Monday, August 10, 2009

Pindo Palm Jelly

On the short walk from the pool to the house we rent in the "low country" in South Carolina, Winter picked a berry from the tons of these little palm trees in the community and said, "Mom, smell this." Well, I've played that game before and it's not always fun. I was cautious at first, but then quickly began oohing and aahhing over the fragrance that in an instant transports you to the warm sunny place of your dreams. You cannot prevent the immediate inclination to hold in your hand a drink blended with ice and topped with a frilly paper umbrella. The berry smelled distinctly tropical, and though the olfactory memories are quickly fading, I vaguely remember hints of mango, papaya, pineapple, whatever, just TROPICAL. As we walked home practically snorting the berry, two women rode by on bicycles and told us they heard it was possible to make jelly out of the berries. Well, color me paranoid, but I'm not about to pick berries from random palm trees (I'm from the suburbs of Maryland) and make jelly without doing my research.

Here's what the research shows: the palm is a Pindo Palm tree, aka Jelly Palm Tree if you're from Florida, or aka Pindo Date if you're from the Deep South. I did find a recipe for Palm Jelly, appropriately from The Post and Courier, a publication out of Charleston, SC. The original article "Palm Jelly, One of Mother Nature's Tasty Gifts" from The Post and Courier contains other interesting recipes, and for my anonymous bacon fat loving friend, even lists a recipe that calls for a cup of bacon fat. Oinky tasty!

As we were on the island, landscapers were removing the fruit bunches. Apparently, in the landscape Pindo Palm fruit can be a "nuisance" since they fall, become a mess, and are very attractive to wild animals. According to the recipe below, it may have been prime time for us to harvest the berries for jelly, as the fruit were beginning to fall from the palm. Here is more information and the recipe for Palm Jelly as copied from Teresa Taylor's original article. Next year I will try this for sure...


Chris (Chris Nietart is a Post and Courier reader who contributed the recipe) says the jelly is great on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with cream cheese on an English muffin, and also makes a nice glaze for poultry and sweet potatoes.

Palm Fruit Jelly

5 cups juice (see cook's note)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 box Sure-Jell fruit pectin
5 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter, to prevent foaming

Cook's note: Gather fruit when the first fruit begins to fall from the tree, Chris says. People are happy for you to take it, especially if you give them a jar of jelly in return. I collect it in a plastic clothes basket and let the fruit ripen outdoors until it begins to fall off the stalk, usually in a day or two. I covered it with screening this year to keep flies away!

Rinse the fruit thoroughly; it is not necessary to remove the 'caps' on the fruit as they will cook off. Fill a large pot with the fruit leaving several inches at the top. Cover the fruit with water, bring it to a boil, and then cook at medium for 1 hour uncovered. Let the fruit cool down for an hour. To collect the juice: Scoop portions of fruit and juice into a jelly bag over another container and squeeze the bag to get the juice, some of it will appear thick, and then discard the pits. (This is the messy part). You may notice that your juice may vary in thickness, and you can combine all of it and stir to get a more homogenous batch before you begin the jelly making. As I measure for each batch, I sieve it through a cloth baby diaper (purchased new for this purpose) to remove any small bits of pulp.

To make jelly: In large pot (pasta size) combine palm juice and lemon juice, and stir in box of pectin, using a whisk. Heat to a boil and stir in sugar and butter. Bring mixture back to a boil and turn heat down to medium high and continue to cook for 13-15 minutes. Monitor closely so that it does not boil over. Palm jelly requires longer cooking time than other jelly.

Pour jelly into half-pint sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and process for 5 minutes.

Thanks also to Virginia Edmonds of Ladson, who sent a copy of a Post and Courier article from 1979. The recipe was similar; however, it did note that if the fruit mixture fails to jell, it's delicious over pancakes, waffles or ice cream.


  1. How neat! LOVE finding "wild" produce. I'm jealous of your palms, here in Western Colorado about all we have are cacti. :o)

    1. Many cactus fruits can be used to make jelly also, maybe find someone in the south to trade jars of jelly with.

  2. Hi Julie,

    Actually, we were just visiting. As nice as it is to see palm trees everywhere in the south (we always know we're on vacation as soon as we see the first palm tree!), in my heart of hearts, I think I like our Northern foliage best. The only thing I'd really enjoy having in our zone that is iffy through the winter would be the purple fountain grass. I did see lots of wild cacti though and that was VERY cool!

  3. I never had the jelly but to me the berries smell like a cross between oranges and coconuts.

    BTW, I think it was your devilishly handsome and charming husband who showed Winter the berries.

  4. Really? I do have a devilishly handsome husband, but I'm not sure I would call him charming. You must have reached the wrong blog.

  5. Well from what I can see, he's definitely lucky to have such a beautiful wife and family!


My awesome gardening friends...thanks for leaving a comment! I don't typically repond here, but I love knowing who you are so I can visit your blog as well.

btw - if you're trying to show me nude Miley Cyrus photos, sell me nikes or viagra or antibiotics, or encourage my lovely garden readers to visit your site on solar panel construction, or seo-whatevers, sorry, but I'm not publishing your comment. If you want to moderate my blog - well, I can't keep you too busy, and the pay would be horrible. And lastly, no. I'm not interested in Club Penguin cheat codes. Thanks anyway.

Related Posts with Thumbnails