Okay, I was all set to go with a delicious Mango Chili Sauce that I canned up back in August. I said to the hubs, “Hey! the Can Jam theme for October is Chillies! I can just take a couple of snaps and write up a quick post. I’ve got October covered!” And then, I made a discovery. Guess what’s in season in South Florida right now. C’mon, guess! Oh. You saw the title of the post, didn’t you? Hmmph.
I’ll tell you anyway – Carambola! You look confused. It’s also called “Star Fruit”. Most folks have only seen them in a fruit salad or as a garnish. They’re very striking when you slice them and you’ve got a slice of fruit – shaped like a star! Cool, huh?
So, the hubs and I were at a favorite breakfast joint the other morning, when I glanced over at the muffin counter and saw a big bowl of carambolas with a sign that said “3 for $1.00″. When I went to pay the check (we’re very liberal, that way), I asked the owner, “How much for the whole bowl?” And we played the game of “How much do you want to pay me for the whole bowl?” “Well, do you have anymore in the back? Or is this it?” She went in the back and came out with one of those plastic shopping bags, half-full. They were mostly runty and some were still half-green. “Hmm…”, I said, pursing my lips. The woman dumped the bowl of carambolas into the bag and said, “$5 and they’re all yours.” Turns out she’s got a tree and the fruit is dropping like mad. Done! I think there was at least 10 pounds of ‘em!
Hubs has stopped looking at me quizzically when I come home with bags full of produce. In fact, he’s pretty much stopped eating produce at home without my express permission, fearing cries of “I was going to can that!” And I do have plans for these babies.
But, Kaela of Local Kitchen chose “chillies” as the theme for October’s Tigress’ Can Jam. Remember? ->Sigh!<- By the way, I know many people spell it “Chiles”, but I’m not going to get into the whole “Chili is the pepper. Chile is a country in South America.” thing. Anyway, there was only one thing left to do: Carambola Pepper Jam!
I made a micro-batch of this, as M was very clear on the point that he doesn’t like pepper jelly or jam. So, for the purposes of the Can Jam, I made one jar. Seriously. One half-pint jar. Plus whatever’s in that bowl you see in the photos. So, if you’re at all hesitant, or you’ve been mesmerized by that pile of weird-looking fruit at the store and you just don’t know what you’d do with it anyway, I’m going to give you that micro-recipe:
Carambola (Star Fruit) Pepper Jam
(Makes 1 half-pint plus a little for the fridge)
2 cups of finely chopped carambola, seeds removed (plus a few whole slices, for fun)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. honey (I used a local orange blossom honey)
1 ripe (red) habanero pepper (seeds & pith removed and chopped super-fine)
Put a small plate in the freezer for gel-testing later. If the carambola has any brown on the “fins”(perfectly normal!), trim that part off with a sharp knife before chopping the fruit.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, put the carambola, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and add the habanero pepper and honey. Continue to boil and stir periodically for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and do a gel test. (Put a small amount of the liquid on the frozen plate, return to the freezer for 2 minutes, and push it with the tip of a spoon or your fingernail. It’s ready to can when it’s no longer runny and wrinkles on the plate.)
Don’t forget to sterilize your jar (10 minutes in boiling water) and prepare a new lid appropriately! Pour the jam into the sterilized jar, leaving 1/2″ head space, twist on your lid finger-tight, and boiling water process for 5 minutes. Remove the jar to a towel or newspaper-covered surface to cool. And ping. Allow to sit for 24 hours and test your seal. Put the little bit remaining into a container and refrigerate.
Note: The honey makes this jam pretty stiff when refrigerated, so, while you should refrigerate this after opening, allow it to warm up a bit at room temperature before using.
Sweet, with a little bit of tartness from the carambola, and even though I used a habanero pepper, it was a red one (a lot of flavor!) and I did cut out the pith and seeds. You get the heat, but it’s not overwhelming, and the honey really mellows and rounds out the flavor on your tongue.
My favorite way to eat this is as a snack on crackers with cream cheese, but it’s equally awesome with a crusty slice of baguette and a sliver of brie. Try melting a little in the microwave and brushing it on chicken or fish as a glaze, too!
Oh, and M’s verdict? “This is great! Make sure you keep the recipe!” ->Sigh<-