Homemade Apple Jam


Winter is usually the time to make all these delicious things, peanut butter, jams, jellies, pies , carrot and pumpkin Halwas etc. It is that time of the year when the markets are full of colorful veggies especially the leafy greens and delicious apples, raspberries, guavas and strawberries.

Homemade apple jam with a dash of cinnamon or clove is something I love. It is easy to make and tastes somewhat like the apple pie filling. I keep changing the spices I add to it. Clove and  black peppercorn taste the best but you can go with a dash of apple pie spice mix or keep it plain and simple. I prefer the natural fruit pectin to do the trick so never add artificial pectin. As for sugar, if you choose sweet, juicy apples you will need very little sugar.

 

Ingredients :

Red Delicious Apples –  1/2 Kg.

Sugar – 1Cup

Lemon Juice – 4 Tablespoon (1 big size lemon is good)

Warm Water – Enough to submerge the apple

Cloves – 3

Black pepper corns – 4

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Method

1. Wash, peel, core and cut apples in small cubes.  (You can grate them too)

2. Take a heavy bottom pan and put chopped apple in it. Pour just enough water to submerge the apples.

3. Add cloves.

4.  Keep the pot on high flame to bring the water to boil and then lower the flame.

5. Keep stirring till apples soften.

6. Remove any foam that forms on top of the mixture.

6.  Add sugar once the apples becomes soft. Mash them to get a smooth texture. You can keep the chunks too. I sometimes prefer the chunky jam.

7.  Add lemon juice at this point

8. Keep the flame low and stir continuously so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

9.  Cook it till the mixture passes the “setting test” .

 The test to check if the jam is ready

Take a clean glass plate and put a spoonful of jam on it. If the mixture runs on tilting the plate , it is not done but if sticks to the plate and glides slowly then its ready to cool. After cooling it will thicken more. If it seems too thick then add a little water and continue to simmer till it passes the test, if it’s runny the simmer for some more time and then remove for cooling. 

10. Cool the mixture and slowly spoon it into sterilized jar. Do try this simple and delicious apple jam without all of the preservatives and additives you find in the store bought items.

Happy Eating !

Photo Theme For Thursday – “Yellow”


Yellow is the theme for this Thursday’s photo challenge.  Yellow reminds me of Marigolds, bright sunshine, dahlias and lovely yellow sunflowers.  It also reminds me of evenings spent under Laburnum trees.. It’s yellow lantern of delicate flowers swaying with   summer breeze.

You will be surprised to see  intoxicating yellow  of the ripe jack fruit.

 

Among the tropical fruits the deep intoxicating fragrance of ripe Jack fruit and its delicious taste still makes me reminiscent of  the childhood days spent in Pune. I love the crunch in them and there is no other joy which fills my heart than carving out the ripe yellow pieces of this lovely fruit.

The morning sun rays bathed the gorgeous plant and its yellow immediately brightened up with joy.  The simple pleasure of life that gladden the heart and make life worth every living moment.

The most beautiful things sometimes grow in the midst of  thorns. During my walks in Lonavala I found this yellow beauty tucked away among spikes that drew blood at one touch. A clear sign that nature wants us not to disturb the balance it has created.

There is always something precious in what nature gives us. we just have to open our hearts to receive it.

Getting to know about Mangoes


Mango tree

India has a long history of worshiping trees, plants and for the ancient Aryans nature was revered. Many trees like Ashoka, Peepal, Banyan Tree, Bael tree, Neem and Sandalwood tree, Bamboo, banana, coconut and most of all Mango trees are some of the most significant ones. Mostly all these trees have medicinal properties as well as socio-religious significance. All of them are large shady trees and perennials.

Hot summer day. A rope swing on the strong branch of a lush green mango tree, intoxicating fragrance of the mango flowers and the delicious fruit makes the Mango tree is one of the most loved trees in India.

Smooth luscious, velvety and juicy that’s a mango, the king of all fruits as far as India is concerned. This tropical fruit lives up to its name. The mango tree is thick and shady therefore excellent for planting in avenues parks etc. Everything from this tree is used in one form or the other.It has a religious importance as well as medicinal one. Mango is our National fruit and rightly so for it has a whole culture of mango eating associated with it.

In north India the land owners who harvested mangoes took pride in their crop.Mango festivals and mango eating sessions and contests were held all through the summers. Big drums of water were filled and ripe mangoes were soaked in them to cool. The families gathered and amidst fun and laughter sucked the mango pulp and juice directly from the fruit by rubbing the ripe mangos with hands loosening the flesh. The dripping juices the sweet taste and the intoxicating aroma were all part of the ritual. It is still fun to eat mango like that instead of cutting and eating it with fork or spoon. They were the connoisseurs of the fruits. Baskets of the best ripe mangoes were exchanged as gifts.

The mango has been cultivated in India for over 4,000 years and is an important part of the Indian heritage and culture. It is almost an object of veneration in Hindu households. It is also considered a symbol of love and fertility.

During the long hot summers mangoes are relished all over India especially in the North. We have hundreds of varieties with exquisite flavors, exotic names and unmatched deliciousness. There is dashahree, langra, tota pari, safeda, alfanso and neelam all known for there distinct flavor, shape and color.

