Chilli jam

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I’ve been boring my boyfriend to death for weeks, telling him I want to make my own chilli jam. In my head, I’d already dreamed up my small business venture, selling preserves and sauces, all made by me, at London farmer’s markets and making a fortune. The fact that I’d never made jam, or anything like it, didn’t factor. So, today, I put my money where my mouth is and tried my hand at tomato and chill jam. I looked online for recipes, but they all said such varying things that I kind of just made it up as I went along, assuming that I’d gauge how runny or thick, spicy or tasteless it was on the first go, and adapt next time. Turns out (and this is quite rare) it was ‘perfect’ the first time. Said boyfriend’s words, not mine, I promise. And if you knew him, you’d be heading to the shop to snap up these ingredients pronto, because there are few more honest than he.

Makes 1 large / 2 small Kilner jars-worth

2 large red onions (sliced finely)

325g cherry tomatoes (halved)

500g plum tomatoes (halved)

3 red chillis (sliced and chopped – very small is key!)

2 scotch bonnets (sliced and chopped – very small is key!)

1 tablespoon Lazy Ginger (chopped finely)

200ml white wine vinegar

250g soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

(and a large, or two small, Kilner jars)

First thing’s first: sterilise the Kilner jars. Wash them in super hot, soapy water and then dry them in the oven at 150 for 10 minutes.

Then take the chopped onions and put into a hot saucepan or casserole dish (whichever is bigger as you need a bit of space for this one!) and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the plum tomatoes. Mix and continue to cook on a low heat for another 5-10 minutes and then add the cherry tomatoes.

Add the chillis and ginger and then the vinegar and brown sugar. Mix well and bring to the boil. Once your concoction is bubbling away – and really, don’t rush this – turn the heat down a little and simmer for 45 minutes.

You’ll want to keep stirring and will know that it’s almost ready when you give it a big stir and it parts like the red sea, with the sticky mixture creepy reeeeally slowly back together. At this point splash in your soy sauce, cook for 5-10 more minutes and then pop into your jars.

Allow it to cool with the lids off, which will take 30 minutes or so, and then close and store away. Once you’ve started using it, it’s best to keep your jar in the fridge and it’ll last 2-3 months like this.

Not sure what to use your chilli jam for? WELL! So far, I’ve used mine at breakfast with guacamole, bacon and egg (recipe over here), as a relish in homemade burgers (get the recipe here) and as part of a late night cheese board. There’s no recipe for that – just invest in Jacob’s finest and head to your local cheese counter. Let me know how you use yours!


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Freelance writer, eater, drinker and cook living in London.

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