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  • Brian Bender, PhD

How to Make Ikarian Jam

Ikaria, Greece is one of the healthiest places in the world, having a large population of centenarians who live active lives well into old age.

So if you’re interested in learning how to cook an Ikarian diet, you’re going to need to know how to make some tasty treats!

Ikaria has a mild, Mediterranean climate that makes it perfect for growing plenty of delicious fruit. So what can you do with all of those leftover figs and peaches from season? Make Ikarian jam!

A great recipe comes from Diane Kochilas, shown below. Like many traditional Greek meals, be prepared for a rather lengthy process. But don’t worry. Although it’s lengthy, it is not difficult.

But that is part of Ikaria’s secret to health. The long preparation process not only adds taste; it adds value above and beyond a more delicious concoction. The lengthy preparation process adds benefit to your mental health, leads to healthier eating practices, and provides the perfect opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

I highly recommend Kochilas’ book on traditional Greek cooking, The Country Cooking of Greece, to explore further. Here’s a snapshot of this recipe that produces roughly 4, 1-pint jars.

First, put 8 cups of coarsely chopped green or black figs, 3 peaches, and 2 cups of water into a medium pot. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Figs and peaches.

Next, transfer everything to a food processor. Chop or puree to your desired consistency. Then, transfer everything back into your pot.

Cover the mixture with roughly 2-4 cups of sugar, depending on your taste (I prefer 2, as the natural sugar from ripe fruit is plenty for my sweet tooth). Cover the pot, and let it sit at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.

Then, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring gently to mix everything together. Boil for 10 minutes, covered. Then reduce the heat to low and uncover the pot. The original recipe calls for 3-4 rose geranium leaves, but in its absence you can add other herbs for additional flavor (I’ve added mint). Then simmer for 25-30 minutes.

When large bubbles are breaking on the surface, turn off the heat and stir in 1/3-cup **fresh squeezed lemon juice**.

Stirring the jam.

Let the jam cool in the pot. Then, transfer the jam to your jars. (Make sure your jars can withstand high temperatures from boiling water.) Screw the lids on loosely and place them in a pot with water high enough to come midway to two-thirds up the height of each jar. Bring to a boil, then simmer for ~5 minutes.

Carefully remove the jars (they will be hot!), tighten the lids, and place them upside down.

Store the jam in jars.

Let them cool, and store them in a cool, dry place. They will last forever! Well at least as long as you can stand not to pop it open and spread it on your morning toast!

Not only is this treat particularly tasty, it makes a great gift for family and friends. Trust me, they will be impressed!

Ikarian jam on biscuits.

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