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Vanilla-Rum Chestnut Jam Recipe

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Vanilla-Rum Chestnut Jam Recipe

GG Mora | Nov 9, 2005 10:45 AM

I offered to post this recipe if anyone was interested, and someone was. This was originally posted elsewhere last November.

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While putting up preserves over the summer, I came across a recipe for Chestnut Jam with Vanilla and Rum, which sounded so good that I determined to make some as soon as I could get good chestnuts. On Monday, I found chestnuts at the grocery store and bought 6 lbs. On Tuesday, I peeled 6 lbs. of chestnuts. On Wednesday, I made (and canned) about 8 pints of the most luscious chestnut cream imaginable. Recipe and method follow.

Theory:

Recipe paraphrased from Hillaire Walden

Chestnut Jam with Vanilla and Rum

± 2 3/4 LBS unpeeled chestnuts
1 vanilla bean
3 C light brown sugar
2 TBSP dark rum

Peel the chestnuts however you see fit.

Put peeled chestnuts and vanilla bean in large sauce pan and just cover with water. Cover pan and bring to a boil; simmer until chestnuts are tender (about 30 min.). Remove and set aside vanilla bean. Drain chestnuts, reserving cooking liquid. Purée chestnuts. There should be about 2 2/3 cups of purée.

Put purée, sugar, and 7 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid in heavy pan. Split vanilla bean and scrape out seeds; add seeds and bean to pan. Heat mixture gently, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, then raise heat and boil until mixture is thick. Remove and discard vanilla bean; stir in rum.

Ladle hot jam into sterilized jars, seal, and process in water bath.

Practice:

Because I had 6 lbs. of chestnuts, I planned on approximately doubling the recipe. So I used 2 vanilla beans.

The reserved liquid was required at the purée step – all of it, plus about a cup of tap water – elsewise, puréeing would have been impossible. Even so, the purée was as thick as good mashed potatoes. And there was closer to 10 cups of it (not 5 1/3, as would have been expected [if the original recipe was accurate]).

The purée, at this point, seemed a little rough, and there were specks of chopped peel in it, since thoroughly peeling a chestnut is nearly impossible. For mortals, anyway. So I took the extra and compulsive step of working the paste through a very fine tamis. The result was a perfectly velvety salaciously smooth purée.

If I were to have followed the proportions of the recipe, my reckoning is that I should have used upwards of 2 lbs. of sugar – which seemed excessive to me. So I decided to start with a pound. So I put the purée and the scraped-out vanilla beans and 1 pound of (dark) brown sugar into the pot, along with about a cup of water and a generous pinch of salt. And I whisked it well until it was smoothly combined. And I tasted it...and the sugar level seemd just right. Any more, and you wouldn't have tasted the chestnuts. In retrospect, I would probably use light brown sugar if I were to make it again (which there is every possibility of).

As for boiling the mixture until thick: it already seemed reasonably thick, so I only boiled it for about 15 minutes. And anyway, thickness in this case is entirely subjective. I tried to imagine how thick I'd want my chestnut "jam", and how I'd use it (and I didn't get much farther the "Hmm. Um, eat it off a spoon?") and I just kind of intuited a not-very-thick chestnut "jam".

For rum, I used Cruzan Black Strap Rum, which seemed to finish the deal just right.

Well. So. Then I canned it. Put it up in pretty little hex-jars with gold-tone lids. And I'll gift the very special with it come the hols. And eat no small amount of it myself, no doubt. I can hardly describe how good it is.

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