Here's the story while I keep you guessing. You know us gardeners always like to experiment with something new. New vegetables or exotic fruit, or a different variety like yellow tomatoes, or purple beans, or red carrots etc. Sometimes these experiments are a great success and they enrich our dinner table, other times they are not. The latter may be due to problems germinating perhaps, or just not ripening properly, or producing lots of foliage, but no fruit, the list goes on.
Failure may also be due to the fact that the resulting produce simply isn't very nice. Maybe it's a really stringy bean or you've always had a prejudice against pumpkins and approaching them again after years you find out why you didn't like them in the first place (it's the consistency... however I've made a large batch of curried pumpkin soup for the freezer, which I find tolerable).
Well my experiment gone wrong this year (apart from the pumpkin...) is a variety of greeny pink aubergine. I saw the seeds and thought: "hmm, I like aubergines, grilled, as Melanzane alla Parmigiana, under oil, in a ratatouille etc, why do they always have to be purple." They turned out to be earlier ripening than their purple cousins. One plant died misteriously, but a good 7 or 8 of them were doing well.
So it came to the first harvest, I sliced them and noticed an abundance of hard seeds inside. That would be quite good if I wanted to grow this variety again next year, but the taste test showed them to be tough and stringy and pithy with the seeds even when grilled for some time. Not very nice at all!!!
So here I was, with a bunch of happily producing aubergine plants with inedible aubergines. What to do with them? I was tempted to throw the whole lot straight onto the compost heap. Then I passed a stall at the Medieval festa of our town recently (for photos see Facebook...), and they had various homemade preserves on tasting there. And amongst other exotica there was an aubergine and chocolate jam! And you know what? It tasted good.
I didn't want to be rude and ask for the recipe, so today I made up my own. Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised!
- 1kg aubergines, cubed
- 2 large apples cored and roughly chopped
- 50g cacao powder (maybe less...)
- 600g sugar
- Simmer the aubergines and apples in about a cup of water until well soft.
- Press the mixture through a tomato mill or a mesh thus getting rid of the seeds and skins.
- Return to the pan and bring back to the boil.
- Add cacao powder and sugar and stir in rapidly on a high temperature. Boil for just a few minutes, stirring constantly until the the bubbles plop on the surface.
- Bottle in hot sterilised jars.