Saturday 15 December 2012

Chilli Jam

A Guest Post by Catherine Haslam

Chilli Jam
I met the lovely Catherine Haslam through cake club a few months ago. Although she had only met me once, she was kind enough to help with our Summer Fete in July and offered her services again earlier this month at our Christmas Fair. My friend Dawn and I put the events on to raise funds for Bolton Neo Natal Unit. 

Catherine made this amazing chilli jam for our home made cake stall. It sold like hot cakes, and everyone who has tried it has ranted and raved about just how good this is! It's fiery yet sweet and all kinds of wonderful. I asked her to do a guest post on her wonderful jam, and luckily she agreed! Yay! Massive thanks for this great post!

I've been asked to write a guest blog and I can tell you that I'm thrilled and nervous!  I love a good read of a blog or a browse on twitter but have been a casual observer for some time.  Now I've been asked to get active and write!  Little ol' me?  

I love Baking, always have.  My gran always had boxes and boxes of homemade treats whenever we went to see her, and my mum has always baked too - from all our birthday cakes as kids to prize winning scones at local village fetes.  So I've always had a great interest in baking, and wanted to be able to create moreish morsels for my friends and family to enjoy.  I love to get involved with the local community too and supporting local charities, so after joining the Bolton branch of the Clandestine Cake Club, I volunteered to bake for the Baking for Babies events that Rachel has helped organise recently, and over the summer.

And that's where the blog comes in.  For the Christmas Fair I decided to go for something different.  I knew the stall would be inundated with amazing cakes and biscuits, so offered to make some Chilli Jam instead.  It's a recipe that both my Dad and I use and there's always a jar of it in our houses.  So for those who have tried it and loved it, and those who are intrigued enough to give it a go, here's the recipe...

  • 450g tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 60g balsamic vinegar
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

  1. Chop & remove the stems from the tomatoes, peel & chop the garlic and ginger, and de-seed and finely chop the chillies.
  2. Put all of the above chopped ingredients into a blender, followed by the rest of the ingredients, and blitz.
  3. Put the blitzed ingredients into a medium/large pan and bring to the boil.
  4. Boil for 25-30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.  It sounds like a long time, but you'll need it.  You won't need to stir as often in the beginning, but as the mixture thickens it's more likely to catch and burn, so you'll find you need to stir more towards the end of the time.
  5. To test if the mixture is ready, remove a small amount with a teaspoon and allow to cool.  It should be quite thick and jam-like!  If it's not ready, boil for another 5 or so minutes.
  6. Once it's cooked, take the pan off the heat and leave the mixture to cool for 20 minutes.
  7. Then you can put the mix in a sterilised glass jar - leave the lid on top but don't close it, and leave the jam to completely cool before sealing the jam.

The jar never gets sealed in our house before I've 'tested' it by spreading some on a chunk of mature cheddar cheese!

I love it on cheese, on crackers, on both.  I also love it on sandwiches with cold meats, and my dad often makes us savoury pancakes and we smear it on those too.  I'm yet to find something I don't like it with - even just off the back of the teaspoon!

It'll keep in the jar for a good couple of months - if it lasts that long.  A batch made with the ingredients above will half fill a tall Kilner jar.  I doubled the recipe and that made half a dozen smaller jam jars of Chilli Jam for the Christmas Fair.  I'll be doing the same again for stocking fillers for some of the family as it's a real winner.

We like it a little spicier and so I tend to buy smaller red chillies, or put 3 in instead of 2.  If you're unsure I would head down to Bolton market and ask.  We always buy our fruit & veg from there- they're always really helpful, and it's great produce.

I hope that's set your taste buds racing and that you'll give it a go.  I'd never made jam or chutney of any sort before I made this, but now it's a regular feature in my kitchen.

Please leave your comments below... x

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