Friday, July 13

Spicy Red Pepper Jam

This time of year in California, the farmers markets are overflowing with every imaginable kind of produce. It's best to keep me away because my acquisitive nature takes over and I want to buy everything - everything. This also happens in art museums, but while I cannot afford to buy art, I can buy pretty much as much produce as I want. So yesterday afternoon I faced a pleasant quandary: what to do with three plus pounds of assorted red peppers?

I've been fascinated by the idea of canning for a while now and the perfect inspiration came with a post about a fabulous looking Chipotle Chile Jam here: Becks & Posh: Served on a Pretty Nasty Plate.... This also meant I got to buy various canning supplies at Sur La Table and a giant 14" stainless steel stock pot from the restaurant supply store.

The recipe linked to in the above post wasn't quite what I had in mind, so I found a very basic version online and then modified it to suit my fancy, adding chipotle peppers, red pepper flakes, red bell peppers, and a little bit of brown sugar. I bet it would be excellent with garlic as well.

I've always been a bit skittish about canning, mostly because I'd never done it on my own (my mom used to can apricots, and I still remember the luscious, golden, tangy-sweet fruit we would open in winter; the satisfying pop as we snapped the lid away from the jar). But this was easy. On of my jars didn't form a seal (I'm not sure if the top wasn't clean, or I didn't tighten the lid enough, or I filled the jar too full, or what) but I just put that one the the refrigerator to eat right away! The rest look lovely.

The recipe yields about 5 cups jam, enough to fill as many 1 cup jars, but I would probably make a double batch next time. It goes great with cheeses and smoked tofu, in salad dressings, and, I imagine, with meats. Because I didn't use pectin, the jam won't be as thick as some others. Mine is more like a thick relish.

-- Spicy Red Pepper Jam
* 3 lbs various fresh red peppers (mix bell peppers and hot peppers to taste)
* 1/2 cup cider vinegar

* 2 small lemons, quartered
* 2-3 canned chipotle peppers

* 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
* 3 cups sugar (I swapped out 1/2 cup of the white sugar
for brown)

1. Dice the peppers (I used a food processor) and place them over medium heat with the lemons, chipotle peppers, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the peppers are soft, about 30 minutes.

2. Remove the lemon pieces and stir in the sugar. Boil another 10 minutes or more. Jam is ready when a scoop poured onto a cold plate will congeal after a few m
inutes in the freezer (this is called a sheeting test).

3. Pour into sterile canning jars and process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

The National Center for Home Food Preparation has an excellent PDF of step by step canning instructions.

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