[Recipe posted at bottom of page in Word format.]
So, my kitchen has been an interesting place lately---I've been on a 'pepper jam making' kick! The fumes swirling around my kitchen have made me cry, cough, leave the room, and wonder what in the world I'm doing messing with these evil little veg pockets of Hell! But then I taste the end result and I have to smile and say it's well worth the trouble. And, it really is! Now listen, my palate is NOT geared towards super spicy flavors. I just don't enjoy them. It's more pain to me than pleasure---at some point things stop being flavorful and end up just being "hot." But that's MY palate--I'm a wimp. There are plenty of people who are able to handle the intense heat produced by all the crazy-hot chilies of the world and I'm happy to make jam just for them!
Now, I personally have friends who are able to handle levels of heat that would literally make me pass out, and it just doesn't seem to phase them. I do a lot of jam with just jalapeno but for the heat-lovers, I branch out and experiment with chilies from all over: Serrano, Habanero, Thai Green Chili, Ghost Pepper, Scorpion Pepper, Scotch Bonnet, and Carolina Reaper chilies just to name a few. There are TONS of hot peppers/chilies out there to play around with. But be careful if you try your hand at making spicy jam---wear gloves. The oils that cling to your fingers after cutting these peppers is intense and it will hurt you--especially if you get it in your eyes or inside your nose. It takes hours for it to dissipate, leaving you in misery so just don't chance it; wear your gloves!
Take a look at some of the varieties I've produced for my shop this year:
For me, pepper jam is best with cream cheese on a cracker. I also like it with crusty bread and a nice, melty Brie or Gouda. It's not something just for snacks, though---pepper jam makes a FABULOUS glaze for pork, chicken, and fish! The savory/sweet combination is simply delicious. Have you stepped outside the traditional box and used pepper jam for something besides an appetizer? I'd love to hear about it!
Here's a peek at the process:
Here's my 2 cents worth on jam making...
Do not be conventional. If you want to try a combination of flavors, DO IT! The worst that can happen is either the taste is just not good, or it doesn't set up well. Jam making for me is definitely about trial & error. When I began, I had LOTS of err's but I worked through them and now I'm a pretty good jammer.
The recipe I have posted below is my BASE recipe. I use it for ratios. I mix and match peppers and I play with different liquids. My recipes ALWAYS have apple cider vinegar in them. I like the punchy tang the vinegar provides. But you can scale back on the vinegar and add a juice.
In my Cranberry Jalapeno, I use a cup of minced jalapeno, a cup of minced fresh cranberries, 1.5 cups of apple cider vinegar, and 1.5 cups of cranberry juice--not juice cocktail. You want 100% juice so read the label!
In my Pineapple Jalapeno, I use 1 cup of minced jalapeno, a cup of crushed canned pineapple, and only apple cider vinegar as my liquid. I could have gone half and half with vinegar and pineapple juice--it would be delish, but I didn't have the juice so I just went with all vinegar.
Yes, my recipe calls for onion. I love the flavor and the texture it imparts to the jam. If you hate onion, don't use it. But--you're missing out!
I cannot for the life of me tell when a jam is going to set until I check it the next morning. Sometimes I feel I cook it at too high of a temp or for too long---those factors can kill the pectin and you end up with syrup. I've done it a 100 times and each time I'm mad as a hornet and FRUSTRATED!! But I just suck it up, add another pack of pectin and re-cook it. It generally always sets after this. Go figure.
Pepper jam is NOT just for the holidays. Make it and share it all year long with seasonal fruit--just think how good fresh peach jalapeno jam would be!! Shut up!!! Sooooo delish!!
My point is, just because there is a RECIPE, it doesn't mean you can't put your own spin on it. Switch things up and create something uniquely yours! Then you MUST tell me all about it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!!
Happy jamming, my friends!!
Recipe available for downloading or printing:
Don't miss out on my COWBOY CANDY post. It's all about candied jalapenos and there's a video, too!!
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