Well, maybe that’s a bit strong.
I didn’t “lie” exactly. But I certainly didn’t believe for a second that my improvised freezer jam-style pawpaw preserves might, just might, actually turn out to be tasty.
Maybe I should say I was wrong… but that’s much harder to admit!
Much to my surprise, after a few weeks of the preserves languishing in my fridge, a quick sample revealed it was actually delicious. I guess the flavors had time to mellow and relax and blend, and by that time the instant pectin had set up to an acceptably spreadable texture.
So here is the pawpaw preserves recipe after all. (Sorry I don’t have the fancy WordPress business plan that allows plugins for nicely formatted recipes. Hopefully you can copy & paste it to your word processor of choice to print or save.) Also the blog post continues below the recipe. I am always frustrated when I have to scroll through mountains of text to reach the recipe in a post, so I try not to foist the same experience on my readers (all two and a half of you – hi!).
This recipe was a mishmash of the original recipe, Ball’s generic instructions for freezer jam, and my own compulsive need to tweak any recipe that crosses my kitchen counter.
Pawpaw Preserves – Freezer Jam Style
1 1/2 c pawpaw puree (mine was relatively lumpy for texture purposes)
1/3 c sugar, plus more as needed to taste
3 Tbs bourbon
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs instant pectin
1/4 tsp ground spice bush
1/4 tsp salt
Heat pawpaw puree and water gently in a pan over low heat, so it just simmers for 10 minutes. (I am not sure if this is “really” necessary, but that is what they did in the original recipe so I did it too!) You can add water if it seems too thick, or strain if it seems too lumpy.
Stir in vinegar, bourbon, spice bush and salt. Taste and add a tablespoon at a time more sugar (for sweet) and / or vinegar (for tart) according to your personal preferences.
Allow the preserves to cool slightly, then whisk in pectin. Store in containers in the fridge or freezer.
Makes about 3 cups.
Here’s my challenge: how do I use the preserves? I haven’t eaten toast since I stopped eating grains years ago. And after many failed attempts, I finally realized there is no “perfect paleo bread”. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to find or create the ideal recipe for grain-free bread before I finally realized that for me, personally, mimicking mainstream food was actually counterproductive to how I had chosen to eat.
As a result, I don’t eat many things one would normally top with preserves.
If I ate ice cream, I could imagine dribbling preserves over it.
Stirring it into yogurt might work.
Basting pork or chicken while grilling or roasting might also be an option, though after reading Eating Appalachia I’d be concerned about how high heat would impact the flavor. Plus at least one member of my family wouldn’t even try dinner if there were pawpaw anywhere in it.
What’s a forager to do?
Feed it to friends and family, of course!
I decided to share the preserves at a Halloween party, and they were a hit! I topped crackers with goat cheese and a dollop of preserves and They. Were. Amazing. The goat cheese contributed a slight tang to offset the flavor of the preserves, and the cracker provided a satisfying crunch.
(I even made a few with store bought almond flour crackers, because no one at a party should eat a dish the cook won’t eat herself.)
Tips: Remember to assemble the crackers just before eating, and only make as many as will get consumed quickly. (The crackers eventually absorb the moisture from the goat cheese and turn soggy.) Also be prepared for a LOT of questions about what pawpaws are because most people haven’t heard of them, even in areas where they grow wild!