Imagine this: A “kawa” or cauldron as big as a bathtub, over three hollow blocks, set over a wood fire; a tall man (Armando Zalblan, my mother’s driver as a young girl) using an oar-like stirring spoon, slowly stirring the fresh mango purée and sugar mixture. That is the vision I remember when my grandmother got her share from the mango farm.
To test the doneness of the jam, one had a small plate of water and a dot of jam was placed on it and if it was firm enough, the jam was done. You don’t have to do that nowadays; there is the candy thermometer to do that for you.
Making jams is something that must be made with love and patience because it takes several hours to come out with it. The stirring does not stop because to do so would result in a burnt bottom. Sure you can buy the mango jam from the supermarket, but home made jam is what you call ‘haleang manga’; something sticky that you can spoon and straight to the mouth to be licked and chewed. In fact if you further evaporate the mixture, you can come up with ‘pastillas de manga’ (little finger-like fruit bars). This is the pure kind; some of the ones you can buy are already mixed with some other fruit because mangoes are a bit pricey compared to the other fruits.
The other trick to making good jam is the vat or wok that you use. When I toured Europe with my children, one of the things I found was a copper vat; just the right size to make jam; so I bought it and had my children, carry it in turns because it was like a treasure found for me. Here in the Philippines, if your grandmother/aunt left you with a ‘tatcho’, be very grateful because that bronze vat is what you can use to make jam.
So when you have all the time in the world, give yourself a chance to practice love and patience!
Mango Jam is made with ripe mangoes, a little green mango, sugar, light corn syrup, lemon juice, and a lot of love and patience.
- 1 kilo (4 cups) mango yellow pulp grated (you need almost 2 kilos fresh) - peel and grate thickly
- 100 grams green mango - peel and grate thickly
- 500 grams white sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Prepare the bottles or jars that you are going to use to store your jam.
Chose bottles that have a wide enough mouth for a spoon to enter.
Clean the bottles and caps well with soap and water; rinse well.
Place the cleaned bottles and caps in a big vat of water and boil for 10 minutes; this is to sterilize the bottles.
The other way is to use a steamer and place the bottles upside down and steam them for about 20 minutes.
Let the bottles air dry and then they are ready to use.
Make the jam
Place your copper/bronze vat over a medium-low fire. (Do not use a saucepan; the best, if you do not have a copper or bronze vat, is to use a wok).
Pour the measured mango, green mango, lemon juice, sugar, and light corn syrup.
Start the long trek to making the jam; constantly stirring the mixture, with a wooden spoon/silicon spoon, until you reach the temperature of 101ºC to 104ºC.
Slightly allow to cool and then bottle.
Cool completely before placing the cap.
Store in cool place.
- You put corn syrup to prevent the sugar from crystallizing.
- You put lemon juice to have pectin in the jam to aid in making the jam.
- You may use brown sugar but it will taste differently more on the caramel side than the pure flavor of the mango.
- One must use a wooden stirring spoon or a silicon long steamed spoon, to stir the mixture.