This week I had one of life’s epiphanies. It was about jam. Chilli jam, to be specific.
The epiphany..? Its easy to make. I’ve been spending money for years on gorgeous, delicious, organic sweet chilli jams from delis all over the country and yet it had never occurred to me to try to make my own. I assumed it involved a lot of elbow grease, took hours and hours and was fairly complex. All stories I had made up in my own head with no grounding in anything whatsoever.
Historically, I don’t have a great relationship with jams. Since my sister and I worked on a fruit picking farm as teenagers hoping to make our millions, I have barely touched the stuff to be honest. It was one of those ‘now that I know what’s in it I don’t want to eat it any more’ moments. I won’t go into detail for any jam lovers out there. I’d hate to spoil your breakfast 😉
Suffice to say, I really have no interest in jam, apart from the odd occasional green or red chilli jam which for some reason my brain excuses (isn’t the brain amazing). I think its because I was picking sweet fruit for jam and for some reason my brain has decided that chilli probably doesn’t share the same fate as fruits in the jam picking process, who knows. Anyway, the point is…I LIKE CHILLI JAM.
My husband and I have this amazingly stoic chilli plant on our balcony which every year threatens to cark it and somehow, every year, makes it through. Its into its 5th year now and I think this year was the most bumper of any years in terms of yield. We have chilli galore and I commented to him, ‘what on earth are we going to do with all of this chilli?’ ….and there was the epiphany. Somewhere in my brain a little light went on and I thought…ok…dammit…I’ll try to make my own.
So on Weds, as a complete jam making virgin, I entered into the unchartered world of making your own jams with no idea whatsoever what I was doing or whether it would taste good / set or whether I was about to waste a beautiful yield of fresh, organic, home grown chilli on a whim.
How did I begin? I simply googled sweet chilli jam and followed the first recipe I found which was lucky as I had all the ingredients in the cupboard. It’s this one:
The ingredients were pretty simple:
- 8 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 10 red chilli roughly chopped
- finger-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 8 garlic clove, peeled
- 400g can cherry tomatoes
- 750g golden caster sugar
- 250ml red wine vinegar
I added a few of my own along the way (up to you if you want to follow suite):
- 2 tablespoons Apple sauce
- 2 tablespoons agar agar powder (as I wasn’t convinced it would set having never tried it before)
- 5 tomatoes with skins at blending stage
- Another 100g caster sugar as when tasting close to the end it was a tad too spicy still for me
The method was also bonkers simple. Literally there are no cooking skills involved in this recipe except chopping, blending and stirring. If you can do that…you can make your own jam.
- Tip the peppers, chillies (with seeds), ginger and garlic into a food processor, then whizz until very finely chopped. Scrape into a heavy-bottomed pan with the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, then bring everything to the boil. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 50 mins, stirring occasionally.
- Once the jam is becoming sticky, continue cooking for 10-15 mins more, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t catch and burn. It should now look like thick, bubbling lava. Cool slightly, transfer to sterilised jars, then leave to cool completely. Keeps for 3 months in a cool, dark cupboard – refrigerate once opened.
The result was sensational.
It set perfectly and cooled overnight to reveal this magical jam in the morning which tasted amazing. So good in fact I immediately had it for breakfast on toast with avocado (and a massive smile on my face). One recipe made so much that I divided it into 7 jars and shipped it off to my mates. When I think that one jar to buy is about $10 and I made 7 jars for about the same amount…that’s pretty cool.
If I am feeling brave enough I think i’ll try a homemade onion jam next. I mean, how hard can it be right?
Happy jam making all (but maybe don’t get a job fruit picking). Smiles.