I admit I had my doubts about persimmon jam when Giulio brought it up. I have a checkered past when it comes to persimmons. My brother used to throw them at me in my grandmother’s garden when we were kids. I can still hear the squishing sound they would make when they hit me. It was disgusting! So disgusting that I can’t bring myself to eat them almost 25 years later!
Great lead into this persimmon jam recipe right? Still, I was googling ideas for persimmon canning because my father-in-law has a huge tree full of the gorgeously ripe fruit, but persimmons are really difficult to cook with. They aren’t great in pies or savoury dishes. I made an absolutely disastrous persimmon custard the other day for the blog, which was inedible.
So when Giulio brought up persimmon jam, I was intrigued. We had all this lovely fruit just going to waste and persimmons are naturally squishy and sweet, so I thought, why not? I know Japanese persimmon jam or fuyu persimmon jam recipes abound online, so I decided to give it a go with our lotus persimmons.
If you’ve ever tried making jam, you know it can be a nightmare. Over the summer, I made apricot jam and I had to cook it for two days to try and thicken it. Amid the insanity and burnt pots, I promised myself I would never make jam again without pectin. Pectin or Jam Setta, as my nonna calls it, is a starch that occurs naturally in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. When cooked to a high temperature, it forms a gel.
Often a jam recipe will just tell you to use fruit pips or lemon skins as a pectin, but I never have much success with them. I don’t know what it is about Tuscan fruit, but it’s really watery.
If you want to make this persimmon jam without pectin, you can. Just substitute the half lemon for a whole lemon. Carefully peel off the skin with a potato peel and add it to the jam with the juice and pips. You’ll have to simmer the jam for at least 40 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.
This persimmon jam is really delicious on a slice of toasted Tuscan bread in the morning. Since it is so quick to make with the added pectin – I had my jam cut, boiled and jarred in 10 minutes!!! – you can make small batches as your fruit ripens or goes on sale at the supermarket.
The flavour is naturally sweet and custardy. Persimmons definitely have vanilla notes and the added vanilla essence ramps that up to about a thousand, so the jam is reminiscent of the boiled sweets of my childhood. You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon for seasonal spice or an orange or two if you want to make persimmon marmalade.
Since I made so much, I already have plans to make a persimmon crostata over the weekend. Breakfast for the week ahead sorted! Not sure Giulio will approve. He’s trying (and failing) to diet at the moment!
Quick and easy persimmon jam
6-7 very ripe persimmons
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
Peel the persimmons, squishing them between your fingers (sounds gross, I know) to mash them up a bit. Place in a large cast iron pot along with the sugar and pectin.
Bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir vigorously to break up the foam. Test your jam on a cold plate. If it congeals, it’s ready, otherwise boil for another 10-15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, lemon juice and ginger.
To sterilize jars and lids, place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Don’t drain the water, but bring back to the boil
Carefully ladle your jam into the jars. Seal tightly with their lids and boil for 5 minutes in the same pot of water you used to sterlize the jars. Remove from the boiling water and cool jars upside down to create a tight seal.
Makes 3 cups. Open jam will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.