I heart chillies and pretty much anything spicy. So when I saw a tray of chilli peppers looking a bit lonely in my fridge, I knew I had to create something with them. You can always freeze chillies if you have too many but once I got the idea of making my own chilli jam I knew they’d never make it to the freezer!
Most chilli jams are made with bell peppers to bulk them up and sweeten but I knew I wanted to use apples so I could avoid adding store-bought pectin. Pectin is what makes a jam set rather than stay runny so it’s a necessary ingredient but some fruit have more naturally-occurring pectin than others. Apples have loads of the stuff (particularly in their cores and skins) so that’s why you see them in so many jam recipes.
There are lots of recipes out there for apple and chilli jelly but I couldn’t find almost any for jam. I know it sounds silly but something in me doesn’t like making jellies because it means you have to throw out all the ingredients you’ve used after you strain the liquid from them and this just feels wasteful! So I’ve tried out a jam and I’ve used way more chillies than any other recipe I found but it isn’t even too spicy, it’s just tasty and oh so perfect with cheese…
- 4 Granny Smith or other cooking apples – cored and chopped but not peeled (I used 3 apples and a pear because that’s what I had to hand but beware – pears don’t have much pectin so don’t substitute too many of them in)
- 10-15 small green and red chillies (according to the heat of your chillies and your personal taste) – deseeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 200ml cider vinegar
- 200g caster sugar
- juice and zest of 1 lemon (provides citric acid to help adjust the pH apparently!)
- water to cover
- Put all the ingredients in a large pot, with just enough water to cover them – a preserving pan is even better if you have one. You want a large shallow layer of jam rather than a deep one as this will cook more quickly and evenly.
- Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until you reach the setting point* (about 1-2 hours).
- Bottle into hot, sterilised** jars. You should hear the jar lids make a satisfying popping sound as they cool – this means they are properly sealed and should keep for at least 6 months to a year or more – if you don’t eat it all before that!
* To test if your jam is set, keep a couple of small plates in the fridge until cool. When the jam is looking near done, spoon a bit onto a cold plate and put back in the fridge for 30 seconds-1 minute. Take it out again and push the jam with your finger – if it ripples or a skin is visible on top then it is ready, if it’s still runny it needs more time. With a couple of plates on the go you can keep testing every few minutes which helps ensure you get it right as it can set too hard quite quickly if you’re not careful (although this can be corrected by boiling again with some added water until setting point is reached).
**I sterilise my jars by first washing in warm soapy water (a good soak should also make it easier to remove any labels, the back of a bread knife is a good tool for scraping off any remaining bits of glue). Then I boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes. I then place the jars in a 150C oven for at least 20 minutes and until they are dry. Make sure to fill and seal while they are still warm.
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