Have you ever tried pepper jam? Maybe with an appetizer at a restaurant or as a snack served with goat cheese? I hadn’t tried pepper jam until recently when I ordered fried goat cheese with pepper jelly at one of my go-to restaurants. I really had no idea I was eating peppers until I questioned where the spicy bite was coming from. Then… I was in love!
Pepper jam is a simple concept but can be used in so many ways! Basically you can choose any pepper you prefer (or a mixture) and make them into a spreadable and yummy accent to dishes. I chose to use jalapenos for my jam because I wanted a spicy kick but not as spicy has a habanero pepper. I was a little hesitant because I know jalapenos give off a good amount of heat, but in the end the sugar balanced out the heat very well so my taste buds weren’t killed.
I know… you are thinking “jam isn’t a pastry!” but I think any dish that requires almost a full bag of sugar is considered a sweet! So, here we go!
I started by slicing the jalapenos in half. Then, I remembered I was told to wear gloves… I ignored this suggestion and found my hands burning for the next 12 hours. Therefore, I advise you to WEAR GLOVES! Seriously, you will have an invisible burn on your hands if you don’t. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Also, don’t touch your face with the pepper juice on you… you will regret it!
Next, remove the seeds and gross white parts out of the pepper. I did this over a bowl so I could reserve the seeds and add them if I needed extra heat.
See? No seeds or pith.
Add half the apple cider vinegar to the food processor then, with the processor on, add the jalapenos.
Keep blending until all the large chunks of jalapenos are gone…
… and you have something like this. You can see there are still tiny flakes of jalapenos in there which will give a pretty consistency to the jam.
Add 6 cups of the sugar to the pot and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Taste the mixture and add sugar until it the sugar offsets the vinegar enough to give you a flavor you like (I used 8 cups of sugar because I didn’t want a vinegar flavor in my jam). Once the mixture taste sweet enough for your tastes heat the mixture until comes to a boil that cannot be stirred down. At this point, I poured a little onto a plate and tasted how spicy it was. I decided to add a few pinches of the seeds to the pot to add a kick and to make the inside of the jars look pretty with speckles of seeds.
Continue boiling and stirring frequently for approximately 10 minutes. The color will change from the pretty light green to a yucky amber color, but that means you are doing it right!
After the 10 minutes, add all of the fruit pectin to the pot and continue boiling for about 5 minutes.
Once the fruit pectin has boiled for approximately 5 minutes grab a metal spoon, put a tiny bit of the mixture on the spoon, and place it in the freezer until the mixture starts to set. If the jam on the spoon is the consistency you want then it is time to take it off the burner. If you want it thicker then boil it for a little longer and test it again.
Now, to tackle the ugly color! Use any food coloring you have on hand. Feel free to be creative with your color choice! I used “Kelly Green” from Wilton’s gel food coloring.
Place a good amount of the food coloring on a toothpick and stir it in the pot. Discard the toothpick (only use it one time so you don’t contaminate your food coloring) and stir the pot until the food coloring is combined. Add more until the liquid is the color you want.
At this point, take a deep breath! You have finished making the jam! Feel free to snag some crackers and goat cheese and have a taste of your homemade jam! Be sure to blow on it first because it was just boiling over your stove.
The canning part is a whole different story, therefore stayed tuned for part 2 of How To: Canning Jalapeno Jam.
REMEMBER: Wear gloves!
1.5 pounds fresh jalapeno peppers (any mixture of peppers will do)
4 cups apple cider vinegar, divided in half
6-12 cups sugar
4 boxes (1.75 oz) fruit pectin
Food coloring of your choice, usually the color of the pepper
Enough jars for approximately 80 oz of jam
Remove seeds and pith from peppers. Place half the apple cider vinegar and all the jalapenos in a food processor and puree. Combine puree and remaining apple cider vinegar in a pot. Add sugar to taste. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Add fruit pectin and continue boiling 5 minutes. Test jam and cook longer if the jam does not set. Remove from heat. Add food coloring. Pour mixture into jars. Process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Let the jars cool for at least 12 hours. Check the lids and store jars.