I try to be crafty, but usually whenever I bring home the “crafts” I make during my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, my hubby takes one look and says,”Umm, honey…what’s that?”
Some of my mom friends, if you throw some felt, hot glue and googly eyes in their general direction, in a few minutes they have created felt finger puppets for their kiddo to play with, and they will be smiling from ear to ear because it gives them such joy to take googly eyes and glue and make beauty out of it.
I get how they feel because I revel in the effort it takes to pull together ingredients like chicken, garlic, Thai basil and rice and make something that makes my Thai hubby say after a long day of work,”Alroy mak (So delicious)! This is just what I needed!”
So for Christmas I decided to not even try a DIY gift like I did last year—personalizing white mugs with gold Sharpie marker and then even after baking it in the oven the marker eventually faded off—and just make something food-related: tamarind jam.
“What is tamarind? And what does it go best with?” Were the two questions I got asked the most as I handed off my wrapped up tamarind jam jars to my friends.
Tamarind is a fruit that grows in tropical areas like in Thailand, parts of Africa and Mexico. Whenever I make tamarind paste for my Thai recipes, I can’t resist licking it off my fingers at the very end, and as my lips pucker, I savor the sour, sweet, citrusy flavor.
And tamarind jam goes awesome with:
- Mixed in plain or vanilla yogurt
- Crepes, pancakes, waffles or french toast topping
- Use it for Thai recipes like in my Thai Chicken Pizza or Pad Thai Sauce
- On top of baked brie (I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would be awesome)
- Try it mixed in or on top of anything you want to add a sweet, sour flavor and see what happens!
I’ve always thought it would be fun to try to make tamarind jam, since tamarind paste is nice and thick anyways and all I would have to do is add sugar, and I thought it would probably taste like an orange marmalade of sorts since it’s sour and sweet.
I was super nervous about making it though because I hadn’t ever tried it before, and it was going to be a gift for my friends so if I failed, I would have to rush to Target on Christmas Eve and buy something from the half-empty pilfered shelves to give them.
I did some research on how to make tamarind jam, tested out some recipes to figure out the best sugar to tamarind paste ratio, bought some cute Ball jam jars from Target, and it all came together much quicker and easier than I imagined. The most time consuming part, but also the best part I think, is making the tamarind paste.
To make the paste, I let the tamarind soak in water that just barely covers it for 10 minutes or so and then squeezed it in my hands to get out all the leftover seeds and strings and make it into a nice paste. You can also buy tamarind paste at the Asian market or online, but I haven’t tried making tamarind jam out of that. I think squeezing the tamarind myself is relaxing—like squeezing one of those stress balls!
And as I squished, stirred and tasted my tamarind jam, I felt such love for the process and getting to gift it to my friends. I hope you enjoy it too, and let me know what you try it on!
This sweet, sour tropical tamarind jam is a fun, easy gift for family and friends!
- Place the seedless tamarind in a bowl. Put water in the bowl until the tamarind is just covered.
- Let the tamarind sit for 10 minutes to soften up.
- Use your hands to squeeze the tamarind, and break it up.
- As you squeeze, take out the stems and *seeds and throw them away.
- As you squeeze the tamarind, it will ooze out between your fingers and form a paste in the bowl. Once the seeds and stems are mostly gone (a few always seem to escape and that’s ok), and a paste has formed in the bowl, take a cup of the paste and put it in a small pot.
- Add the sugar and mix.
- Warm the mixture to medium low heat.
- Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Taste the mixture. If you think it needs more sugar, feel free to add more. The jam should be thick enough without you needing to add anything else, but if you want it extra thick feel free to make a slurry of 3 tsp. or so of cornstarch with 1 tsp of water and then add it to the jam at the end and stir until thickened.
- Add the jam to your jam jars, and seal them.
- If you don’t want to use the jam right away, feel free to boil the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water to seal the jars and preserve the jam. (I didn’t do this step. I just told people to refrigerate the jam, since it was quicker for me and not a big deal to refrigerate it).
- Use the jam with toast, on crackers or with cheese! Just experiment, and let me know what you like it with best!
*Even though I always buy seedless tamarind at the Asian store, there always seems to be a few seeds and stems left in it still!
Out of one seedless tamarind package, I get about 1 1/4c. to 1 1/2c. of tamarind paste. When I made this for Christmas I bought three packages of seedless tamarind and filled up about six 8 oz. jars with it. Just remember for 1 cup of tamarind use about 1 cup of sugar to taste.
- Serving Size: 2 8oz. jam jars