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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ALMECINAS (the berries) - RECEIPE HACKBERRY JAM


AROUND THE ETNA – European Hackberry 
Photo by: filippo 1930

amez, the tree, OCast. almenzes,  fasebuche, fazenbache, Hisp Ar. almáys, L. Celtis australis, Ar mays, Eng. European hackberry, lotus berry, southern hackberry. It was cultivated in the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada (Granada). The yellowish green eatable berries turn red and then dark purple when ripe and are collected in early fall. They are about 1/3” round, very sweet and fleshy drupes. Villena recommends that they be peeled and cut. They have used to make sweets and marmalades. The berries and the leaves are known for their medicinal properties as astringent, lenitive, antidysenteric, stomachic, amenorrheic, and antidiarrheal. The seeds produce oil. [ES: Calle. “Almecinas.” Sep 20, 04; ES: “Almez.” Dec 12, 01; ES: Celtis. Jan 26, 04; Villena/Calero. 2002:42b]



RECIPE HACKBERRY JAM 
Celtis australis
from Jim's Plants
(Note: the berries are not sold commercially.) 

Ingredients
2 c berries to make 1 c jam
1 c water from boiling berries
up to ½ c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice 
(Note: no pectin is used as this was a 19th C discovery)

Preparation
Remove the stems and wash the berries. Put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the skin pops. Mash them and cook 5 more minutes.
Put berries in a strainer over another saucepan to save the pulp and water. Push the pulp through the strainer with a wooden spoon. Take ½ cup water from the first saucepan and pour it over the remaining pulp in the strainer and repeat this operation. Pull skin off pulp and add pulp to sauce pan.  
Add sugar slowly, tasting often as the berry is very sweet it may not require all the sugar. Add lemon juice to saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir for 15-25 minutes until the liquid thickens. Pour into sterilized jars.

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