Preserving fruits, certainly in Austria, tends to mean making marmalade. If you don’t want to eat sweet breads, hardly ever make pancakes like that, it’s not the most enticing proposition.
On the other hand, the berries have been taking over my garden.
As many raspberries as I had, I was in need of some way of keeping them other than by freezing. And not so few of them were purple raspberries.
So, why not make some purple raspberry-charapita-sauce?
I’ll admit, it turned out less thickened than it was supposed to. The starch I put in didn’t work too well. It still turned out very tasty.
The idea of trying out something like that came from this year’s Austrian Food Blog Award [site in German]. One of its categories are preserves, so why not try that?
It all came at the right time, anyways.
Like I said, I had only too many raspberries. And then and there, not any raspberries, but purple raspberries, which have a very special aroma.
As ChiliCult, specialized on special, strong flavors as I am, I wanted to combine their peculiar berry flavor with something else that is unusual: with charapita.
The raspberries alone are something else.
I have seen purple raspberries in garden stores by now, but mine did not come from any catalogue.
Rather, I just have normal raspberries (of different types) in my garden, black raspberries aside them – and apparently, they decided to get together and bring about something new.
Born were the purple raspberries.
They have enough thorns, even stronger ones than ordinary raspberries. The berries look rather like raspberries, but ripen to a darker purple.
It promises something special, and it delivers. The taste is rather sweet, the aroma unique. My wife speaks of an apple aroma, I am rather tending towards Haribo (as in gummy bears), given I cannot classify this flavor, special as it is.
Normally I am not a big fan of habanero aromas, be that with or without the extreme pungency these representatives of Capsicum chinense tend to have.
Charapita, however, is at least similar to the chiltepin, which I treasure very much. It is all small and valuable and a true explosion of flavor and pungency.
In the last years, thanks to the marketing genius of Erich Stekovis, charapita had suddenly turned into the most expensive spice in the world. Arguably, it is very hard to grow. And for me, it just came up in a pot of cardamom. Three years ago. And it still grows well.
Given how I thus had two different sources of special aromas ripen at the same time, I wanted to bring them together.
The idea was born.
Preserving is very easy, especially when only making a sauce.
Wash the berries, boil them down with some sugar. Finely chop the charapita berries and add them.
Add a bit of starch… and notice only much later, after finishing, that it had no effect whatsoever. Thus, this definitely turned out a sauce, not a jelly.
Fill it all into new, clean glasses.
There is one trickery I did allow myself: I put the filled glasses into the fridge, as they did not close as airtight as I would have wanted them to, had I cooked marmalade. It keeps well enough, anyways, but a real preserve should have been sealed better.
And what do you do with a hot raspberry sauce?
Uses of a Sweet-Heat-Sauce
The biggest problem with many preserves, especially if one would more likely create and use chilli oil, is the question of their use.
Marmalade, you could put on bread or pancakes. Maybe dab some fruit mousse on a roast. And what do you do with purple raspberry-charapita-sauce?
I have since eaten it with apricot, blueberry, and peach crumble pies, where the purple raspberries’ and charapita’s peculiar aroma nicely blends with the fruit and contrasts with the sweetness.
For salmon, I also used the sauce as a glace. (For this, I used the purple raspberry-charapita-sauce that I had strained through a colander to make it without the raspberry seeds.)
Then I softly fried the salmon and plated it with some additional fresh sauce and Japanese Yuzu Ichimi (yellow chilli with yuzu lemon). An aroma of fat and sweetness and pungency and a bit of acidity like no other.
I still plan to try the purple raspberry-charapita-sauce over frozen yogurt; I assume that this combination of slightly sour coolness and tropical, berry-like pungency will work well.
Thinking of such uses, such fruit sauces are probably just as well made with other berries or fruit.
Getting charapita would likely be the greatest challenge. For me, though: I just have that in my garden. And I can, for once, recommend such fruity combinations for a relative of the habanero peppers like the charapita.
As with all these chiltepin-like, (nearly) wild chile peppers, you just mustn’t let their small size lull you into a false sense of safety.
I used some 10-15 of the tiny charapita with more than 500 grams (around 1 lb.) of berries, and that was just right to already get a touch of pungency and a nice aroma of charapita.
That’s what it’s all about, in my opinion.
Not to create anything extra-hot, disfiguring the flavors of all the ingredients. But to allow a diversity of flavors to harmonize, contrast and be celebrated!