On this cold December day, I cannot help but think about the warm sun, sand, and the Caribbean Sea. The smell of salt in the air and the breeze off the ocean. You see back in May, I had the opportunity to travel to Belize on a study abroad with some outstanding students. We traveled throughout the country and hit one of the islands along our trip. While on the mainland, we saw beautiful orange, grapefruit, sugar cane, and pineapple farms. We toured and climbed an amazing ancient Mayan archaeological site, Xunantunich (pronounced: shoe naan too niche). I am saving this one for another blog post – so stay tuned.
After our mainland exploration, we took a ferry boat ride to the island, Caye Caulker. As soon as we arrived, we knew father time ran slower and the island vibes sang through the night. We walked from the ferry terminal to our hotel in sand and sidewalk. We were only there for three short days but this island is truly singing my praises and I will return to Caye Caulker. Not only do you have great access to the beach, bars, food, but also to some amazing snorkeling. We were able to take a charter out with Carlos Tours for a full day and snorkel around the island. His crew was amazing and Carlos ensured we got to see the best of the best in Belize. They also prepared a wonderful lunch for our hungry students that was sensational. We got to snorkel with varieties of colorful fish, stingrays, and even sharks! Let’s just say that I allowed the students to get out first and snorkel then slowly head into the water. I will have to say these sharks were being feed quite well by our captain however, I did not want them to confuse me for food.
On the island the food was fresh and delish. Each morning at our hotel, they served us breakfast in an open air restaurant. We had exceptional views and breezes from the ocean along with the local cemetery. It was literally adjacent to our dividing wall! We were also there during a full moon which was extra special! Or creepy – not sure but we survived. At breakfast, you typically get scrambled eggs, bacon and toast along with fresh fruit. The pineapple jam was absolutely delicious. It was as if I could taste the sweet ripened fruit freshly cut from the farm and a hint of cinnamon. After devouring the wonderfully robust coffee, I asked our server what brand was the jam and where I could buy it. He stated it was not from the store but a speciality jam created by one of the local cooks in the hotel. I immediately told him I would kill for the recipe and I love canning jams. I left it at that and we went about our day. When we arrived back to the hotel, I had a hand written note with the recipe for this glorious masterpiece. So on this bitter cold morning, I sip my robust coffee and eat my pineapple jam and toast and reminisce of warm sea breezes and island adventures.
Notes – you can skip the canning piece if you just want to gobble it up right away. Also, this is for a water bath canning, you could use a pressure cooker as well.
3 Fresh Pineapples, diced
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 tbsp of cinnamon
Ladies and gentlemen its that easy. Take diced pineapple, sugar and cinnamon and cook on medium heat for 12-15 minutes. Then take an emulsifier or a potato masher and puree the pineapple to the consistency of your liking. We like a bit of chunkiness but not a lot in our house.
For water bath canning. Make sure your water covers 1″ above the rim of your jars. For three pineapples, I was able to make a dozen small 4 oz jelly jars. Do not forget to sterilize your jars prior to canning. With the jam warm, fill each jar leaving 1/4″ gap at the top. Wipe the rim clean and screw on lid and band. Bring your water bath canner to a boil, place filled jars with tongs into the water. Boil for approximately 10 minutes. Using the tongs, carefully remove the jars and place on a clean kitchen towel for 24 hours. You should start to hear the lids pop a few minutes after you have removed them from the canner. And there you have a Tropical Paradise Hotel Especial.
This jam is not only wonderful on toast and biscuits, it is also amazing on a banana split! My kids beg for me to add this and my strawberry freezer jam to our homemade banana splits. I tell you this island is absolutely Belizable and my time in this small Central American country was fabulous. If you get a chance to head to Belize, you better do it! Trust me you won’t regret it!
Cheers and Happy Holidays!