Friday, December 03, 2010

Strawberry Tree Jam

My mother has two Strawberry Trees (Arbutus Unedo) in her backyard in the Bay Area of California. They are beautiful evergreen trees with a bell-shaped flower than produces bright red berries - thus the nickname "Strawberry Tree."
Several members of our family met at my mother's home for Thanksgiving week. As we were discussing this tree one day we asked my mother if the berries were edible. She didn't know, so an iPhone was produced and we discovered that, indeed, the berry from a Strawberry Tree is considered edible.
Although the consensus on the Internet was not entirely positively as to whether the fruit tasted good, being the adventurous type my son and I popped a few. We loved them!
The consistency is much the same as an ordinary strawberry. Although the outside of the fruit is red in color, the inside has a beautiful peach tint.
When tasting something for the first time, one has a tendency to try to make a comparison to another familiar taste in order to isolate the flavor. We decided the fruit from a Strawberry Tree is a cross between a strawberry, peach, nectarine, and mango. In other words it has a taste all its own! 
There were several references on the Internet to jam that can be produced from this fruit, but there was no recipe to be found. We decided to roll up our sleeves and try our hand at it! Because the consistency of the Strawberry Tree fruit was much the same as a strawberry, we just decided to use a strawberry jam recipe found on the pectin package to make our jam! The result was fabulous!
The only negative characteristic of this jam is that it is slightly gritty when eaten alone. The outside peel of the fruit is a little course, so that makes the jam a teeny bit "granular" when one tastes it by itself. However, when the jam is spread on bread that "granular" quality completely disappears with the fibers of the bread and it is absolutely delicious! The color of the jam is a beautiful peach color with little flecks of red from the outer peel. So pretty!
So here's the moral of this story... I wouldn't try to make jam out of any old shrub you find in your yard, but if you happen to have a Strawberry Tree in your garden don't let those little berries go to waste! ;o)