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Business News/ Opinion / Blogs/  HUNGER GAMES: Twist and jam
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HUNGER GAMES: Twist and jam

Summers are the best time to make jams and preserves. This year home chefs are adding twists to this familiar spread

Monika Manchanda’s fig, honey and paprika preserve. (Monika Manchanda’s fig, honey and paprika preserve.)Premium
Monika Manchanda’s fig, honey and paprika preserve.
(Monika Manchanda’s fig, honey and paprika preserve.)

The best way to spend your weekends this summer is by making jams. No, it’s not an arduous task for the matronly, says food blogger Nandita Iyer in her blog. “These jams don’t take more than 30-45 minutes each, including fruit chopping time, especially because we’re making only a small quantity at a time," writes Iyer who, in the past month, has made batches of strawberry and balsamic, fresh figs with vanilla pods, cider vinegar and black pepper. “Availability of fresh fruits is a big reason. Also, fruits that have a short season in India, like strawberries and fresh figs, it’s nice to preserve them as jams," she adds.

When Bangalore-based food blogger Monica Manchanda found www.towness.com, the online portal where she gets her grocery from, was stocked with strawberries, she ordered a few kilos. “I saw them everywhere," she says about the fruits that were begging to be made into a preserve. “Summer time is jam time," she adds.

Manchanda has started this summer by experimenting with strawberries. “I made one batch of balsamic strawberry jam, which is a well-known combination," she says. For the second, she tried a basil and jalapeno strawberry jam. “Since basil goes nicely with tomato, which is a bit sweet and sour like strawberry, I figured this might work," she adds.

The possibilities are numerous and you can experiment. For Hema Mahesh, who makes jams and preserves under the label Nature In A Bottle, summer is the most exciting time. “It means mangoes and so many fruits that you don’t get the rest of the year," says Mahesh, who started making her own jams because she detested the overly sweet variety in the market. Mahesh takes experimenting to the next level and has been attempting a coffee jam for months now. Nature In A Bottle has combinations you would have never thought of: apple chilli jam, plum fig and Thai chilli chutney, among others. You can see her wares here.

There is broad guideline to jam making, these women tell us. Pick fruits that are as blemish-free as possible. Citrus fruits like oranges have high pectin content, the characteristic that makes them jelly like and strawberries have relatively low levels of it. Read up about the pectin levels of the fruits and other ingredients (chillies have no pectin) before you throw them together. You might have to add some artificial pectin. Experts like Mahesh extract pectin from other fruits to add to jams made from pectin-free ingredients. The best part about making jams is that you don’t need to strictly follow the recipe, like with baking. Use your instincts and experiment.

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Published: 16 Apr 2013, 06:07 PM IST
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