Ok, here are my 6 quick steps to making a delicious, chilli jam that anyone can make. Yes. Anyone. Why 6 steps? Easy, 6 is less than 10. One more than 5. And it may have been one of my winning numbers in Tuesday’s Powerball game had I not somehow lost my ticket soon after buying it on, yip, you guessed it, lucky Friday 13th! Not so lucky after all!
Anyhoo, we’re making chilli jam in 6 steps, so let’s go…
1. First, get all your utensils and cooking gear together. You will need.. 1 x large saucepan, 1x wooden spoon, 1 x spatula for scrapping all the jam out the pot, a sharp knife, blender or chopper, friend or partner to finely chop chillies, 2 x plastic gloves for handling chillies, 1 x saucer which you place straight in the fridge to keep cool (You will understand why later) and that’s all. Easy Peasy. Next …
2. Time to assemble the ingredients … chillies between 20 and 30 in total are needed and you can use any chillis here – jalapenos, habaneros, red hot chilli peppers, bird’s eyes or even a mix. I used pepperdews as I currently have a glut in my garden. Plus, 1 x 500ml bottle apple cider vinegar, 1 x 1kg bag of brown sugar and 1 lemon. That’s it. Just 4 ingredients. Normally, in jam-making to set the jam to a firm, jam-like consistency, one uses pectin. I didn’t have any, so I asked Suri to have a look and see if it was possible make jam without using pectin. After a few seconds Siri came up with some interesting articles. God, how I Love Siri And Google! To cut a long story short, lemon juice was suggested as a suitable substitute for pectin. And I happened to have a lemon. Cool.
3. Let’s start. First, put on the plastic gloves. On both hands. All chillies burn. And if like me, you suddenly develop an itchy nose or eye while working with chillies and scratch the itch without thinking, no gloves means your eye or nose, or heaven forbid, both will Burn and I mean BURN for what will feel like hours. Next, get to work on the chillies, slice the end off, then slice down the centre of the chilli so it is in half length-ways, remove the seeds, then place the 2 halves into a blender or chopper to finely chop. Don’t worry if a few seeds somehow get in, it is a chilli sauce after all. You can use for this recipe, between 20-30 chillies. You don’t have to weigh out an exact amount. Use what you have. I had loads, so I used 33 to be exact.
4. Once the chillies are chopped, place into the saucepan. Place the pan on the stove and crank the heat up to high. Next, add 2 x cups apple cider vinegar to chillies, followed by 3 and a half cups brown sugar. You can use white sugar too. The recipe called for 4 x cups of white sugar. I prefer to use brown when cooking, nicer flavour and I also cut back a little as I didn’t want the jam too sweet. I always feel so Heston Blumenthalish when I substitute ingredients in recipes! Finally, add 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. (Not bottled!) Mix altogether and bring to the boil. An old wives tale is that if you lay a wooden spoon over to top of your pot, it won’t boil over. I tried this and I can happily report, my pot didn’t boil over! Once the chilli mixture is boiling. Turn the heat down, slightly. But keep the mixture boiling. For 20 minutes the recipe said and then the mixture would start to thicken. 20 minutes is a fair while. I didn’t just want to stand and stare at the pot and a watched pot never boils! So, I figured I had enough floor space in the kitchen, I rolled out my yoga mat and for 20 mins practised some yoga moves, checking and stirring the pot every 5 minutes to prevent burning. After 20 minutes my mixture was still thin and runny, maybe using less sugar and lemon juice affected the cooking time? Back to the boil and back to the yoga mat for me.
5. Finally, another 20 minutes later, my mixture had thicken and was looking jam-like. (Total boiling time of 40 mins) Thank God, I was feeling pretty knackered and was glad to get off the floor! Time to test … take the cold saucer from the fridge and drop a small drop of the jam onto the chilled saucer, it should drop and hold it’s round shape, not run or slide around the saucer. If it does, it’s ready. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
6. Once cooled, the jam will thicken more on standing. You can decant into sterilized glass bottles and store in the fridge. To sterilize glass bottles wash on the highest temperature setting in your dishwasher and allow to dry before using. Can also be hand-washed in hot water and dried off in a hot oven.
This jam is so versatile – with goat’s cheese or even cheddar cheese on biscuits, on hot pork chops off a braai, in a stirfry, add ‘zing’ to a cheese sauce, pasta sauce, a dollop on a slice of pizza, with steak. Oh, the list is endless!
I am definitely going to make more and maybe next time use a mix of chillies. Watch this blog ….💋