Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

A moment of culinary genius, or utter disaster...it could have gone either way.

I arrived home from work last week to find that my sister had brought me a bag of kiwis.  I absolutely love kiwis.  I could eat them every day.  But this was a GIANT bag of kiwis.  At least thirty, maybe a little more.  My brother in law, Jeff, had apparently done some work for a local farm, setting up their network.  He refused payment because he just wanted to help them out.  So instead he got a big bag of kiwis, half of which they brought to me.

Several days later the bag is still sitting on my kitchen counter, mocking me.  What am i going to do with so many kiwis?  I was tempted to freeze them.  Just put one in with my morning smoothie.  But I kept procrastinating.  Why?  It felt like a cop out.  I really want to learn how to preserve my own food through canning.  But before I start that I feel that I should have something worth preserving.  My garden is still in the state of enough to get by, but not enough to preserve for winter use, so I have yet to do simple things like can stewed tomatoes.  So what I feel like I should be doing is perfecting my recipes for jams, applesauces, pickles, and so on.  So here's a chance, staring me in the face.  I've never made jam of any kind before, and I'm sure kiwi isn't easy.  It's 6:00 at night, I'm home alone with my 2 year old son.  It's dark out already.  It's raining...sideways.  My husband has our only car because he's working late.  So I'm going to have to make do with what is in the house.

As I make dinner for my son and I, I start to peel the kiwis.  By the time I have dinner on the table there is a mixing bowl filled with the beautiful green fruit.  So now I have to do something with them.  There's no way around it.  I squeeze and zest a lemon into the bowl.  The kiwis were nice and ripe, not tart or bitter at all, so I thought it could use this.  I let them sit for about 30 minutes while I went about doing dishes and cleaning up after the hurricane that is my son.  Then I started searching my cupboards.  I know that jam needs some sort of pectin, something that I've never had a need for and so don't have in my house.  But I thought that perhaps the addition of an apple could help with this omission.  Then  I threw in a little bit of organic sugar.  I know most jams call for quite a lot, but I thought the kiwis were sweet enough.  After the jam had been simmering for a little while I did add a bit more.  Perhaps 1/2 to 3/4's of a cup over all.  It seemed so boring to me though.  Something was missing.  I looked through my spices.  Vanilla...no.  Cinnamon...absolutely not.  Then I remembered my recent purchase from a new local spice shop.  Lavender Flowers.  I had put a small pinch of them in a vinegarette the other day but couldn't taste it at all.  So I poured just a bit onto my palm and rubbed them to break them into smaller pieces.  My hand hovered over the simmering pot for a moment.  This could ruin it.  All those beautiful kiwis rendered inedible with a turn of my hand.  And with that thought I dumped them in.  I gave it a while to cook before I tasted it, to give the flavors some time to meld.  When I did taste it I got nothing but kiwi.  I took out the lavender flowers again and crushed another large pinch, the same size as last time.  After I stirred it in I saw the label on the bottle: lavender flowers are very strong, use sparingly.  Oops!  I was pretty convinced that my jam was now ruined, but only one way to find out.  Thirty minutes later I dipped my spoon again, and was I surprised.  The flavors where very complimentary.  Was it culinary genius?  Well, not so much.  The flavors were wonderful, but even cool the jam just didn't set up the way I would have liked.  BUT, I now have my recipe...fix the pectin problem next time, but this is worth preserving.   

Views: 33

Comment by Richard W. Bender on February 20, 2011 at 12:52pm
I wrote an article on making herbal jellies for The Herb Companion Magazine, October/November 1990.


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