Imagine the 97F weather, “feels like 104F” say the internet weather sites. It is 130pm in the afternoon and a truck pulls up to our house and the doorbell rings. For some reason, a sixth sense for food perhaps, I knew, sitting at my desk without looking out a window, that food had arrived. The man said he was delivering 3 balikbayan boxes from Sister, and I knew what at least one box contained since I was there when she started packing it. Jam. A whole lot of jam. Some 120+ bottles featuring approximately 25 varieties or combinations of fruit and other flavorings! All personally made by Sister last Fall in New York when the fruit was at its peak, and again in the winter for marmalades from citrus fruits in abundance. The guy whose task it was to remove the boxes from the truck and carry it into our home had a look of shock on his face. The first box was nearly as heavy as an equivalent sized boulder. I feared a hernia in the making. He had no support belt. He grunted like he meant it. Even with a dolly it seemed like a gargantuan task…
I noticed that the bottom of the box was stained and damp and feared the worst. So as soon as he set it down and went to get the other two boxes, we immediately slit the tape on the box and inspected the contents. A few bottles had broken near the bottom, but 95+% of the shipment was fine, if a bit sticky. When the delivery guy came back in with the other boxes, he peered into the first one and shook his head. “Jam? Frigging Jam?” is probably what he was thinking, but not in english. Needless to say, he was thanked profusely, tipped very heavily, and counseled to purchase a weight belt to ensure future progeny if he so desired. :) He also watched us open the second box, that contained a small sack of bread flour (I tell you it is SO MUCH better than local bread flour), but the contents were completely covered in flour, for a mouse had found it’s temporary home for either the transpacific crossing or at the local warehouse or pier before delivery. So make sure you wrap sacks of flour or grains in a thick garbage bag before you send some home to friends and relatives to prevent the same fate. But back to the jam…
I know some of you may think I am a bit OTT, or a bit obsessive, but you haven’t met Sister. I was in shock when she described her jam making escapades last fall, and couldn’t imagine how she could have purchased the finest fruit from the Union Square market and other sources, dragged it home by herself, cleaned, peeled, pitted and prepped hundreds of pounds of fruit, and cooked up over two dozen different flavors. YOWKS! At some point she must have had 500 jars of jam in her apartment, waiting to be shipped out to friends, family and anyone she thought might have a jam fetish. Many of the bottles in our boxes were for other family members. But I think Mrs. MM counted some 40+ bottles addressed to us. And we have to eat them within 4-5 months! But take a look at the flavors hand written on the tops of the jars… blackberry, red raspberry, yellow raspberry, damson plum, meyer lemon marmalade, blood orange marmalade, two kinds of apple butter, reine claude plum with vanilla, italian plum, wild strawberry or frais du bois, quince, red currant sauce, etc.
We immediately figured out doubles, tested a few bottles to make sure they weren’t worse for wear from the long voyage, and packed them up to send to friends. A good 15 bottles are sweetening the breakfasts of folks all across Manila and beyond… Thanks Sister, not only on our behalf, but on behalf of everyone else we shared the jam bounty with.
Next stop, Pan de Manila, for some of their soft pulpy pan de sals, the only readily available hot bread within easy reach. Slather on the unsalted butter and savor the jam. Here, a beautiful meyer lemon marmalade with just a hint of bitterness and the wonderful sour/sweet flavor of the juice and pulp. Excellent and one of my favorites along with the blood orange marmalade.
Next, red raspberry jam. Superb. All-natural, no food coloring. The color looks a bit redder in these photos than in reality, but the flavor was also superb. Will have to make some cookies or other baked goods to take advantage of this uncommon bounty.
Finally, some yellow raspberry, which is far less common and something I have never tried before. Maybe it’s just the color or psychological in nature, but I found this less appealing than the red raspberry. The flavor wasn’t as pronounced and the color was a bit muddy. I fear we will all be diabetics in the Marketman household if we are to do justice to these jams, but we are certainly going to at least taste all of them in the weeks ahead!