Syrians adore eggplants. They love them so much that they even make sweet things with eggplants, like this jam. Eat it on bread with butter, or with some walnuts crumbled on top. Although that may sound like a strange way to eat eggplant, I encourage you to try this recipe. Even my sister (the only Syrian I know who isn’t an eggplant-lover) eats it with relish!
- In a large bowl, dissolve the calcium hydroxide powder in the warm water. Stir for one minute, then set aside for 30 minutes.
- Any undissolved powder will sink to the bottom. Pour the water into another bowl and throw away any undissolved powder.
- Set the peeled eggplants into the calcium hydroxide solution. Set a plate on top of the bowl to keep them submerged. Soak the eggplants in this way for 24 hours.
- When the 24 hours have passed, drain and rinse the eggplants to rid them of any remaining calcium hydroxide. Soak them in clean tap water for another 15 minutes. Drain.
- Place the eggplants in a large pan and then fill with warm water until the water just barely covers the eggplants. Cook them gently on medium heat for 30 minutes. They should be soft but not mushy.
- Remove the eggplants from the water and let them cool until you can handle them with your hands. Press the eggplants between your palms and gently use your fingers to squeeze out any extra moisture.
- To make the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water in a deep pot. Set the dissolved sugar on high heat, changing it to low heat as soon as the syrup starts to boil. Add the eggplants and cinnamon sticks, stirring occasionally. Simmer the jam for 1 hour.
- Add the citric acid to the pot and keep simmering for another 15 minutes. The eggplants should be somewhat transparent and light-brown in color.
- Set them aside to cool completely.
- Spoon the cooled eggplants equally into the two jars. Add a bit of the syrup to each. Cover the jars and store in the refrigerator. Serve the jam with coarsely chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.