Monday, June 3, 2013

Jamun Season!

Jamun juice
Picking some berries for the first time this year called for a celebration. I removed the seeds, crushed them a bit, poured water and let them steep for an hour in the fridge. Then I added a dash of lemon, sugar and a touch of salt. It was wonderfully refreshing. The juice can also be made by boiling the fruit in water. The colour gets more intense when the fruit becomes fully ripe.

The fragrant blossoms(in the first picture) attract a lot of bees and butterflies
Every year when the jamun/Indian blackberry starts to ripen, there's more bird activity on my tree. The slightest tinge of dark pink shows up by the end of May and in my head I go yay. I don't really notice until the ground where some juicy ripe fruit has fallen becomes a picnic spot for the most common birds in our area. I'm glad some birds don't have to venture out too far during this season. My home-grown sparrows and two crows are practically living on the tree. That's during the day. I'm not a big fan of crows but these two left the nest on my mango tree recently and maybe they would have flown for food or away but since the berries are abundant they are still hanging around.:)

Nothing tastes better than home-grown!

The photo above was taken a few years ago. This fruit is known by several names like the Java plum, black plum, and jambul. It goes by the name jamun in many parts of India. In Assam it's called jaam and in my mother tongue we call it jambu. Its botanical name is Syzygium cumini and it's native to several south-east Asian countries. According to Wiki, the jamun has been spread overseas from India by Indian emigrants and at present is common in former tropical British colonies.

The fruit is slightly acidic but we love to have the really ripe ones as they turn soft and sweet. Because of the presence of anthocyanin, a plant pigment, having the fruit colours the tongue purple. 

Jamun chutney
I also rustled up some jamun chutney today. In some oil I added panch puran and whole dried chillies. Then I added a quarter teaspoon each of  coriander, cumin, turmeric, and red chilli powder. Sprinkled some water so that the spices would not burn. Then I added thirty pitted berries with one large sliced tomato. Stirred for a while then added a dash of salt and two teaspoons of sugar. After a few minutes, it was time to remove the chutney from the fire. The combination of sweet and acidic was wonderful!

Jamun reminds me of my childhood. During the hot days of summer we would sit under the tree and have the fruit with salt. The smell of fallen fruit would fill the air. It wasn't just these berries. It was the combined smells of other summer fruits like mangoes, passion fruit, and jackfruit. Overpowering! Jamun also reminds me of a wine recipe that my blog friend Helen of My Rustic Bajan Garden  gave me a few years ago. Here it is.

To make the wine get a large covered plastic or ceramic container. Place several cups of jamun. Do not wash the fruit. Add sugar to the top, about one cup to every two cups of jamun. Add cinnamon and cloves. Cover and leave in a dark place for twenty one days and no longer. Remove jamun and spices. Strain and bottle.
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