, spongey, pink, scaley skin.
To pick the sweetest ones, look for the brightest pink skin, otherwise they are not very sweet. You can easily slice through the middle of a dragon fruit, and the flesh peels easily from the skin, so the preparation for jam, jelly, and other fun desserts is pretty quick and easy. I tried a piece with a little bit of honey...tasty! But I enjoy the mellow flavor of the fruit itself as well.
I scoured the internet looking for recipes for Dragon Fruit Jam or Jelly, and the few I found, although they looked beautiful, required ingredients that I don't have access to (agar-agar, isn't that used in chemistry experiments?) or just don't know what they are (pandan leaves?). They also didn't seem to be recipes designed for canning, but rather for desserts
you would eat shortly after making them.
I designed my own recipe:
Dragon Fruit-Mint Jam
1 lb. peeled, cubed Dragon Fruit (about 1-1/2-2 DF)
1 cup sugar
1 box pectin
5-6 fresh mint leaves, slightly muddled
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. water
Red food coloring
Place fruit, water, lemon juice, and mint into preserving pan. Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stir in pectin and make sure pectin completely dissolves, 10 minutes. Remove mint leaves. Add sugar slowly, stir until dissolved. Bring to a roiling boil, add 2 drops of food coloring, then turn off heat,
continually stirring. Skim off foam if necessary. Fills the equivalent of 20 oz. I filled 2 half-pint jars and one 4-oz jar.