Religious significance

In the Hindu religion, mango tree has a lot of importance. To the Hindus, it is a symbol of the Lord of all creatures. The twigs are used as toothbrushes and the leaves as spoons for the pouring of libations. The rooms in which marriage ceremonies are held are festooned with Mango leaves. It is considered auspicious.

The wood is also considered as sacred because it is included in funeral pyres. Hindus also dedicate the flowers of the tree to the Moon on the second day of the month of Maagh.

The flowering and the fruit-bearing species symbolizes reproduction as they don’t stop growing.

Other uses of the tree

Apart from the delicacy of the fruit, the tree has some other valuable properties as well. The timber of this tree is kiln-dried or seasoned in saltwater. It is quite soft and durable and thus very good for planking and making packing cases and tea boxes. It is gray or greenish-brown, coarse-textured, hard, easy to work and finishes well. In India, it is used for raft making, window frames, agricultural implements, for boats and boxes, including for making crates for shipping. The wood makes excellent charcoal.

The bark possesses 16% to 20% tannin and is used for tanning hides. It yields a yellow dye or when mixed with turmeric and lime, a bright rose-pink. The bark produces a somewhat resinous, red-brown gum that is used in medicine.

Medicinal Uses:

Dried mango flowers, contain 15% tannin and serve as astringents in cases of diarrhea, chronic dysentery and many other ailments. The resinous gum from the trunk is applied on cracks in the skin of the feet. Various parts of the tree are used to stop bleeding and prescribed in cases of snakebite and scorpion-sting as well. The immature fruit is used to treat certain eye ailments and some people believe that a tonic prepared from the ripe fruit can be proved good for the liver.

Mango kernel concoction and powder are used as astringents in hemorrhages and bleeding hemorrhoids. A combined concoction of mango and other leaves is taken after childbirth.

Nutrients

It is a rich source of vitamin A C D and has only 70 calories per 100 grams, despite its powerful sweet taste. Mango also contains beta carotene, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9, a lot of vitamin C, and some traces of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, lot of antioxidants.

Both raw and ripe mango is used in various food preparations as appetizers, fruit smoothies, deserts, salads, jams squashes and also used in main dishes . Raw fruits are used for making chutney, pickles and juices. Sun dried raw mango slices are powdered and used in Indian cooking.

Source: Trees of India

The Fruit of Life : Pomegranate : Health Benefits


 

Richly colored and delicious, pomegranate with its sparkling ruby colored juicy berries and immense medicinal properties, has been a symbol of health, fertility and rebirth throughout history.

The fruit is rich Source of many Essential Nutrients, like antioxidants, natural phytoestrogens, citric acid, essential amino acids, vitamins B & C and Iron, along with many other powerful health boosters.

Health benefits

The seeds of the pomegranate are very nutritious. The juice is rich in medicinal properties. It helps keep up normal LDL cholesterol levels and supports normal cardiovascular health. It is highly useful in relieving the effects of menopause and as a support to healthy immune system. It helps in maintaining normal blood pressure levels and healthy joint function and is beneficial in maintaining oral/dental health. The juice of pomegranate is good for leprosy patients.

Pomegranate is a perfect thirst quencher and energy booster during fevers as it is full of sucrose and glucose. It helps in all kind of bilious conditions, uterine ulcers, urinary disorders, typhoid fever, gastric and asthmatic fevers, and reduces high blood pressure.

Mixed with clove/cinnamon it is an effective cure for acute bronchitis, sore throat. The Indians consider pomegranate juice as a longevity drug. It is also a great memory booster.

The deep red fruits are a good laxative, and known to soothing in stomach inflammation. It is a tonic for the heart. It tones up the functions of the liver and kidneys. The minerals in the juice help the liver to absorb vitamin A from the food.

The bark, the rind, the roots, the tender leaves and the seeds all are medically beneficial.

FOR HEALTHY BODY AND MIND

We can merge it in daily diet by using it creatively.

Turkish, Greek, Iranian, and Indian cuisines use pomegranate in their dishes. It has an extensive use in frontier cuisine.

BREAKFAST

A bowl of fresh pomegranate berries, a glass of rich red juice, muffins, seasonal fruit salad, mixed with cereals, or as syrup, pomegranate has many uses in breakfast.

LUNCH AND DINNER

Pomegranate mixed in curd as raita, and in rice preparations especially Biryanis is delicious. Prawns cooked in pomegranate juice to gives them a distinct flavor and taste. It gives an exotic flavor as a marinade for meats and chickens especially Kebabs. Cold soups are wonderful ways to use it the daily diet.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette is an alternative for normal vinegar. Anardana powder, a spice made with powdered seeds is used in Indian cooking.

DESERTS

Desserts like fruit cream, Burfi (Indian sweet), custard, muffins, cakes; tarts etc taste delicious with pomegranate.

Sherbet, jam, syrups, and dips are some more uses of pomegranate.

DRINKS

Punches, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be made with the juice. Grenadine syrup adds zest to many cocktails. Smoothies taste great with pomegranate juice.

A pomegranate a day keeps the ailments away. Have a pomegranate for a healthy life today