The origins of Jamaican Christmas pudding are a reflection of the interesting history of the Island. To learn more about what makes Christmas pudding from Jamaica so unique, read our guide for more facts & information…
The two primary influences on Jamaican culture are the African slaves brought to the island to work the sugar plantations and the English who colonized the island after defeating Spanish colonists in 1655. Jamaicans have taken traditions from both cultures and mixed them to form their own culture. Thus, while the Jamaican Christmas pudding has elements of the British Christmas pudding that inspired it, it is uniquely Jamaican.
The Difference in Jamaican Christmas Pudding
British Christmas pudding is a steamed cake filled with dried fruit and soaked in brandy. It is usually served with hard sauce at the end of Christmas dinner. While the Jamaicans still use dried fruit and prepare the pudding by steaming it, brandy was fairly rare in Jamaica so the native people adapted and used what was available and that was rum. Rum is made from sugarcane and has a slightly sweeter flavor than brandy, but it also has a much higher alcohol content. Jamaican Christmas pudding packs a serious punch and isn’t meant for younger family members unless the cook cuts back on the rum.
Ingredients for Christmas Pudding
Most recipes call for one pound each of raisins, currants and prunes plus dried cherries, citron and other mixed dried fruit. The fruit is washed, soaked in water, drained and then soaked in a mixture of wine and light rum. The finely ground rind of a lemon or lime is added to the batter which is made from dark brown sugar, flour, spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, butter, more rum and chopped nuts. There are a number of excellent recipes available on internet cooking sites, but the recipes are lengthy and complex. Jamaican Christmas pudding is also called black cake because of its dark color after cooking. The pudding may be placed in a mold or bowl for cooking which may be done in an oven or a pressure cooker.
Traditional Cooking of Jamaican Christmas Pudding
Pudding is the British word for a cake which is steamed rather than baked. Both the English and the Scots make these cakes, although the Scots call them dumplings. The batter is placed in a buttered mold or bowl and placed in a pan of water about 1”to 2” deep. It is often covered with a damp buttered cloth if it is to be cooked in an oven. The cooking time for a Christmas pudding is usually between three and four hours. The water level must be checked and replenished regularly unless a pressure cooker is used.
The traditional Jamaican Christmas pudding is a dark, moist, spicy fruit cake but it takes a bit of patience and dedication to prepare. Prepared Jamaican Christmas puddings are available for sale and while they may not be as good as homemade, they are still delicious and a lot less effort than making one’s own.