My burning love for hot peppers, all pun intended, didn’t fully develop until I hit Californian soil and damn near scorched the skin off my upper lip with a habanero chile salsa, because “how hot can it be?!” , she said with an air of disbelief.
Right. Carry on…
Unlike many Southwest natives, I didn’t grow up with chiles. As a matter of national embarrassment, I don’t even recall ever having seen hot peppers in my Flemish grocery store? Then again, cooking with hot peppers was such an oddity in Belgium in the early 1990′s, that I may have unduly ignored peppers altogether. It’s a dark void in my memory, like that time where I lip-synced Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry like the wolf’ in my bathroom and got caught. Don’t ask. It’s too painful.
After all these years, I’m slowly but surely learning to navigate my way around the many varieties of spicy hot peppers. Occasionally, however, my inner-Sacagawea brazenly surfaces during farmer’s market strolls and I inadvertently end up destroying a Flemish taste bud or two, encouraged by this kind of peppery food porn:
The idea of a hot pepper jam didn’t even occur to me until my colleague Alex channeled her inner-foodie and excitedly told me about ‘the best’ jam she’s ever eaten! She confessed she could smear it on just about everything… well, maybe not everything. Either way, we made a pact that I would try my hand at recreating her fantastic pepper jelly, if she became a follower on my blog. I’m totally cheap that way.
I know how to make jam as Belgians are big on canning and preserving sunshine, what with our 9 months of rain and all, so I accepted the challenge. This jelly turned out beautifully and so flavorful! And yes, I too will boldly smear this on anything that will hold its deliciousness…
NAUGHTY & NICE HOT PEPPER JELLY
(Adapted from a recipe by ‘River Cottage Preserves’)
- 1.5 lbs of sweet peppers (red, yellow or orange), approx. 3-4 large
- 3 small scotch bonnet peppers or habanero peppers (*)
- 3 red jalapeno peppers (*)
- 1 medium size red onion
- 1 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 2.5 cups of white sugar
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- a small pinch of saffron
- 1.5 oz of fresh grated ginger
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1.5 oz powdered pectin
(*) you can use any combination of peppers you like. For a few pointers, check out my friend Debi’s blog over at Life Currents)
Chop sweet peppers in half, removing bitter white ribs and seeds. Slice into thin ribbons, then into small dice. Chop onion into very small dice as well. Peel and grate (or finely chop) the ginger.
Scratch whatever itch you may have on your face now, because you’re done touching your face for the next few minutes!
Chop hot peppers in half, remove white-ish ribs and seeds, and chop into very fine dice. Try not to breathe through your nose or touch any sensitive areas, as the capsicum in these babies will
avenge you get to you.
In a heavy, non-reactive pan, place sweet & hot peppers, grated ginger and onions and pour apple cider vinegar & white wine over them. Sprinkle pepper flakes on top and slowly bring to a simmer.
When simmering, add saffron, lemon zest and sugar, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil, then add pectin. Boil hard for 6 minutes to activate the pectin. Remove pan from heat and set aside for 20 minutes.
Ladle jam into small glass jars, and let cool… Or alternatively, for a longer shelf-life, process in a water bath or canning machine.
This jam will remain fresh in your fridge for approx. 1 month.