The first batch of this jelly-like jam was sweet and hot, delicious. The second batch was spiced, half with star anise and half with cardamom, tastes and aromas of a holiday season. The third batch – winner! – was laced with a dab of chipotles in adobo sauce. Sweet and hot, and smoky.
And that was BEFORE I went to San Francisco for a week, visiting the legendary Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market on a Saturday. Wow. I stopped in to the booth of a farm that specializes in chilis, and makes multiple types of pepper jams. Next time (maybe this coming weekend), I will try cooking a wider variety of peppers, reducing them to a thick sauce with vinegar and sugar (less than used for this jam), adding powdered pectin (OK, I succumbed) at the very end. Or maybe not if the mixture will become a sauce.
Before California, excited to see that the Tigress’s October Can Jam would focus on capsicums – peppers of all types – I gathered up all of the red ones from our CSA farm, my own little in-town garden, and a couple of varieties of hot ones from a nearby farm stand. It was a guess as to how hot the jelly should be since pepper seems to calm down after being canned. (I found that out the hard way after I wimped out on some peach salsa earlier this summer.) While I normally look for ways to use homemade pectin when the ingredients don’t have enough of their own, I followed Pam Corbin’s advice (in the American version of her River Cottage Handbook) and added powdered pectin.
This is going to be great during the holidays. I can see it now… spooned over baked brie, spread on homemade crackers with a little cream cheese or ricotta. Or… garnishing a root vegetable soup. One of our guests at a dockside dive in California had a sustainably fished trout for dinner, which was garnished with an almost identical pepper jam from South Carolina… nice counterpoint. This one’s a keeper.
Sweet ‘n’ Hot Red Pepper Jam adapted from Pam Corbin, River Cottage Preserves
1 lb red bell peppers (about 3 peppers)
¼ lb red jalapeno peppers and other red hot chilis (about 3-4 peppers)
1 ½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
¾ c cider vinegar
2 ½ c granulated white sugar
1 ½ tsp pectin powder
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp salt
Prepare the peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs, taking care with the hot peppers not to touch the flesh too much, and certainly don’t touch your eyes after you’ve been handling peppers since the oils will burn you. Wear rubber gloves when handling numerous hot peppers or use a sharp knife and sharp-tined fork, my preferred method. Cut them into chunks and place them in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop finely but don’t liquify them.
Finely mince the ginger (you can add this to the peppers but cut it finely first since its harder texture will cause it not to chop to the same consistency as the peppers).
Add the chopped peppers and ginger to the vinegar in a large saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Add the sugar, pectin, lime juice and salt and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes, then turn off the stove and let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes. (Alternatively, simmer the pepper mixture without the pectin until thickened and add the pectin at the end, cooking hard to develop the gel.)
Prepare jars and lids for canning (I used 4 oz jars but 8 oz/half-pint would be fine). When ready, reheat the jelly/jam to a boil and spoon into the jars. If the peppers are not well distributed in the liquid, let the mixture sit for a few minutes and stir. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Remove the lid, turn off the stove and let the jars sit for 5 minutes before removing to rest undisturbed until cool.
Makes up to eight 4 oz jars.