Jam making is no easy task, as it is as much about science as it is about art. The right proportions of fresh fruits to sugar, the role of pectin, a natural setting agent that helps the jam set, and the seasons that yield optimal ripeness of fruits to be preserved, all fall under the technical side of preserving. For Vicky Cheng, executive chef of Vea, preserving has been a budding interest, until recently he realized his interest into his latest charity project, a special edition strawberry bird’s nest jam with a special meaning.
strawberry jams are considered an entry-level jam for novices, and one of the most popular jams. Through an earlier strawberry promotion at Vea earlier this year, Vicky grew a deeper understanding on the different qualities of the most prized strawberries from Korea and Japan. Gaining the knowledge equipped him with an opportunity to explore in preserving. After numerous recipe tests, the prototype of his strawberry jam was created. As his daughter’s first birthday approached, Vicky considered a charity offering as his gift as a parent to his daughter, thus the creation of an exclusive jam.
Unlike traditional means of preserving which often yields a smoothly set spread of cooked fruit, Vicky Cheng’s strawberry jam is heartier. He created his jam with Japanese white strawberries, uniquely beige and aromatic that melts on the palate. Through macerating and rapid but short intervals of boiling with vanilla and rock sugar, bird’s nests are added to the mix and cooked until the hot berry compote thickens. The finished jam, thick with just the right amount of sugar added, is ladled into sterilized jars and ready to be served.
For special sentimental value, Vicky has named his first preserve after his daughter Elizabeth as a dedication to her first birthday. The limited-edition jam is part of a charity project in aids to underprivileged families in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Vicky Cheng’s exploration to preserving is expanding, with possibilities of more jams made in the future.
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