I’ve been making all sorts of pepper jelly for over a year now. A while back I “invented” a form that had milder heat but still plenty of pepper flavor with the fruit; I called that one ZingJam. Recently I tried to make a different batch, and the heat came out low; we could detect it, but it wasn’t a major presence. I called that one TingleJam.
Today I made a new batch, with strawberries and blackberries, and I used Red Carib chiles for the heat. These chiles are a favorite in Jamaican cuisine, in dishes as diverse as Jerk Chicken, Callaloo and Escovitch Fish.
I stubbed my toe on the heat too. It was an easy mistake to make, actually. My neighborhood grocer had some lovely, fresh Reds mixed in with the habaneros. I sorted out the red ones and hurried home with my prizes. I deseeded 8 of them, thinking that would tone the temper down to around habanero levels. I often use 6-8 habs in a ZingJam, so I thought this batch might be a bit strong, but not overly so.
No such luck. This stuff was HOT! So I now have a new arrow in my quiver: StingJam!
This batch I used a little over two pounds of strawberries; that was the weight after trimming and cutting into small pieces for macerating. I combined that with 12 ounces of blackberries. I then mashed the fruit lightly with a potato masher, and poured a cup of sugar over the fruit. I added a bit of Kirschwasser and let the whole mix stand in the fridge for a few hours, covered.
While the fruit was getting happy I set up for jelly making and canning. I used another 1.5 cups of sugar, and enough Stevia concentrate to replace about 3 cups of sugar. I put the fruit in the pot, as well as some ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom. Two cups of apple cider vinegar (the real stuff, not the artifically flavored junque) supplied the acid, and I used nearly 3 tablespoons of Ball pectin (the no-sugar variety; but you already knew that) . I used a nice red bell pepper too, and another half of a red bell that was left over from salad-making the night before; suitably milled down in the food chopper.
The batch made 7 deeply-red half-pints at the end, with nearly a half-pint runover. I managed not to eat all the extra before PJ got home for her required taste-test. She agreed, this stuff is very zesty, about a four out of five.
This jam has plenty of fruit flavors (strawberries, blackberries, cherry from the liqueur), nice pepper taste and body, and spices to make it all a symphony of aroma, savor and pungency in your mouth.
Now to try this recipe on the beautiful red pears I found at Sprouts last week…
Enjoy the (Fruit Sting) Heat!
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