Lighter Apple Jam
Fragrant with Nutmeg, Rosewater, and Cinnamon
Apple in its variety constitutes 23% of the total production of Lebanese fruits. Lebanon stands out as a distinguished apple producer in the region despite the struggle of its agriculture of Apples in recent years.
It is said that the Apple Fruit was introduced to our agriculture in the 1800’s by the French Jesuit Monks. It is also said that more varieties were brought in by our soldiers returning from Europe at the WWII ending. I can’t confirm nor deny any of it since I couldn’t find a record of that history.
I can however atteste that Lebanon abounds with Apple in varieties. You can see their trees everywhere, and in all villages and towns. I myself carry dear childhood memories of the Lebanese apples of different types and colors. Maybe the most marking was the luring aroma of the steaming apple jam drifting from the over-sized casseroles in our kitchen.
Apples were brought to us in wooden boxes from our family lands. The harvest would be abundant, and most of it required preserving, which was undertaken in two different categories.
Part of the harvest would be stored in the Fridge Building in Tripoli, known as Al–Berrad, and consumed gradually by the family throughout the year. The other part would be cooked at home into Apple Jam, and preserved in the Provision Room or Staple Room of our kitchen.
The apples were peeled, cored, cut into small cubes, and collected into these over-sized casseroles to undergo the process of transitioning into delicious jam. I remember my mother doing her best to keep us away the concocting preparation; too tempting yet too risky hot for us kids.
Moorabba, or Emrabba in the speaking Lebanese, is the term we use for Jam. It indicates the process of making the jam. It translates into “that which is squashed, compressed, and preserved.” As a child learning the language at our relocation to Lebanon, that sounded kind of funny to me since that is the same term we use to indicate a “well raised person”. Kind of an analogy, isn’t it?
The Homemade Jams of different fruits were canned and stored in our provision room. They were always available at home throughout the year.
I loved in particular (still do) that our apple jams were not too sweet, that they contain chunks of the fruits, and that they were spiced with Cinnamon and Nutmeg, and enhanced with a dose of Rosewater.
You might be wondering how could the Jam be of less sugar and maintain its Yummy Jammy Jam status.
First, we use red apples that are fresh but ripe, which are naturally sweeter hence produce a sweet jam without the need to add much sugar. Then, we have the cinnamon that brings in its dose of sweetness. The quantity of the sugar can then be reduced significantly.
I have seen jams done with half a dozen cups of sugar, almost equal quantity of the fruit if not more. The commercially produced ones are usually as sugary, with some very few exceptions. The outcome is always a consumption of more sugar than fruit, and that tastes as such.
The purpose of jam was initially for the preservation of fruits throughout the seasons. It became an enjoyable staple and an ingredient for pastries and desserts. I love to believe that we can still enjoy it with more fruits than sugar, henceforth I am sharing this recipe with you today. May you enjoy it!
“Poor quality fruit makes poor quality jam. The secret to making really delicious jam is to make it in small quantities from gorgeous fresh fruit.” ~ The Guardian, Life and Style, 2010
The Morabba Apple Jam with Cinnamon and Rosewater
- 4 cups Red Apples (ripe but fresh) peeled and diced
- 2/3 cup Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1 Lemon (juiced)
- 2 sticks Cinnamon (small)
- 2 tsps Rosewater Optional
- 1 500ml Glass Jam Can with Lid or 2 of 250ml each (must be sterilized)
- 1 Tablespoon (metal) to freeze for the Jam completion's test
- Clean Fabric + Elastic band to cover the jar during cooling time
Warm the sugar in the microwave (or the oven). You need it just warm enough without melting or caramelizing.
Warming the sugar is important. It allows a quicker boiling hence cooking of the fruits, which preserves their fresh taste.
In a large casserole, add the warmed sugar to the apple cubes and mix them well. Add the remaining ingredients all and turn on the heat to medium-high heat. Stir regularly until the mixture starts steaming.
Lower the heat to medium-low, and leave the mixture to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes for the apples to tender and the jam to thicken.
TESTING COMPLETION: IMPORTANT TIP TO ENSURE THE JAM IS DONE:
Freeze the tablespoon in the freezer for a minute or so. At the 20 minutes of the jam simmering, bring the tablespoon and dribble several JAM drops on it.
Wait few seconds then run your finger through the jam to see if it leaves a distinct track or if the surface wrinkles.
If it doesn't, you need to keep cooking the jam until it does. Repeat the test few minutes later. Do not exceed the total of 30 minutes.
Cooling and Storing
Turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon sticks, and allow the jam to set down for few minutes. Carefully transfer the jam into the jar. Cover with the clean fabric and hold it tight with the elastic band.. Set aside to cool down.
Once well cooled at room temperature, seal the jar with its lid, and store in the refrigerator. It can last you for about three weeks.
MORE RECIPES OF FRUITS TO ENJOY