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.
I enjoyed this whole process so much ,that I badgered my friend Nethra ,into sending me lots of fruit from her trees.
These have a high water content and therefore do not last too long.
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 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 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 !