Who doesn't love jams? That sweet glossy drop on a freshly baked bread, wrapped up in a bowl of warm morning oatmeal, or just elegantly laid down on a very side of a pancake. Jam, jelly, marmalade - it all becomes handy when you wish for something fruity, sweet and maybe even delicately refreshing. And the best part is that you can have it all year-round.
I love putting jams on my wheat cakes. I love swirling them into a bowl of fresh cottage cheese, ricotta or yogurt along with some healthy grains, seeds and toasted nuts. And none the less, I enjoy them generously topped on a scoop of just churned vanilla ice-cream. Though, quite rarely I put them inside a cake, cookies or muffins. Simply because, personally to me, jam is made for straight-eating. Just like a peach at its very peak is supposed to be eaten raw, jam is also demanding the full attention on it's exceptional flavor tone. Someone might say that after boiling and getting all covered up in sugar fruits lose their trueness, but it's far from the actual reality. When you taste wine, you can barely taste that perfectly ripen grape that was hanging out for a wile somewhere in a middle of Tuscany. No, rather you get a taste-glimpse into that perfect combination of sun, wind, soil, a little bit of love and a long process of fermentation. Same goes for jam. It's not only a method to make your fruits last longer (which, actually, was initial aim at the first place), but it also is a great way to make them bloom in an absolutely different color palette. Strawberry jam does not taste like that scarlet berry you've just stolen from your grandma's garden. Rather it has its own unique punch encompassing the freshness, summer bliss, heat, sugar, and relatively long-lasting caramelization process. Change one of these items, and you'll get a different result. Not worse, just different.
But besides being totally in love with all kinds of jams, I'm also crazy about making them. To be more precise, that's exactly how I spend most of my summer evenings: watching the sunset setting into that bubbling pot while it slowly speaks the words of sweet temptation.
But when summer is not here (even the spring is not here yet) and fresh seasonal fruits are nowhere to be found, I might just end up experimenting with something/anything that a grocery store could offer. Like bananas, for example, which, by the way, are very suitable for jams. Being quite starchy, they quickly transform into a nice and thick jam, whereas the initial sweetness that they have ends up with a lesser demand for additional sugar (just as much as it's needed to preserve the fruits). Finally, bananas are very welcoming, which means that they are beautiful together with other fruits (apples, pears, lemons, limes, dates, figs, mangoes), berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) and things like coffee, chocolate, coconut, peanuts, almonds, mint or... basil. Yes, basil.
Especially, sweet basil whose highly aromatic leaves has a pleasant spicy taste of anise and cloves. Together with bananas and a delicate hint of lemon it creates a very subtle exotic treat that could cheer you up in a moment when the calendar tells you that it's April, but the nature decides to stick to a deep winter instead.
Banana Basil Jam
4 lb (2 kg) bananas, weighed with skins
1 medium lemon
1 lb (500 g) sugar
1/3 cup / 1 oz (30 g) fresh basil, roughly chopped
Peal bananas, crumble them and place into a medium saucepan.
Mix in grated lemon peal and juices. Add sugar and bring everything to boil.
When bananas start bubbling, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
As soon as jam begins to thicken, add basil and continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes.
Ladle the jam into clean sterilized jars, cover with lids and keep in a dry and dark place.
If you liked this, you would also like:
- Banana and Marrow Jam