At the end of the summer, we always have a glut of this and that, as if the plants are giving us a last hurrah before heading into the winter. It’s hard to be upset about having too much delicious locally-grown produce, especially when we can share it out via all our vegboxes.
This week we’re making the most of the crop of Locavore-grown chillies. A great way to use up lots of produce is to preserve it, and with chillies there are two routes: you can pickle them or you can make jam.
Chilli jam is sweet and spicy, goes perfectly with cheese and crackers or cold meat, and makes an amazing present. I’ll be using mine as the centrepiece of homemade hampers for Christmas presents this year.
You can add a bag of chillies to your veg box delivery next week, or to make it extra-easy, we’re also offering kits with chillies, sugar and vinegar as well as a handy-dandy recipe card- it’s that little bit cheaper than buying them all separately.
The only things the kit doesn’t include are jars (but you have a cupboard full of empty marmalade jars right?) and pectin. Pectin is what makes jam set, and you can either buy it or, if you fancy a bit of a project, gather up apple cores and peels (maybe you’re making a pie?) and make some yourself.
Make sure to sterilise the jars before you start- I usually use the oven method for mine, as they will be hot when the jam is ready. Instructions for this, and some other handy jam-making tips, are here.
- 125g chillies
- 225ml apple cider vinegar
- 500g raw cane sugar
- 10g powdered pectin or about 20ml homemade apple pectin
Find a small plate or saucer and pop it in the freezer- you’ll use this to check whether the jam is set.
Remove the stalks from the chillies. Use a food processor to blend chillies to a paste, or, if you don’t have one, chop finely and pound in a pestle and mortar.
Add the chillies, sugar, vinegar, and pectin to a large saucepan with a heavy base and place over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rolling boil. It needs to boil for about 15 minutes. Stir every now and then so the bottom doesn’t catch.
Once the jam has been boiling for 15 minutes, it will be a lot thicker. Grab your plate from the freezer, and spoon a little jam onto it. Pop back into the freezer and leave for 5 minutes or until entirely cooled. When it’s cool, use your finger to push the jam- if it’s ready, it will wrinkle. If it doesn’t, put the plate back in the freezer, boil the jam for another 5 minutes, then check again.
Once the jam has set and is wrinkling pleasingly, turn off the heat and leave the jam to sit for 5 minutes.
Spoon the jam into each hot, sterilised jar, and seal them right away.
The jam will keep unopened for about 6 months. Once opened, refrigerate and eat within a month.