Top tips for making Chilli jam
Most jams follow a similar trend. Add two parts of fruit to one part sugar to a pectin rich fruit and then boil it, you get jam. Most of the time, this works pretty well. However, sometimes not! To be successful in jam making, there are a few tricks to be aware of, but also you need to be sure that the jam you make are safe. Food safety is paramount
Always ensure that equipment and utensils are washed in warm soapy water. Rinse in fresh water to eliminate any detergent traces, and then allow to air dry. The jars and lids for bottling need to be washed in the same way. The jars should however be dried in an oven at 100 degrees Celsius. Place the lids in boiling water for at least ten minutes and then allow them to dry. Doing this will reduce the risk of the jam becoming contaminated with unwanted bacteria during bottling.
After that follow these tips and your recipes instructions to get it right every time.
1) The amount of sugar you add is a personal preference. Reducing sugar will result in jam that is less set.
2) Use a cooking pot with a large surface area. Part of the jam making process is to evaporate liquid out of the fruit to concentrate the flavour. Having a pot with a large surface area will help.
3) When using fruit with low pectin levels, you will need to add pectin or use pectin sugar to make an adequately set jam
4) Slightly under ripe (rather than over ripe) fruit makes better jam because it is more acidic. Acidity is needed for pectin to set,
5) Some fruit has lower pectin contents than others (the stuff in the fruit that makes jam set once it is boiled). The following list of fruits used to make jams with Chillies shows their various pectin levels
- Citrus – ( Spicy marmalade) – Particularly good pectin levels (especially lemons and limes)
- Rhubarb - (Rhubarb jam with Chilli and ginger) – low pectin
- Apricots - ( Apricot and Chilli jam) - low pectin levels
- Peaches (Jalapeno peach jam) – low levels of pectin
- Pineapples (Pineapple Chilli jam) - low pectin
- Strawberries ( Strawberry Chilli jam) – low pectin levels
- Apples ( Apple and Chilli jam) – High when under ripe, moderate when ripe
- Pears ( Pear, saffron and Chilli jam) – low pectin levels
- Mangos ( Rocotto and mango jam) – low levels of pectin
6) Always gently simmer the fruit being used before adding sugar. Boiling helps release pectin from the fruit. Always dissolve the sugar in the fruit before bringing the jam to the boil to prevent crystallisation
7) Wash and chop the fruit before boiling it. Mashing the fruit will make the jam smoother
8) Add lemon juice (one to two tablespoons) to increase the acidity of the fruit. Doing this will aid pectin extraction, but also make the jam less sweet. Do this at the start of the cooking
9) Adding a knob of butter to the boiling jam will help reduce any scum that may float to the surface.
Making Chillies jams is rewarding. Not only do they taste delicious, but they also make excellent gifts because they are unusual. The same can be said about Chilli chutneys. Both are a great way to make something different for a friend or family member.