About a year ago, during a Christmas visit to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, I sampled a bit of a Raspberry Chipotle Barbeque Sauce that was to die for. I mean, it was sooooooo good, I envisioned slathering it on everything from fish and chicken to tofu and grilled veggies. But as much as I wanted to buy it, I just couldn’t justify the purchase; a wee little bottle was priced at just around $13.00 US.
Now, I truly appreciate and try to support the work of artisans as much as I can, but honestly, I’d have to own the Taj Mahal and have eradicated world hunger before I would consider spending $13.00 on a bottle of barbeque sauce. It’s just who I am.
By chance, a few months ago I happened across a recipe for a Strawberry Chipotle Jam on one of my favorite blogs (Ree Drummond’s www.pioneerwoman.com.) Remembering the fantastic combination of fruit with the smoky heat of chipotle peppers, I decided there was no time like the present to try my hand at whipping up a batch.
Having never made jam before, I figured the process would take me an entire afternoon. I was wrong. It took 1-1/2 hours to make three jars (I could have made more, but figured it best to start small) of the most delicious, fruity-smoky-tingly jam ever. The process was so enjoyable, my daughter and I were ready to keep going! And the cost? Each jar cost about $3.00 to make – ingredients, jars, everything. Seriously.
Strawberry Chipotle Jam is delicious on toast and English muffins; I think it would also be fantastic paired with Ritz-style snack crackers and some cream cheese for a quick but elegant hors d’ oeuvre, as well. Here’s the recipe:
Prepare your tools:
Wash 3-4 6-ounce jelly jars, along with the accompanying lids and rings, in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Set rings aside.
To a large, deep stock pot or water bath canner with a jar rack, add water until it completely covers the tops of your jars by at least 1”. Place jars in water, and turn up the heat until water boils. Reduce heat and keep the jars in the hot water until ready to fill.
In separate pan, heat water until hot but not boiling; add lids and keep warm until ready to use.
Line one portion of your counter space with clean dish towels. Set out your jar lifter or tongs, a small non-metallic spatula, a wide-mouth funnel, and a ladle.
Place two small glass or ceramic salad plates into your freezer (you’ll use these for a consistency check later on!).
Assemble your ingredients:
1 quart Strawberries (1 Quart Should Be About 1 1/2 Pounds) See Note Below For Berry Selection
1 whole Large Juicy Lemon, Zested And Juiced
3 cups Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
3 whole Canned Chipotle Peppers, Minced
Make the jam:
Chop half of the berries into small pieces and smash the rest of the berries. You should have approximately 3 cups—a little extra is ok. (Note: we used our metal pastry blender/potato masher to reduce the berries – a food processor set to ‘pulse’ would be quick and easy, too.)
In a saucepan, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Add all the berries and the minced chipotle peppers to the pan. Bring to a low boil. Then lower heat just a bit and simmer for 10 minutes.
A large amount of foam will rise to the surface; it is best to skim this off for a clearer, prettier jam.
After ten minutes, stir and check the gel consistency by placing a small amount of the mixture on a frozen surface. Run your fingers through it. If it is not runny; remove the jam from heat. If it is still runny, simmer for another 5-10 minutes and check again. The jam could take 10-40 minutes to gel properly.
When jam has reached your desired consistency, remove from heat. Remove hot jars from water bath; set on clean kitchen towels to prevent breakage from coming into contact with a cold surface.
Using your ladle and a wide-mouth funnel, place the hot jam in sterilized jars. Leave1/2” of “head room” in each jar to ensure a proper seal. Wipe mouth of jar with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.
Remove lids from hot water bath one at a time, gently place on top of each jar. Screw on rings just until fingertip-tight. Do not over-tighten, as this will cause jars to break. Using jar lifter or tongs, replace jars with jam into water bath and be sure jars are covered with at least 1” of water on top. Bring to a boil, cover, and allow to process for ten minutes.
Remove jars to the clean kitchen towel and allow to cool. During this process, you may hear a “ping” noise; do not panic – this is what is supposed to happen! Do not adjust the rings until jars have completely cooled. Test your seal by pressing down in the center of the jar; if the center stays depressed and solid, your seal is secure.
If the center of the lid springs up and down, your seal is no good. Immediately refrigerate jam, and use within a couple of weeks.
For jars with a good seal, label with contents and date and keep stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Yields 3-4 six ounce jars
*Note about the berries: Try to select 1 cup of slightly-unripe berries for the extra pectin they provide.
Homemade jams make great additions to holiday gift baskets – make extra for friends and family!