Mango season is starting. Turn fresh, juicy varieties into this unusual jam.
Do you ever miss canning during the winter months? I sure do. I sometimes assuage the urge with a batch of Pickled Brussels sprouts or maybe a jar of Pickled Baby Carrots or even some Flavored Applesauce.
But once spring starts to show its head, I find myself canning jam – a lot. Just this week I have made a batch of Blackberry Maple Jam (made with frozen blackberries), another batch of Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Honey, a batch of Tropical Conserve, and a batch of this unusual Mango Star Anise Jam.
What Kind of Mangoes Should I Use?
Mangoes are available all year at the grocery store, but they are usually hard and tasteless in the winter. They look good, but go from not-ripe-at-all to brown and bruised, never reaching the juicy sweetness that makes mango one of my favorite fruits .
But once the weather starts to warm a bit, the mangoes improve in quality. There are thousands of mango varieties, although only 2 or 3 are ever available at my local grocery stores. It doesn’t matter, they are all good and will all work in this recipe. Use some very ripe mangoes and at least one that is soft, but still a bit under-ripe. This combination assures that there is enough acid for the jam to set.
If fresh mangoes haven’t made it to your store yet you can still make this jam. Use frozen mango, it works just as well.
What is Star Anise?
Have you ever seen a star-shaped spice berry? That is star anise. It comes from an evergreen plant and has a resinous quality similar to other evergreen berries; e.g. capers, pine nuts, juniper berries.
Star anise has a licorice flavor that is more subtle and herb-y than the more familiar anise seed. Like anise seed it is used in both savory and sweet foods. But the two are not related and really cannot be substituted for each other. Star anise is like anise’s doppelgänger, there are some similarities but they aren’t interchangeable.
The best way to use star anise is either as an infusion or to grind it yourself. I also add broken star anise pieces to homemade tea blends.
Processing the Jam
Like all home canned sweet spreads, Mango Jam with Star Anise must be processed in a water bath canner or stored in the refrigerator. Follow our step-by-step Water Bath Canning Tutorial if you are unfamiliar with the process.
- 1 cup water
- 2 star anise
- 4 cups chopped mango, about 3 large mangoes
- 2 cups sugar
- Add star anise and water to a small saucepan to make an infusion. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 20 minutes. Remove star anise.
- In a large Dutch oven, combine mango and infused water.
- Simmer until mango is tender, adding small amounts of water to prevent sticking if necessary.
- Lightly mash cooked mango with a potato masher.
- Add sugar. Stir over medium heat until sugar has melted.
- Turn up heat to medium-high. Cook rapidly until mixture gels (mounds on a spoon).
- Spoon into clean, half-pint jars. Top with two-piece caps.
- Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Considerations When Working with Mango
A couple of things to be aware of:
- Some people have a poison-ivy like reaction when cutting mango, especially green, under-ripe mangoes. You may want to use gloves while chopping the mango for this recipe.
- Mango has lots of pectin. Therefore, you may find that this jam mounds up on a spoon long before it reaches the 220 degree gelling temperature. If this happens don’t keep cooking, you’ll end up with a sticky mess. Make sure that the mixture has at least reached the boiling point, and then spoon it into the jars and process as normal.