Three years ago, we planted a good-sized raspberry patch in our back yard, and finally this year we are getting a good crop of fruit. The bushes are so loaded that it’s hard to keep up with the picking. It’s a good problem to have, of course, and we are all enjoying the bounty immensely.
Sometimes the boys will head down to the raspberry patch in the morning for a little (or, more likely, big) post-breakfast snack. I like to go down there later in the day when the sun is getting low, and things have cooled off a bit, for a little picking and eating – about the best afternoon snack I can think of!
With lots of berries for fresh eating, and some in the freezer already, a jam seemed in order this week. I love straight-up raspberry jam, but this time I thought I’d try something a little different and add some hot pepper – habanero, to be exact.
Habaneros are very hot, which is one reason I like to use them – a little goes a long way in terms of heat. I also love their orange color, which looks lovely when combined with red raspberries.
This jam does have a pretty good kick to it, no doubt about it. But if you’re worried it’s going to be insanely, unpalatably hot, please let me reassure you. The recipe includes both sweet bell pepper and habanero pepper, and calls for boiling the peppers in water for a few minutes before adding them to the raspberries. This reduces the heat of the habanero significantly. If you still think it might be too hot, you can always reduce the quantity of habanero that you use.
Speaking of pepper quantity, there is one really important point to understand: it’s essential that you do not increase the overall quantity of pepper in this recipe. Doing so would decrease the acidity level of the jam, making it potentially unsafe for boiling water bath canning.
So, if you want it to be extra hot and choose to increase the amount of the habanero in the recipe, it’s essential that you decrease the quantity of bell pepper by the same amount. On the other hand, if you decrease the amount of habanero that you use, you can replace that quantity with an equal amount of the sweet bell pepper if you want to.
Along these same lines, since lemon juice is largely responsible for the acidity level in this jam, it’s essential that you use the full quantity of lemon juice called for in the recipe. Additionally, be sure that you use bottled lemon juice; bottled lemon juice has a standard level of acidity, while the acid level of fresh lemons can vary.
This jam is great at breakfast on toast if you’re looking for a little kick-start to your day. It’s also really delicious paired with a sharp cheddar, on crackers, or with a crusty baguette. I have to say, though, that my most favorite way to enjoy this jam is on top of vanilla ice cream. The hot and spicy, tangy sweetness of the jam complements the cool creaminess of ice cream beautifully. Enjoy!
Raspberry-Habanero Jam is a low-sugar cooked jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener. See below for where to buy. This recipe was created by Allison Carroll Duffy for Pomona’s Pectin.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Raspberry-Habanero Jam Ingredients
2¼ pounds raspberries (about two level quarts)
4 Tablespoons seeded, finely-diced yellow bell pepper
4 Tablespoons seeded, finely-diced habanero pepper
1/3 cup lemon juice
2½ teaspoons calcium water
1½ cups sugar
2½ teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder
Raspberry-Habanero Jam Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. Combine the diced yellow pepper, the diced habanero pepper, and 1 cup of water in a sauce pan. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and simmer, still covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Working over the sink or a large bowl, carefully transfer the pepper mixture into a fine-mesh strainer to drain the water from the peppers. Discard the water and set the cooked peppers aside.
5. Place the raspberries in a mixing bowl and mash them lightly. A potato masher works well for this. Add the cooked peppers to the raspberries, and mix to combine.
6. Measure out 4 cups of the raspberry-pepper mixture (If you have extra, simply use it for something else.) Pour the measured amount of the mixture into a large sauce pan. Add lemon juice and calcium water, then stir to combine.
7. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.
8. Bring the raspberry-pepper mixture up to rolling boil over high heat. Add the sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return jam to a boil, then remove from heat.
9. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jam, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
10. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
11. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.
12. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Then confirm that jars have sealed. Enjoy your preserves! Or store properly for later use.
Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy