My September 2, 2012 post about the berries I bought in Carbon Public Market named Bugnay received many comments in Cook My Garden's facebook page. Indeed a friend of mine have tasted a wine made out of it, and a friend in Iloilo mentioned this is used in treating chickenpox, while one mentioned my post was good timing because the local TV magazine show Rated K is doing a feature story about “bugnay” on that same day. I failed to watched Rated K's “it’s a MIRACLE” episode and Bignay (or Bugnay in our local Cebuano dialect) was featured as one of the "miracle food".
I did not paid much attention to the berries and left it at the table that night. When I woke up the next day, the berries were infested with tiny red ants. My thinking was, the berries must be sweet the reason why ants have noticed it. Instead of throwing it away, I washed and boiled it. After 30 or so minutes of boiling, I extracted a brilliant red fuschia juice; the acid level of sourness is comparable to that of our Calamansi (Philippine Lime). The color of the juice for me was so stunning, and by that alone a beverage made out of it is pretty sure enticing and refreshing. I set aside half cup of the concentrated juice because I was planning to make a drink out of it, while I simmered the remaining liquid to make a jam.
I add a portion of sugar and let it simmer under low heat, stirring constantly making sure it won’t stick at the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced. The cooking is a little bit tricky because you will not see the liquid thickens. My research was indeed correct that Bugnay's pectin content is small. Pectin is a natural substance found mostly in apples, berries and other fruits, that thickens when heated together with sugar. I stopped simmering until I got a concentrated reduction, yet the liquid is still runny. When it ultimately cooled down, I placed it inside refrigerator. After few hours, the liquid began to thicken, almost the same consistency with that of strawberry jams sold in supermakets. I believe this is not about pectin, but it is because of the sugar.
And so my supposedly breakfast the next day of just plain boiled bananas and coffee was transformed into something extra ordinary and special. I smothered the bananas to the richly colored jam and I realized I made not just a spread but a concoction which can be later used to add that needed acid and sweetness in salad dressings, or can be used as marinades, or sauce to add life and flavor to plain meats and vegetables, as filling for my muffins, and even cakes will get a new twist with the use of this jam. One thing that got me so excited about the outcome of this kitchen research was the liquid's brilliant deep color combination of fuchsia, red and purple, something I can use to enliven an ordinary dish. Color alone is one of the good qualities of this fruit.
I do not know the health benefits of this berries, but mentioned alone by no less than the nation's trusted news anchor in a multi-awarded show is already enough proof that indeed this berries are considered as one of the "miracle" fruits.
Imagine my P10.00 peso worth half kilo of berries was turned to a small jar of sweet and piquant jam. I know one day all our attention will be to this currant berries. I hope soon we can discover more ways how to prepare something extraordinary out of this berry.