Thursday, February 08, 2007
The Answer to the Ranch Chef's Mystery Special:
Popsey has remarked that I shouldn’t even bother writing about cooking or recipes anymore, because now everything I make will be tainted with thoughts of gopher. But we do have to do something with the little suckers! (Just kidding).
Thanks for your creative guesses to my quiz, but you were all wrong—it was not eyeballs, or anything gopher-related. It was kiwi jam.
I had a cooking milestone recently when I decided not to be afraid of this mysterious substance called “pectin,” and made jam for the first time ever. I don’t know why exactly I’ve had this resistance to pectin. On wikipedia it is described as a “thickening agent." How appetizing. It sounds like something that would be stored in buckets in the back of a truck along with fertilizer and other bomb-making materials. But I eat jam all the time, and even jello occasionally, so it’s obviously irrational to think about it that way. Anyway, it seemed harmless once I found it in the little packets on the grocery store shelf.
A neighbor harvested his kiwi vine this winter and dropped off a huge box of the fuzzy fruits at our house over the holidays. Apparently kiwis grow very well up here. They’re great to eat fresh, but there were so many the two of us would have a hard time eating them all before they rotted. I found a recipe on the internet with very few other ingredients (always a plus) and altered it slightly because of course I didn’t even have those few ingredients and didn’t want to run back to the store. I decided to make freezer jam instead of going through the whole canning process, and came up with this:
3 cups peeled and chopped kiwifruit
1 can chopped pineapples
1 packet pectin
4 cups sugar
Combine kiwis, pineapples, and pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
Return to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
Ladle hot kiwifruit jam into clean jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, cap and freeze jars (or refrigerate enough to use for the next couple weeks).
Yield: about 4 half-pints
It was very easy. The hardest part was peeling the kiwis, which made my fingers fall asleep and I started worrying that I might have a rare allergy to kiwis that would cause finger paralysis. But the feeling came back when I was done.
The result? Despite its appearance of greasy-grimy-gopher-guts, it turned out excellent. I’ve never tasted kiwi jam before, but am here to tell you it is awesome. We’ve been eating it on toast every day, and everyone who has tried it has been surprised and impressed. Popsey of the creative palate has been putting it on all sorts of random things like chicken, and even had some on a horrible, rubbery calamari steak we had last night (I threw mine away). I think it’s a little too sweet to be used as a condiment like that, but as jam on toast...yum.