A delicious homemade mango jam delicately flavored with saffron and cardamom. Make a batch using juicy, ripe golden mangoes and savor them till the season is long past. Make this no pectin, no preservative, refrigerator jam recipe and follow my tips for perfect jam every time!
Mangoes, mangoes, mangoes! I don’t know of any other fruit which evokes such strong emotions. Poets sing about them, writers weave plots surrounding them and almost everyone I know goes ga-ga over these sunshine beauties. I sorely miss the Salem, Bainganapalli, Totapuri and Alphonso varieties back home. Even though mango season in India is long past, I still find some in my local American grocer. It is a hardy Brazilian variety, surprisingly delicious, and quite flavorful when ripened. I know these will disappear soon as well, so I decided to capture their sunshine in jars in jam form.
The days are getting shorter but the Texas sun is still warm and bright. I kinda like it that way. It makes me all warm and tingly inside.
I regularly make refrigerator jams using whatever fruit is in season. Peaches, apricots, strawberries are some of my favorite ones. I bought some mango jam from our local Farmer’s Market, but sadly, the sugar overwhelmed the mango flavor, and it was lacking in a certain sophistication that is due this King of fruits. A mango is a fruit that you MUST treat right.
Saffron and cardamom go enticingly well with mangoes and that is what I decided my batch of homemade jam should be flavored with. Delicate strands of golden saffron and fragrant green cardamom elevate the depth of flavor that the humble mango has to offer. Go easy with these two though, just a little bit goes a long way.
Homemade mango jam without any pectin or preservatives really just takes about 30 minutes to make, and that’s including prep time. You just need to take care of a few pointers while making jam at home.
- Cooking vessel – Use a thick, wide, slightly deep pot. I used my wide 6-qt pot and while it could fit at least 8 cups of fruit, I would typically use only 4 cups per batch. This makes a generous amount of jam for a small family. The reason you want a large pot even for a small batch is so that all the fruit is heated and broken down evenly, so that the fruit simply doesn’t “stew” or cook into pulp in there. This brings me to my second point.
- Heat – Essential to making good jam. You cannot walk away from a pot of jam on the stove. Keep boiling it and stir it frequently to prevent burning. It is the heat that will activate the natural sugars in the fruit. This leads to my third point.
- Sugar – how much and what kind, is a matter of personal choice. But, I would use white granular or Demerara sugars only. And the quantity? Well, you are not looking to make syrup or sauce, but jam. And for jam to “gel” or set properly, there must be enough sugar. Some recipes call for as much as a 1:1 ratio but I have found that a 1:2 ratio of sugar to fruit works well. Do not even think about sugarless jam, it’s sacrilegious and makes no sense at all.
- Pectin or rather, no added pectin – Most fruit have some natural pectin in them. While making jam, it is important to choose fruit just ripe enough and not under or even over ripe. Frozen fruit does work, provided the fruit was frozen properly at its peak freshness. Lemon juice acts as a natural agent to enable setting the jam.
Armed with all these basic info, it is time to get jamming! Add your preferred flavoring agents towards the end. I used a bit of cardamom powder and saffron. You can use vanilla (beans or extract), cinnamon, cloves, ginger or anything else. Get creative!
Find detailed recipe and tips on how to check for jam doneness below.
- Ripe mango - 4 heaped cups, finely chopped
- Sugar – 1¾ - 2 cups
- Lemon juice – from a large lemon
- Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
- Saffron strands - a pinch
- Peel, pit and finely chop the mango (one large or 2 medium ones). Sprinkle sugar and lemon juice and toss to combine. (Use 1¾ cup if your fruit is very sweet or else, add the full 2 cup.)
- Place this mixture in a thick-bottomed, large, deep pot. Bring the mixture to a boil on medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Now add cardamom and saffron, reduce heat and cook till jam comes together and the mixture is reduced. Stir in between and mash some (but not all) of the fruit pieces with the back of a ladle or a clean, dry potato masher. (See notes for checking doneness of the jam.)
- Once done, remove from heat immediately. Spoon jam into clean, sterilized glass jars, cool completely, cover tightly with lid and refrigerate. Keeps well for a couple of weeks (psst… and even up to a month if used and stored properly).
2. Before starting, place a couple of small plates in the freezer. To check if jam is done, place a blob of hot jam mixture on the cold plate. Cool it for a few seconds in the freezer and run a finger across it. If the mixture gels and you are able to run your finger through it without it being runny, the jam is done. Else, cook for a couple more minutes and test again.
3. You can also test using the spoon method. Dip a metal spoon into the hot jam mixture and allow it to slide off the spoon. Initially, it will fall off as individual drops. When jam is done, it will slide off the spoon as one mass (or a sheet).
4. Always remember that the jam will thicken when cool. So take care not to overcook it. It takes practice and patience to tell when exactly the jam is done, but you’ll get there!
Make sure you have some bread handy to fix yourself a quick snack with this delicious mango jam!
If you don’t have saffron, simply make mango cardamom jam. But try to hunt down some authentic saffron. I assure you, you’ll hooked to its flavor and allure!
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Do you like mangoes? How do you savor them even when they are not really in season? Do try this no-pectin jam recipe and enjoy along with your morning toast or sandwich snack. Mango jam makes a great PB&J sandwich too. Do give it a try!
Do check out my other jam recipes.
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