Hints of the familiar, amidst a crowd of unfamiliar. That’s everyday life. The constants change daily and the strange becomes ‘worn in’. Like rain in the summer. And cardamom in desserts. I find my mind split in two – half loves cardamom in all Indian recipes, even those that don’t call for it and the other half has heard of it in Scandinavia baking and sweet cooking.
I love cardamom, it is the treasure of my spice pull-out drawer: I love it in my rice, and in my coffee and in my curries…but till now, I’d never tried it sweet. Familiar strawberries past their ‘best before’ and nearing their ‘no good after’, were blitzed up with crushed cardamom pods, eased out of their green wrinkled pods with the ‘hammer’ of a pestle.
All kindly assisted by daughter #1. Please meet my family: Miss Adventure is the firstborn child, she turns 7 tomorrow and like her mother and father before her, loves to eat. Strawberries are her favourite fruit ever and she loves purple, which used to be pink. Next up is 5 year old Miss I-know-how-I-want-it, second born, loves to cook and read and talk, thinks about the eating and is quite particular as to how she wants her bread toasted…..today. You should NEVER assume with her. And then, we have the mannetje, little man D: clown, foodie, gorgeous rascal and everything in between. He’s 3 going on 20!
Before the pot of strawberry mix gets to jelling point, the whole house is enveloped in scents so delightful Miss Adventure begs for some. Now.
This must be how Scandinavian homes smell before Midsummer’s unrivaled feast, the scent of cardamom weaving up and down stairwells and in and out of doors. And probably at Christmas too. Miss Picky I-know-how-I-want-it demands a taste, after which she proclaims this ‘A pot of mighty fine jam’. Well…not actually, but those were the sentiments expressed. Now she only has jam on occasion, about as often as the seasons change but this jam has put paid to that statistic.
Miss Adventure says the flavours are sweet and minty. Miss I-know-how-I-want-it, wants it on bread. Mannetje is not at all interested. Mama calls this a great success. She loves the jam too.
It has the softness and spreading power of jam and yet the translucence of jelly; the seeded look of fig jam and the colour of summer – red; the fragrance of strawberry fields and the heart of Scandinavia. It is fresh and sweet and cool all the same. Cardamom calls out its name and offers itself as the ‘astringent refresher’, the intense aromatic, and the ‘menthol’/eucalyptus spice. It melds with the strawberries and all of a sudden, this jam has ‘warmth, has character and packs a load of flavour’. Arguably, the best jam I ever made.
Even Miss Picky said so.
Please read Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial’s great Jam making primer: you’ll learn a lot about the jam test and canning!
Strawberry Cardamom ‘Smoothie’ Jam
Ingredients2 cups strawberries (1 punnet), washed & hulled Juice of 2 limes Seeds of 10 cardamom pods, crushed 1 cup sugar (which I will reduce next time) 2 cups (~500ml) homemade apple pectin (recipe coming soon)
Combine the strawberries and lime juice in a large bowl and crush with a fork/potato masher, till liquid is released from the fruit.
Add the cardamom seeds and leave to macerate, a few minutes to a couple of hours, refrigerated.
Then in a blender, blitz the strawberry mixture till smooth.
Put the mixture in a large pan, with the sugar and the liquid pectin and let boil till reduced and edges begin to collect thickened syrup.If you don’t have an eye for telling when the jam is ready as it may still look somewhat liquid, do the jam test, by putting a small saucer in the freezer to cool. When cold, put a small bit of jam on the cold saucer and let it rest for a couple of minutes, then touch the surface of the jam. It should wrinkle if it is ready.
Whatever you do, don’t overheat the jam….like I did with my redcurrant and kumquat jelly!
Pot some, can some, even eat some………..with toast. On scones. And enjoy a taste of Scandinavia.
Are you a cardamom lover? What is your favourite way to use it in a recipe?