November 6, 2011

Jaboticaba Jelly

Jaboticaba 'Jewels' ripe for the picking

Have you ever seen a fruit tree like it!  A jungle of jaboticaba fruit.  Attached to the truck of the tree. The stems and the branches too.  Amazing!

The jaboticaba fruit is native to Brazil and it is best described as a tough-skinned purple grape-like fruit.  The whole fruit is edible, however, the skin can be slightly bitter and there is a softish pip in the middle.  Entirely edible.  But the gorgeous part of this fruit is the colourless flesh, sweet and juicy.  Hubby tends to pop the whole thing in his mouth, then spit out the pip and the skin after extracting all the flesh.  I can handle the pip well; I think the roughage is good, however sometimes the skin can be too bitter to handle.  My dear neighbour Philomena downs the whole lot.  It's all a matter of taste.

And so the time had come for me to pull out the pot and get into the mode for jelly-making.   I really didn't feel like it to be honest, but I guess cooking and eating seasonally doesn't come with the luxury of when it suits me.  The fruit is ready now.  If I wait any longer the birds will suss out the fruit and decimate the lot in a couple of days, sometimes even one day.  No joke!

I took a couple of bowls and filled them in next to no time.  The palm of my hand was full every time I reached in to pull them off.  The bowls were quickly filled.

They look like purpley black marbles

The good thing about a making a jelly compared to a jam is that it's not necessary to be too pedantic.  Simply wash off anything foreign and make sure that the fruit you use is not damaged.  That's pretty much it.  If the stems are on, that's fine.   Let's Jell!

Recipe Ingredients:

Whole jaboticaba fruit
3 green apples, fresh as can be will provide greater pectin
1 whole lemon or lime, straight off the tree if possible

Place the jaboticaba fruit in a large heavy-based pot, together with chopped up apple, unpeeled, uncored, unseeded - in other words the entire apple.  Extract as much lemon juice as possible, add to the fruit along with any lemon pips.  I used lime because I had no lemons, but I feel that perhaps lemon is the better citrus choice.  Add enough water to only just reach the top of the fruit.  Make sure you use your hand to press down the fruit when adding water, because the fruit can float invariably causing you to add too much water.

Place lid on pot; bring to boil; reduce to a simmer; simmer for about twenty minutes.  Take off lid; using a potato masher carefully press down on the hot fruit to help squish out the fruit.  Be very careful you don't splash it up and burn yourself.  This step is important for maximum flavour, but care is needed so you don't get scalded with squirting liquid.

I took about five minutes to do mine; return the pressed fruit back to the heat; continue to boil gently for another 20 or 30 minutes.  Lid off this time.  Remove from heat.  Your liquid should be very dark in colour.

Carefully line a colander with double strength muslin squares; place this into a very large stainless steel bowl; carefully pour the entire contents of your pot into the muslin. You can check out the way I do this step in my purple cherry jelly recipe.

I placed the first liquid to come through into a glass bowl and set it aside.  Using a strong wooden spoon I tied the muslin onto the wooden spoon and hung it over another bowl to catch the trickling juice.  Use whatever method suits you.  Just remember, don't press the jelly bag at any time to try to extract more juice.  We want an unclouded jelly, although I must admit in the case of the jaboticaba with the fruit being soooo dark, I do wonder if it matters.

I left the bag to hang overnight.

The jelly bag next morning - such a lovely colour

I measured out the juice that was collected.  Way too much so I decided to halve the quantity.  Don't every be tempted to use a full pot of juice to make your jelly.  Not three quarters and even half full would still be pushing the limit.  You see, once the sugar is added and the rapid boil is on, your liquid rises up and could easily spill over the sides of the pot.  Or, spit up at you or over the sides of the pot which is even more dangerous.

I ended up with;

2050mls of jaboticaba juice

I used the rule of three quarter cup of sugar to one cup of juice; therefore I needed;

1530 white sugar

For further pectin I added 3/4 cup of home-made liquid pectin stock.  Check out Celia's how to make this.

In my clean, heavy based pot I added the juice, sugar and stock.  Stir over a medium low heat stirring constantly to  help dissolve the sugar.  If the sugar bubbles before dissolving; remove from heat; reduce heat; and continue to stir till you have no sugar granules in your juice.

Increase the heat to high; allow to rapidly boil but watch the pot!  I had to remove mine from the heat a few times because my pot was half full and it rose to the top.  It would of spilled over for sure if I hadn't removed it from the heat.  Control the heat, by raising or lowering depending on the boil and the height of the 'rise'.

Keep checking for the 'set' of jell that you like.  I probably took mine a little further than I should have.  It was a firm set and in hindsight I would have preferred a slightly softer set.  It doesn't affect the taste though.   The boiling time of this jaboticaba jelly took 35 minutes; quite a while in terms of jellying.

Just bread & butter with jaboticaba jelly.   Simple, wholesome and good. 

The verdict?

There was a definite 'tangyness' that I didn't expect.  Not quite sure whether it was as a result of the freshly picked lime or the extra pectin, but it was quite noticeable.  I think next time I would reduce the level of added pectin and use a lemon instead of a lime.  My son and Hubby both thought there was too much sugar.  Oh dear.  And I used the three quarter rule too.  Oh well.  There is a lot of sweetness in the jaboticaba flesh so perhaps less sugar for the next time.

