Cachi has to be Italy’s most aesthetically beautiful Autumn fruit. Its soul-stirring leaves turn the most succulent shades of spotted pinks, reds & orange, which rather than blaze help to softly counter setting the clocks back and the extra hour of black that descends…
From the persimmon family and Japanese in origin, Cachi fruit trees (Kaki in English, with their sisters being the chemically-ripened Sharon Fruit) were introduced across Italy in the middle 1800s. One of their more off-kilter claims to fame is that Mussolini created a decree for them, requiring each farmhouse have a cachi tree planted besides it. Perhaps it wasn’t just their beauty that stirred him but their high energy levels that he perceived as a useful tool for his troops – unusually for a fruit they are quite high in calories!
By December when all around them is a criss-cross of bare branches, with a little colour added by the yellow lichens and creeping mistletoe, the cachi’s glossy orange skins and plump tactile roundness resemble a low burning sun which slowly ripens with each night’s frost. Like so many other Autumn-harvested berries these are tart, astringent fruits, with even the non-astringent variety needing a winter chill blast before they become anywhere near palatable.
Their taste reminds me of dates and a heavy chestnut honey, others have described it as somewhere close to a mango dipped in brown sugar that increases the riper the cachi gets. That heady pungent deep sugary aroma is not everyone’s cup of tea, hence it’s a delicacy that is both loved and loathed. Equally, their texture provokes a number of reactions, from slimy to literally squishily lovely when fully ripe. Once ripe, cachi do go off rather quickly so if you happen to have a surplus it’s time to make jam, recipe coming soon so check back…
Cachi Jam Recipe
This Abruzzo cachi jam recipe has been kindly sent to us by Maria Rita D’Orsogna’s mother Nicolleta Lanci. Maria you may know spear-headed the fight against oil drilling in Abruzzo. Nicoletta uses this cachi jam in ‘crostate’ (tarts) with mixed in pieces of chocolate, almonds or walnuts, or just biscotti savoiardi (Lady’s Fingers).
For each kilogram of cachi you’ll need to add 400 grams sugar and 2 tablespoons of honey. You could add more sugar but remember cachi are a very sweet fruit.
Do make sure that the cachi are really ripe, take out the cachi’s seeds but leave on the skin. Mix cachi, sugar & honey and blend in a food-processor.
Take a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-stick pan (it should be proportionate to the amount of fruit you are dealing with) and fill it with the fruit shake.
Bring the pan up to boil and then let it simmer gently, stirring it from time to time.
The cooking time depends on the quantity, but the jam is ready when you can fill a spoon with the cachi fruit blend and it becomes solid upon cooling, so keep checking regularly.
In the meantime prepare some sterilized small glass jars with aluminium lids (NOT plastic). They must be dried, closed and put in warm water until the time for preserving.
Fill the jars with the piping hot jam up to the top of the jar, leaving only a tiny space for the lid. Make sure that whilst you do this you keep the jam on a low heat.
Put the lids on the jars immediately and allow to cool under a folded teatowel/tablecloth until they become cold.
Store them in a cool place, after 1 month they will be ready to be eaten.