starfruit on toast

Star fruit preserve

My mother was an avid bonsai enthusiast ! Her adorable bonsais sprouted mandarins , cherries and on occassion even a star fruit. That was when ,as a little girl , I first saw one. I always thought them as being more decorative rather than delicious. who doesn’t love to see those pretty star shapes on a platter ! A visual feast with very little effort.

Over the years ,people who had star fruit trees in theri garden would send us a few and the kids and I would happily eat it at breakfast with a sprinkling of sugar. This one time however ,I received not a few but a hefty bushel of fruit. Early on a week day morning , I just stared at the overflowing bags,not knowing what to make of it ! My foggy brain had to step out of ‘school mode’ and focus on a plan. The first thing on my mind once the kids were firmly ensconced in their respective places of education ,was to call and profusely thank my aunt ,Krishnaveni Varadaraj ! Her expectations that I would definitely make something good out of it ,was a challenge that I was determined to face happily ! Pickling was not an option ,as summer was creeping on us and these instant pickles were not ideal at present. That led to the sweet path…ohhh a JAM …”BING” went the light bulb ! Not having made one with star fruit before , I just relied on a basic jam technique and it actually turned out quite scrummy ! The aromatics can be changed ,vanilla or star anise can be substituted for cinnamon. You can even use white sugar ,I just prefer using an organic jaggery as I feel the taste is so much richer and has a sort of caramely depth.

Choose fruit that are semi ripe rather than overripe.

 

Trim the edge off the ridges with a sharp knife.

Trim the edge off the ridges with a sharp knife.

I enjoyed this whole process so much ,that I badgered my friend Nethra ,into sending me lots of fruit from her trees.

Starfruit fresh

 These have a high water content and therefore do not last too long.

 

Star fruit preserving

The mixture goes from runny to sticky caramel

It tastes great on some whole grain or rye walnut bread paired with some salty cream cheese. I could eat it happily for breakfast or tea time ,almost every day !!!

The cooled preserve

The cooled preserve

The lemon juice adds that much needed acidic hit and also acts as a preservative. However the tartness of the star fruit gets masked by the caramel ,but we don’t really mind as it retains a nice squidgy consistency which we love. Having whole fruit in your jam or a preserve is so much more delicious than the gelatinous puree’s that are commercially available !

The first batch !

The first batch !

The only thing which needs to be strictly looked into is the sterilisation of the bottles. A 20 mts in a medium hot oven or an hour in direct sunlight will do. Ensure that once sterilised ,a finger doesn’t go in accidentally.The process takes up the whole morning and then a bit of the afternoon ,so do plan for it. Shut yourself out of the world ,play some music and make jam !

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Instructions

  • 1. Clean the star fruit by trimming the outer ridges. Give it a thorough washing to ensure that no dirt is lodged in between.
  • 2. Cut it into the pretty slices that look like stars!
  • 3. Using the tip of your knife blade ,remove all the pips.
  • 4. Place in a large ,roomy pan.
  • 5. Add the water and set on low heat ,covered.
  • 6. After about 10 to 15 mts check if the fruit have softened.
  • 7. Turn off the fire and add the cinnamon stick ,the jaggery and the lemon juice . Using a big wooden spoon ,like in the fairy tale books ,give all the ingredients a good swirl through.
  • 8. Turn back the flame to low and watch until the mixture starts to boil.
  • 9. Keep stirring every now and then.
  • 10. Keep a close watch ,after about 30 minutes ,it should start looking a bit more sticky rather than runny.
  • 11. Dip in the wooden spoon and watch the syrup drip down ,if it is runny ,leave it be.
  • 12. If it is syrupy and forms a sticky string ,then just let it bubble for another 5 mts and take it off the flame. The mixture should be bursting into little bubbles and hugging the sides of the pan and coating the fruit.
  • 13. Once it has cooled if you find that it needs to be thickned ,do not fret,just return it back to the hob for another 10 minutes or so. This is a very forgiving recipe and jam making should be a happy task ,free from any worry !
  • 14. Once cooled ,ladle into sterile and dry glass bottles...make sure you leave out the cinnamon stick.

About Chef

Shanthini Rajkumar