Hot and Sweet Pepper Jam

December 15th, 2010 / Comments 0

I tasted red pepper jam for the first time at a Christmas open house hosted by my friend Leah. She had centered a block of cream cheese on a red plate, dumped (her word not mine) a jar of red pepper jam on top and surrounded the cheese with crackers.

pepper jam Hot and Sweet Pepper Jam

Leah comes from Atlanta and was amazed that I had never tasted this party classic. She generously shared the collection of cream cheese dip recipes that she had found in her Junior League cookbooks. Leah is a self-described ‘dump-cook,’ she doesn’t measure ingredients and doesn’t cook what she can buy. She used pepper jelly from the market but I prefer the flavor of homemade hot and sweet red pepper jam. This jam uses liquid pectin to thicken and has never failed to gel. Here’s how I did it:

Sweet and Hot Red Pepper Jam

I used a food processor to chop three medium, seeded and de-ribbed sweet peppers, about two cups, and two medium seeded and de-ribbed hot red peppers. I added half a cup of cider vinegar to the food processor and chopped until the mixture was a very coarse puree.

I put the puree into a medium saucepan along with one cup of cider vinegar and one teaspoon of kosher salt and simmered it, uncovered, for five minutes. I removed it from the heat, measured the mixture and added enough water to make a total of three cups of liquid. I added six and a half cups of sugar, brought the mixture to a full, rolling boil over high heat and boiled it for one minute. I removed it from the heat and stirred in a six-ounce bottle of liquid pectin. I skimmed off the foam, cooled the jam for three minutes, and stirred it to distribute the bits of pepper before I ladled the jam into sterilized half-pint jars and sealed the jars following the manufacture’s directions.

I like this jam with roasted chicken or spread on a roast beef sandwich. Whenever I serve it as she did, I think of Leah and her family, back in Atlanta, and wonder what she’s dumping on cream cheese.

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