Why do our taste buds seem to love sugar that much? I think we are all programmed to like sugar, it’s pleasurable and it’s even addictive!
Our food inclinations are innate! It probably all starts in utero. Remember that breast milk is naturally sweet.
While sugar is the most dangerous drug of all time and it is legally available everywhere, know we are not ready to give it up any time soon.
Today my recipe is very sweet. For the third time since the birth of 196 flavors, I am making jam. After a wedded bliss from Iceland and an agony of love from the Caribbean, we are headed today to the Polynesian archipelago of the Tuvalu islands.
Tuvalu is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican. It consists of nine islands, 10 sq miles in total, located on the Pacific Ocean midway between Australia and Hawaii. The highest point of the country is at a staggering 14 feet!
When people talk about global warming and the impact of greenhouse gas effects, they often refer to Tuvalu as any increase in sea level means a great loss of land. Indeed, the 11,000 souls of Tuvalu live under the threat of the ocean. The islands are preparing for a big catastrophe: climate change is going to wipe out the entire archipelago. Rising sea level and powerful tornadoes began to put the islands at risk. Tuvalu may become uninhabitable or disappear entirely a few decades from now.
The paradisiacal beaches of Tuvalu are all lined with coconut trees and the country is rich in a wide variety of fruits such as bananas, papayas, pandanus, and breadfruit.
Papaya and coconut are on the menu today!
Papaya, which is originally from Mexico, is the third most widely grown tropical fruit in the world after mango and pineapple, avocado arriving just after. Papaya can be eaten raw or cooked, depending if it is ripe or green.
The recipe I chose to prepare is based on green papaya. It is not a variety of papaya, but just the fruit picked before maturity. It is often used as a vegetable as in Thai green papaya salad called som tam, and its flesh is almost white.
Beside jam, green papaya is a vegetable that is prepared the same way as squash for example. It is peeled, then blanched. It is prepared in salads or gratins. It is great served with white meat. It can also be used in soups.
Although, in general, green papaya is not eaten before it is cooked or at least blanched, you can imagine that I had the curiosity to taste it. And I honestly loved it! Except that shortly after, I discovered on the web that the white substance coming out was none other than… latex ! Yes ladies, there is papaya inside our short leather skirts!
Jam making has been an ancient tradition for preserving fruits with honey in antiquity and sugar since the Middle Ages. One of the oldest jam recipes, quince with honey, was mentioned by Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer in the first century of our era.
Making homemade jam takes me back to my childhood. Whether it was my girlfriends, my mom’s girlfriends, my aunts, my grandmothers, my cousins, and of course my mom… around me, nobody ever bought jam. Everybody made it at home. It was part of our culture.
I made this jam for Passover, as it is a tradition to serve all kinds of jams at the end of the holiday. So I crafted this papaya and coconut jam at the right time and what a treat it was!
- 2 lb green papaya , diced
- 3 cups fresh coconut , finely grated
- 3 lb sugar
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1 (2 inch) piece ginger , to obtain one tablespoon of juice
- Mix papaya, sugar, lime juice and coconut in a large bowl.
- Refrigerate 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
- Add ginger juice after 2h30.
- Put everything in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium-low heat until liquid is reduced and has reached the consistency of jam (about 1h30 to 2h).
- Immediately put the jam in the jars.
Place a piece of fresh ginger root in cheesecloth.
- Crush the root beating with a hammer or mallet and then press the desired amount of juice.
- Option 1. In a large pot of water, boil jars and lids for about 15 minutes, then dry them upside down on a clean cloth.
- Option 2. In the microwave, heat the jars filled with water for 3 minutes at maximum power then dry them upside down on a clean cloth.
- Once the jars are filled with boiling jam, close the lid and immediately turn over so they can cool and seal.