And a next time there will be.  How on earth can anything be perfected unless 'you have a go'.  There is definitely room for perfecting; but I shall let you in on a little secret. My family and I are very harsh critics.  It's like full on master chef judges around here.  If I didn't have a little kitchen confidence, I think I would've shut shop ages ago.  Just as well I can handle the food critics around here.  Incidentally, the people to whom I have given little pots of jaboticaba jelly are absolutely amazed and they just loved it!  So there you go.


  1. I'm getting the harsh critics at the moment as well. I think I should let the standards slip for a while and then things will be appreciated a bit better again!
    Now this jelly intrigues me. I've never seen a fruit grown like that. I'll bet it tastes gorgeous Mariana.

  2. Oh that's hilarious cityhippyfarmgirl! Thanks for the tip. Standards slipping aye? Didn't think of that one. You are funny - and sometimes it takes precisely that to get a little validation. So pleased you dropped in today - I needed a chuckle. Cheers Mariana.

  3. I would love to try your jelly. I have just been admiring the awesomeness of your new blog layout. It's ever so clever and looks completely stunning. The little fruits all stuck to the branches look so foreign. It reminds me of the judas tree which we had in the garden and which died this year, that had flowers all over the stems, but no fruits just long brown seed pods that rattled in the wind all through the winter. I haven't made any jelly this year at all. I am not even at the being judged stage as there is none to judge. Have you ever used frozen fruit to make jam? I have some bits and pieces in the freezer, cherries and so on, they should be all right shouldn't they if i don't leave them too long..... what proportions of sugar to cherries would you suggest, that's always the hardest thing to know. Is there a minimum sugar / fruit ratio for canned jams? I know you can use a lot less if you make short life jam and keep it in the fridge and eat it up quickly. x Joanna

  4. Amazing looking fruit! I think people who can make jelly like you and my Pete are very clever indeed - it seems so much more finicky than jam making. Getting it to set at all is often tricky! Love the gorgeous redness of the toast shot!

  5. Woooow. Glad to see you're still the same mother, making and creating new brilliant things in the kitchen day after day. I miss it so. Love you, Nicka. X

  6. Oh this tree sure is foreign Joanna. Oooh I do like the sound of your "rattling" Judas tree, just not too fussed on the name. Not sure how useful I can be to you - using frozen fruit is something I never do. I guess my philosophy is to use the fruit straight off the tree when in season and to have enough of it to last till the next season comes around. As for cherries, I'm afraid I live in a tropical climate so the tree is just not suitable for our area. So, sadly, I haven't made cherry jam or jelly before and not likely to given where we live.
    As for proportions of sugar to fruit, my suggestion to you would be 'taste it'. If the fruit is quite sweet to begin with then definitely reduce the sugar content. I just made another batch of jaboticaba jelly and am over the moon with this one. With the recipe above, I used the 450gm sugar to 600ml liquid rule. It was still too sweet. My son suggested to drop the sugar content from 75% to 60% with my next batch. It was perfect. The sweetness was there without dominating the taste of the fruit - the balance was spot on.

    However with a really sour or bitter fruit, like our native lilly pilly, I used the 1 cup sugar to 1 cup liquid rule. I found that okay to begin with, but I noticed one batch was too sweet and it's fruit was picked later in the season. Again, I should of tasted it. So for me at least, taste the fruit and check out the sweetness before you start. It really is a learning curve, very much learnt through trial and error.

    Wish I could have been more useful to you, however I can tell you that I've used a minimum of 60% sugar to 100% fruit and the jelling capacity was very good. I'm sure you can go even lower with the sugar, but as you say, the keeping time will not be as long. Cheers Mariana

    Gee thanks for your nice compliment Celia. Not that I dare compete with Pete. He does sound clever! I must update with my second batch. It was stunning and the harsh critics were speechless - I'm most pleased to report.

    Hellooooooooo Boo Boo! Fancy my little traveller dropping in. A tad homesick perhaps? Yes dear, I am still the same mother. I'm just wondering though - when you return after travelling the world for seven months - are you going to be the same daughter!

  7. I have to say I felt a bit overwhelmed when i saw the fotogrpah of the fruits sticking to the trunk of the tree. It looked a little weird but beautiful at the same time!

    You are an expert jam maker Mariana! and with all those different fruits you are having it couldnt have fallen on the lap of a better lucky your friends a nd family are! Truly.

  8. Ah, I can imagine you liked this one. An exotic fruit and an unusual tree. I wonder what you would make with these Zurin? Not sure about how expert I am dear, I'm still working on the preserve making and trying to master the skill. The trees my dear Zurin didn't fall into our lap - I must give all the credit to Hubby. He grew each and every one of them and they are outstanding. Even Philomena is envious and we know what a gardener she is! Mariana xxxx

    1. Nice looking tree/shrub too. Might be useful to point out that the trees take many years to bear fruit. Even in red volcanic soil with reasonable rainfall (though very well drained)it has taken about 10 years. In November there were a couple of handfuls, but right now it is loaded. I think they would make excellent sorbet. Not sour like Davidson Plums.

  9. Great post. I am right into making my own jelly.

  10. I find making jelly is always a little trickier than a jam or a marmalade. But the results are so worth it. Thanks for dropping by.

  11. I also make jam, juice is more use in our home, I also freeze the fruit as is to make more juice as needed, I find i have enough to llast till the next lot of fruit is ready

  12. Silly question, how many jaboticabas go into this recipe?