Can Jam 10 – Carambola Pepper Jam

 

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)

Ingredients:

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)

Preparation:

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<-

By RJ Flamingo

11 Comments

  1. 1
    October 22, 2010

    Of course he liked it, you only made one jar. It's always that way, huh? This sounds amazing – I'm thinking it would be good with scrambled eggs like a sweet salsa maybe? I've always loved the star look and it makes a great presentation. Sending applause!

  2. 2
    October 22, 2010

    Renee, this sounds wonderful. I love pepper jelly and the start fruit makes it so unusual. At least in these here parts, it's unusual. Great job!

  3. 3
    October 22, 2010

    Love this jam! I'll have to keep an eye out for star fruit!

  4. 4
    October 22, 2010

    So cool that you can score a bag load of carambola! What are you going to do with the rest?

  5. 5
    October 22, 2010

    How interesting. I've never heard of these fruit being called anything other than star fruit. So pretty although I've never even tasted one either. Guess I'll have to change that soon. Oh, I also adore the bowl that your carambola pepper jam is in! Nice touch Renee :)

  6. 6
    October 22, 2010

    Oh man, now he wants more? Haha! So cool that you can get these right off the tree in FL…and at you favorite breakfast joint, too! Love the jam–it's just beautiful!

  7. 7
    October 27, 2010

    Your jam is beautiful! And what luck on the carambolas, I'll have to look for some now since I'm in Fl, too.

  8. 8
    Cara
    August 28, 2013

    I have a starfruit tree in my backyard in the FL keys and have so many I don’t know what to do with them all! So, my husband and I decided we would try Carambola wine and jelly this year. We decided to start with the jelly and I was hard-pressed to find a recipe (other than this one). Then my husband did a bunch of research finding that it doesn’t make a very good jelly or jam on it’s own and should be mixed with something else. So, I decided this recipe would be a good start. We made one batch to try it and we both loved it! So, we made a double batch, which made 3 half-pint jars worth. I used tupelo honey which I highly recommend as it doesn’t crystalize like all other honeys. It is a bit more pricy and harder to find, but it really tastes wonderful in this recipe. I picked mine up at a farmers market in Floral City, FL. I did not see any instructions to pit or take the seeds out of the starfruit, but we decided to do so. These parts are bitter and I don’t know for sure if the seeds are edible. The easiest way to cut the pit out is to trim off the fins first then slice the fruit on each side off of the pit. The pit is very similar to an apple pit if that helps. Then chop finely. We plan on making 6 more jars and giving them as Christmas presents! Thanks so much for the recipe! I plan on subscribing as I enjoy picking my own fruit and making a variety of jams and jellies.

    • 8.1
      RJ Flamingo
      August 28, 2013

      Thanks, Cara! You’re right, of course – I should have specified to remove the seeds. Guess I just took it for granted that folks would do that. Maybe I’ll go back in and fix that. :) You’re also right about Tupelo honey. It only comes from northern Florida/southern Georgia, which makes it a little more difficult to find for the rest of the country. So glad that you and your husband are enjoying my recipe. I know your friends and family will, too! Thank you for letting me know. :)

  9. 9
    Cara
    August 28, 2013

    I also forgot to mention I tried it with goat cheese on a cracker and it was phenomenal!

    • 9.1
      RJ Flamingo
      August 28, 2013

      Cheese, crackers, and pepper jelly – my favorite TV snack!

One Trackback

  • By Carambola Pepper Jam « Mangovore on January 3, 2013 at 6:12 am

    […] then, what to do with 20-30 fruits all ripening at about the same time? Enter Flamingo Musings’ Carambola Pepper Jam, which knocked out at least three or four fruits for just a half-pint of jam. I followed her recipe […]

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