Spicy Strawberry Jam

Ashlie was commenter #18 and is the winner of the Almost Meatless giveaway. Congrats to Ashlie and many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. I feel very lucky to have such engaged readers and appreciate all of your thoughtful comments.

When I saw Amanda Hesser’s recipe for Preserved Strawberries with Chilies over on food52 recently, I was intrigued. I’m a big fan of the whole “sweet heat” concept, so I knew I’d love this combination.

I ran out to my local natural foods store, bought a pound of organic strawberries (they were on sale, a bonus), and made the recipe right away.

strawberrychilejamtop

I am not sure whether I’m correct in calling this a jam (or if it’s really “preserves” or “conserves”), but I am sure that this recipe is delicious. I’ve made it twice now.

And I’ll definitely be making it again, as the strawberries are now ripening in my garden (so no more running out to the store).

strawberryonvine

I used organic sugar and dried aji panca chile (available in my OpenSky shop) in the recipe.

aji panca

This jam is sweet without being over the top, and I think it has just the perfect amount of heat. Feel free to substitute 1 dried New Mexico chile or 1-2 ancho chiles instead of the aji panca chile. I recommend sampling the jam as it cooks so you can guage if it is spicy enough for you, but keep in mind that some of the chile flavor may fade a bit after a few days.

Note that I got two slightly different results the two times I made this jam. The first batch (which you see in the picture at the top of this post) cooked down to 1 cup and was a gorgeous deep red hue. It had large chunks of candied strawberries, and the chilies were quite broken down.

The second batch (which you see spread on the bread at the end of this post) made almost 2 cups, has more of the typical jam consistency, and has larger pieces of the dried chile.

Clearly I did something different the second time (didn’t break up the chile as much? stirred it more vigorously but cooked it a little less time? ), but I loved it both ways…

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jamonbread

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Amanda Hesser's Preserved Strawberries with Chiles

Adapted from the recipe for Preserved Strawberries with Chilies on food52
Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • * 1 pound whole ripe strawberries preferably organic
  • * 1 dried aji panca chile or 1 New Mexico chile or 1-2 anchos, if you prefer, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped (no need to rehydrate)
  • * 1 cup organic sugar
  • * Juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions

  • 1. Place the strawberries in a heavy, medium-size pot with the chile(s) and the sugar.
  • 2. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Stir gently every 10-15 minutes, being careful not to break up the strawberries: you want them to stay as whole as possible.
  • 3. After an hour, the strawberries should appear shrunken and the syrup will have thickened considerably. Add the lemon juice and stir everything around before removing from the heat. Allow to cool a bit before you spoon into a 1-2 cup glass jar and store in the refrigerator (where it should keep for several weeks). It will thicken more as it cools.