Part IV Cooking the Etrog jam
We last left off with the mixture containing our prepared Etrog slices, lemon stock and sugar. We are now going to cook the mixture creating the alchemy that is jam.
The first step is to adjust the mixture to taste with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Drip a few drops of the liquid on a spoon and taste. Our perception of taste varies with temperature and you want to make sure that you are tasting the mixture at room temperature. This is very subjective, everybody’s palate is different. I like a taste where the citrus flavor is bright and edgy rather than tasting just the sweetness. To this particular mixture I added the juice from a whole lemon, about 2.5 fl oz.
The jam is ready for cooking.
Not much to say about this stage, it is pretty straightforward. The trickiest aspect is the “test for doneness”. One reads about “doneness” all the time in cooking. It’s a great concept that never really transfers to real life! The two indicators I use are the size and shape of the bubbles (small and uniform) and by dripping a few drops of the jam onto a spoon which is left on a saucer in the freezer for a couple of minutes to cool down and see if a gel is forming.
A few mins before the end of cooking, I steeped some dried myrtle leaves in the cooking mixture.
The leaves were placed in a stainless steel mesh tea ball so they could be easily retrieved after infusion. The myrtle leaf infusion adds a beautiful aromatic note to the jam in addition to a reminder, of course, of why one acquired the Etrog in the first place.
The hot jam is ladled into sterilized jars and sealed. After the jars are sealed, they rest undisturbed to cool down and allow the jam to set.
The final touch is to add a label and the jam is now ready for consumption.
Making Etrog jam is certainly complicated, there certainly are a lot of steps but the result is insanely delicious. The flavor of this jam is incredibly intense and concentrated, very distinctive. It can be taken with tea or spread between the layers of sponge cake. I like it on challah or toasted bread for a simple but sumptuous treat. Some people have the tradition of saving the jam for Tu B’Shevat.
Verdict on the recipe? This jam is delicious. Actually I think that technically this recipe is a marmalade. There is definitely room for tinkering in the recipe. Next time I would perhaps make the Etrog:partner fruit ratio at 1:2 or even greater. This would create a different look and taste to the jam, with a different ratio of slices to jelly.
Enjoy and I hope you will trust me with your Etrogim again next year!