I was quite saddened to hear that singer James Taylor’s mother died last week. She had a ‘good innings’ as they say (92) but it doesn’t matter how old we are when a close relative or friend dies, it’s still a wrench to those remaining behind and it takes a long time, if ever, to feel that you’re back on an even keel. My sister had his album ‘Sweet Baby James‘ back in the 70’s and, yes Fay, t’was me that nicked it when you moved out. Sorry. And I’m only mentioning it because a) I’m very fond of a bit of Sweet Baby James, and b) it reminded me that I had this recipe that I was going to post, and then got sidetracked by other things, and it was only when I read the sad news that it occurred to me that as it actually is the best time of the year for making preserves I’d better get on with it.
So far, in the last few weeks, I’ve made Strawberry Jam, Marmalade, and this rather nice Sweet Chilli Jam. I still have Christmas mincemeat and, trying it for the first time ever, pickled beetroot, to make. If you’re one of those super-efficient people who can manage to grow crops and have surplices of them then congratulations. What I have is not so much green fingers, as the black finger of death when it comes to plants. Out of 9 strawberry plants I have a crop of 10 strawberries. I had to make the jam with shop bought ones. The marmalade was made with a tin of Ma Made. And yes, I had to buy the peppers and chillies for this jam, but trust me, it’s worth it. Of course, if you are looking for a recipe to use up a surplice then…………………… I’m intensely jealous 😀
Sweet Chilli Jam
- 3 red chillies, including the seeds (yes, it’s got a kick, but not unpleasantly so)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4cm piece of fresh ginger, or 2 heaped tsp of ginger puree
- 500g granulated sugar
- 250g soft brown sugar
- 250ml red wine vinegar
- 1kg any combination of red/orange/yellow peppers
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 20g raisins
Put the chillies, peppers, ginger and garlic into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. You may have to put the peppers in a few at a time, chop, stop, add another few etc until they’re all done.
Put the sugars and the vinegar into a large saucepan and cook gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the chillie/pepper mix, along with the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook for and hour to 90 minutes. Stir it every so often to make sure it doesn’t stick and burn.
Stick a couple of saucers into the freezer. Once the jam has become thick and syrupy take a teaspoon of the mixture and put in onto the cold saucer. Leave it for a minute and then test to see of the surface wrinkles when you push it (astonishing enough, this is called ‘the wrinkle test’). If it does then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool down. If it doesn’t, put the pan back onto the heat for a couple of minutes and then try again. As they say ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’. Add the soy sauce and the raisins at this point. Once the mixture has cooled sufficiently you can ladle it into sterilised jars. You can buy proper preserving jars, or else be frugal and keep jars throughout the year and just reuse them. Just remember, no matter what kind you’re using, to wash them in hot soapy water and pop them into a preheated oven (120˚C for 20 minutes). Fill them almost to the top and put the lid on loosely. After 10 minutes you can tighten the lid and then store it in a cool dry place until ready to eat.
It goes well with cheese, or at a barbecue, but it’s finest hour has to be smeared onto a fried egg in a Mortons breakfast roll.