Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Liliko'i Ginger Preserves

After three months of liliko'i falling from the sky (well, from the vine overtaking one of our tangerine trees), I've started making and canning liliko'i jelly out of desperation. I mean, I love liliko'i - how could I waste it? Even though I am an anti-sugar person, mostly, I decided to make liliko'i jelly/jam. (Well, more accurately, I'm a person who *lurves* sugar but knows how bad it is for us human organisms, so I do my best to stay away.)

Liliko'i is not just a tangy, tart ball of delicious, it is also high in beta carotene (Vitamin A), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), iron, potassium, and dietary fiber (ref). Parts of the plant have been implicated to help a variety of ailments including high blood pressure, asthma, osteoarthritis, and maybe even some cancers (ref). I enjoy squeezing the juice of one fruit into a tall1 glass of water (and maybe a little muddled mint). It's a very refreshing drink for hot days.

just a small fraction of our liliko'i harvest

This was my first jelly making and canning experience. I found a basic recipe and protocol on Kris Bordessa's Attainable Sustainable blog. I fiddled with her recipe a bit to fit my own needs. In my recipe, I've added ginger, which is wonderful with liliko'i. In this recipe I use a steam canner (not a water bath or a pressure canner). I realize there is some controversy about steam canning, but after some research I'm convinced (enough) that it is safe for acidic foods. You can adapt it for any method of canning you choose. I also use Pomona pectin, which allows jellies to be lower in sugar and still jell. It includes a separate calcium solution that promotes pectin jelling. The recipe below calls for less than half the sugar used in typical jelly recipes.

The yield for this recipe is about 5-6 8 oz jars. I've calculated that it has less than 10 calories per teaspoon.

1a. Wash and rinse jars (used 8 oz jelly jars), set out (inverted) to dry on steam canner rack on counter.
1b. Wash lids & rings then bring to boil in the bottom part of steam canner. Turn off burner and let sit in hot water until use.

2. Use 4 cups liliko'i juice, about 8oz grated ginger with juice, and the juice of 1 lemon. Add 4 teaspoon calcium water (following the Pomona directions).

3. Measure a scant 2 cups sugar (I have been using organic sugar) in a separate bowl, thoroughly mix with 2.5 teaspoons Pomona pectin.

4. Bring juice and calcium mixture to a roiling boil, stirring frequently.

5. Add sugar/pectin mix, stirring vigorously to dissolve pectin.

6. Let boil, then turned off heat.At this point, you can skim off the foam that's formed, skim it off in the individual jars, or just leave it in. It is perfectly edible and only jelly snobs should care too much.

7. Use a ladle to fill jars to about 1/4 inch from top. Wipe off any jam sticking to the side of the jars. Pull lid and rings out of hot water (using tongs) and screw on to finger-tight.

8. Put rack in water bath (water is still warm) and put jars on rack. 

filled jars in steamer

9. Put top on, bring to vigorous boil. You want it as hot as possible to sterilize the jars.

10. Start timing 15 min when lots of steam is coming out through the holes in the canner lid. (The instructions say 8 in continuous stream.)

11. Turn off heat and let sit a few minutes before (carefully) opening lid. You should hear a *pop* pop* *pop* as the jars seal within a few minutes.

12. Bring jars (careful! they are hot!) to a towel on the counter and check seals.

I'm not capable of doing anything without wasting time with extra, crafty touches. *sigh*
Jelly making and canning was much easier than I expected. The chemistry and science involved were quite satisfying to my ex-researcher brain. I have since become a little bit obsessed with jelly making and canning. (A good thing, since liliko'i is still falling out of the tree... and now there is guava by the ton!)

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