These days it is hard to write about food. It feels like my insides are bleeding as if it is me getting stabs over and over every time I hear about a new attack in Israel. My heart is in Jerusalem with her people. I wish I could express myself as beautifully as my teacher and friend Yaffa Epstein.
Every day of the week brings us closer to Shabbat and gives us hopes that with community prayers, peace will come to our land. Women this week baked challot all over the world to hasten this peace. This project even made it into the Guinness records. May our efforts bring their intended goal closer.
Meanwhile, I kept thinking of Israel also when I was making the etrog jelly. I usually do it after Sukkot, and this time, just the smell of it made all my cutting efforts worth it.
Etrog can be quite tough to cut, especially, if you need to dice it into small pieces. But the wonderful smell of the fruit makes it all totally worth your while. Try to use a big and sharp chef’s knife for this. It will make the process easier, but be careful with it, of course. Make sure to get rid of all of the seeds.
Once the etrogim are cut (it’s not wise to use just one etrog as you will have too little jam) place it in a big bowl and fill it with cold water to the top.
Change water twice daily, or even more, if you are at home. I do it in the morning and evening before and after work. This is done to clear off any bitterness from the membranes.
Change water for at least two days. The etrog mass will enlarge, so change the bowl to a bigger one, if you need.
Strain the etrog mass in the colander and place in a heavy pot. For 5-6 etrogim add about 1/4 of a cup water and about 3-4 cups of sugar. I only use raw or organic cane sugar, so hopefully, it is not too unhealthy.
You will have to adjust sugar to your taste later on.
Some people add corn syrup. I don’t. I prefer it natural, sometimes adding just a bit of ground ginger.
Once you have your etrog boiled, reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 2 hours, not only stirring but tasting it constantly adjusting for more sugar if needed. It is preferred to use a wooden spoon to stir. Luckily I got a beautiful one just for these occasions brought to be all the way from Alaska by my lovely daughter, Ester.
Once the jam is done to your taste, put in into glass jars rinsed with boiling water or sterilized if you need to keep them for long without refrigeration.
I usually put my jelly into a few small jars and give them to those who brought etrogim to me. Naturally, we enjoy some if the jam ourselves.
May the sweet smell of this magical fruit bring us closer to home.
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