Answers would be in the head but I couldn’t write them faster on the paper to be able to get out of that hot and stuffy examination hall. Sweat would trickle down my back, breathing would get heavy and the desperation to finish writing the last paper of my final term exams would be immense. Not just because its all going to be over and school will be closed for the next two months but also because I could see those packed bags at home, that day long train journey to Nani’s (grandma) house and those countless mango trees loaded with ripe, juicy mangoes in her huge garden.
Summers would come and off we would go to Nani’s to see all of my uncles, aunts and countless cousins. All of us wouldn’t meet for the whole year but the moment we would see each other it felt like we has to pick from where we had left last summer. My mom’s native house was almost a small mansion with big doors after doors, tall staircases leading into huge halls and rooms as big as our whole house. A few of those rooms were just stores, godam, we could call them and during summer those godams would be filled with mangoes. So many of them that the aroma would fill the whole house and also you from within.
For the next two months we would eat mangoes in all shapes, sizes and forms. Pickled with spices, pureed to make aam panna reduced to make jams and jellies and dried to make fruit leathers. I would be so overwhelmed with all of it that after a few days I would stop eating my favorite fruit through out my stay there. My brother never made that mistake and would relish their sweet and juicy goodness as much as he could. Now I wish I would have done the same because fate brought me so far away from those mangoes that now how hard I try I can’t get that taste here in the foreign land. But fate did bring me closer to and introduced me to many new flavors which I hope is helping my daughter make her own memories.
When we moved to a new house last year, along with it we got a sweet gift of some fruit trees two of which are greengage tree. I had never before heard of the fruit and it was only when the fruits loaded the trees I started doing research I found that they are from the plum/plout family. I along with my few dear friends who couldn’t escape receiving a weekly delivery of a box of greengages, was greatly surprised at how unbelievably juicy and delicious this fruit is. The outer skin is tangy and the inside is sweeter than sugar. Both the trees have been graced with fruits more than we, our neighbors or our friends could handle. So I have been doing the same what my aunts at my Nani’s place would do to their mangoes. Cooking them to whatever shape, size and form I can. I have canned a lot of them in the past few weeks so today sharing two recipe with you. One of Greengage jam with fennel and black pepper and the other of Greengage Jelly. I started with approximately 8 quarts of chopped greengages. First I used the juice to make the jelly and then the remaining pulp for the jam. You can always discard the pulp if you do not want the jam or reduce the juice for longer time if you do not want to make the jelly.
Recipe for Greengage Jelly:
8 quarts ripe greengages/green, yellow plums
4 1/2 cups cane sugar (This fruit is really sweet so asked for less sugar but if you are using some other less sweeter fruits then you might want to increase the amount of sugar)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 pouch (1 3/4 oz) fruit pectin (no sugar added)
Wash the greengages thoroughly. Core and cut one into 8-10 slices. If you like you can blanch and then take the skin off of the fruit. I was just too lazy to do it and it just helped the jam to be tangier which we love.
Transfer the sliced fruit into a large, non reactive vessel which has a thick bottom, a wide mouth and is not very deep. This should keep the fruit from crowding and would help an easy distribution of heat throughout and that in return reduces the cooking time. I used a vessel similar to this.
Turn on the heat and let the fruit simmer until they are soft and cooked well, for about 30-45 minutes. The fruit I used was really ripe and juicy so I did not have to add any water but if yours is firm you can just about 1/2-1 cup of water.
Strain the fruit through multiple layers of cheesecloth, a sheer white cotton piece of cloth or a strainer.
Transfer the juice into a pot again. Save the pulp for the jam.
Save 1/2 cup of sugar and add the rest to the the fruit juice. Mix well and turn on the heat. Then add rest of the sugar mixed in pectin.
Stir everything well together and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Skim the foam formed on top.
Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-30 minutes. I follow these steps to check whether my jelly or jam is done.
Once it passes the “doneness” test, turn the heat off, add lemon juice and mix it well. Let it sit for 5 minutes before transferring into washed, dried and warm mason jars with air tight lids. I always let my jars run through a dishwasher cycle before I use then for canning.
Recipe for Greengage Jam
Leftover pulp from the above recipe (Approximately 3 1/2-4 quart) Please keep in mind that this is cooked and reduced fruit. So if you are starting from scratch then I suggest you start with approximately 5 quarts of fresh fruit.)
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 tablespoon crushed black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
Heat oil in a thick bottom, non reactive pan preferably with a wide mouth (as linked above).
Add fennel seeds and cracked pepper. As they sputter add the fruit pulp with sugar.
Mix well and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 45 minutes- 1 hour.
To test if your chutney is done, take some in the back of your spoon and let it stay out in the air for about 10-15 seconds then run a finger through it.
Turn the heat off, add lemon juice and mix it well. Let it sit for 5 minutes before transferring into washed, dried and warm mason jars with air tight lids.