Amla Indian Gooseberries (and other fruits) Preserved in Syrup
Amla (or other fruits) Murabba
Suresh Chandra Gupta
This recipe comes from the Preserves and Pickles diary of my late father Suresh Chandra Guota, written sometimes in the 1940s, when he did courses on commercial preserve making as a Sugar Chemist. The sugar factory where he worked, also made jams, sauces and pickles.
This recipe can be used for other fruits like green mangoes, Petha (Ash gourd) and apples. For making a Murabba, the amla should be of high quality and not too ripe. Mangoes/apples/ash gourd will need to be peeled first, but Aamla does not require peeling.
Amla is a very rich source of Vitamin C. It is considered a good fruit in Ayurvedic medicine. Amla as dried fruit is powdered and added to many stomach remedies and often used in traditional Indian hair shampoos. Amla oil is considered an excellent tonic for keeping hair strong and shiny. Vitamin D in it helps to absorb calcium and strengthens bones. It has diuretic, laxative, cardio-protective, cooling, and anti-infective properties. It is rich in antioxidants and helps to keep Cholesterol down.
1 kg. Amla (or any other fruit of choice)
1 1/2 tsp. lime/choona powder (available from chemist or Pan wallas in India) or alum/phitkari (hydrated aluminium potassium sulfate)
Enough cold water to cover amlas placed in a bowl
Pan of water to boil amlas in
1 kg. sugar
1 1/2 litre water for syrup
1-2 tbsp. milk or lemon juice, to remove scum from syrup
Stab each fruit in a few places using a fork.
Dissolve lime powder/alum/phitkari in the bowl water, making a 2-3% solution.
Soak amlas in this water for 12 hours. If amlas are bitter, you need to soak them in this solution for 4-6 days, changing the solution every 24 hours. Other fruits are soaked in lime or salt water for 12 hours only. This soaking also increases the amount of sugar a fruit can absorb, softens the hard fruit and reduces the bitterness of certain fruits.
Wash the fruit well under running cold water, removing all traces of lime/alum.
Boil water in a pan, add fruit and boil until fruit is soft, but not mushy. Time depends on what fruit you are using. For example, ginger will take 1- 1 1/2 hour and ash gourd will take only 5-8 minutes. If your fruit is too firm, adding a pinch of bicarbonate helps, but this may damage the vitamin content.
Drain fruits and keep aside.
Make syrup with sugar and water, cleaning the scum off by adding a tablespoon or two of milk or lemon juice. The consistency of syrup should be of one wire. This means that a drop stretched between forefinger and thumb results in the formation of a single wire.
Add fruit and simmer until the syrup looks thick like honey.
Bottle in hot, sterilised jars, close lids and leave them up-side down. As they cool, there will be a vacuum in the jars, which will prolong the preserves life.