Roasted spicy-sweet red pepper jam

redpepperjam.jpg

Being a sucker for anything On Sale, a couple of weeks ago I was lured by a big AKTION sign at the supermarket into buying a 3 kilo (about 6.6 lb) bag of sweet red peppers. As much as I love peppers, it was going to be impossible to consume all of it in regular ways. Making a jam or jelly out of them was an obvious answer.

I wanted a jam that could be used as condiment or sauce as well as in regular jam-like ways, e.g. spread on bread. I set about trying to find a good, easy to make and not too sugary red pepper jelly or jam recipe on the internets, but nothing I read really stood out on its own to me. So I set about taking this from that and that from the other recipe, and after ruining about a kilo of the peppers in the first attempt, came up with something that is not bad at all.

Recipe: Roasted spicy-sweet red pepper jam

This makes about 7 cups of jam.

  • 2 kg (about 4 1/2 lbs) sweet red bell peppers; Hungarian peppers will give you the richest red color, and is what I used to produce the blood-red jam in the photo, but regular bell peppers will do too
  • 1 kg (about 2.2 lb) sour apples such as Granny Smith, Bramley, Boskop
  • 4 to 6 hot Thai chili peppers, or 1 to 2 habenero (Scotch Bonnet) peppers; or 2 Tbs. dried red chili pepper flakes
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 220ml (1 cup) red wine vinegar
  • 1 packet powdered pectin (optional, see Notes)

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 430°F.

Cup the peppers in half, take off the stem end and take out the seeds. Line then skin side up a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until the skins are black and blistered - the time differs depending on how thick your peppers are, but start looking after 5 minutes. Don't let them get charred and tough all the way through!

Take the peppers out and put them in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap. This steams them a bit in residual heat, making them easier to peel.

In the meantime, peel, core and chop up the apples.

Peel the peppers - most of the charred skin should come off easily. If any bits of unburnt skin remain, it's no big deal.

Chop up the hot chili peppers. The amount really depends on how hot you want your jam to be. The hottest would be with the two habaneros, but for general use 5-6 Thai chili peppers (the small red kind) should be quite enough without making the jam a tearful experience. You may want to start by adding less than you think you need - you can always add more heat, but taking it out is a bit of a problem.

Put all of the ingredients into a large, heavy, non-reactive pan, with just enough water to cover the peppers and apples. Heat up until it's boiling, then lower the heat way down so it's just simmering. Simmer gently for about an hour, stirring up from the bottom occasionally. The moisture will boil way down. (If the bottom gets burned, just tip the jam gently into another pan without stirring up the burned parts.)

The peppers and apple bits should be pretty broken up, but to accelerate the process you can whiz the whole thing with a hand-held stick blender or in a standalone blender or food processor. I used my Bamix blender for this.

Taste, and add more heat or sugar if you think it needs it and simmer gently for a few more minutes.

This jam may not keep that well in preserving jars at room temperature, since there isn't that much sugar in it. I did not can mine; I just divided it into 1-cup portions and froze it. However, the 3 cups worth or so that I had in the refrigerator are already gone.

Notes

Because the apples are full of pectin, you probably won't need the extra pectin. You may want to add it if you want a very thick jam without adding extra sugar.

Uses

So far we've used this jam:

  • With cream cheese on savory scones (aka biscuits in the American sense)
  • As a dipping sauce for spring rolls
  • As a sauce for fajitas
  • Someone has also been eating it neat with a spoon

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