I’ve been consulting my provençal cookbooks again, this time for jam recipes as there are loads of plums, blackberries and other fruit just waiting to be preserved around here and I thought it would be fun to try something a little bit different this year. I was intrigued to see a couple of recipes suggesting the use of aubergines. Apparently they add bulk. OK, why not?
The Confiture Noire of Provence is typically a mix of whatever fruits and nuts are available locally, including figs, melons, quinces and walnuts, according to Mireille Johnston in her book ‘The Cuisine of the Sun’. I’m going for black fruit as Clare Ferguson suggests in ‘Flavours of Provence’, and I’m including the aubergine but omitting the nuts. The result really is black jam and we’re onto the second jar already – it’s a hit with all the family so another blackberry-picking session may follow imminently.
Makes three x 300ml jars
400g black plums, stoned and chopped into bite-size chunks
300g aubergine, chopped into bite-size chunks
100ml white wine
Juice of a lemon
500g jam sugar
Sterilized jam jars (see note below*)
Place all the ingredients in a preserving pan or sturdy saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil. Stir regularly for ten minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until the mixture is dark and sticky.
To test the set of the jam, place a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes. Remove it and pour a small spoonful of jam onto it. Leave for a couple of minutes and come back to it – the jam should be thick and crinkly, not runny when you touch it.
*To sterilize the jars, you can put them through a hot dishwasher cycle. Alternatively clean them thoroughly in very hot, soapy water. Rinse them and dry in the bottom of a very low oven.