It’s the perfect use for those herbs piling up in your garden

By Stacey Ballis
July 10, 2020
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There is no question that while I will do small-batch jam year-round with whatever fruit happens to be lying about my house, summer sees me filling little jars with sweet stuff at a pace that is staggering. There are the jams I wait all year to make (looking at you, black raspberry) and the ones that take ingredients slightly past their prime and elevate them to something new (tomato ginger jam is a surprising favorite). And then there are the “what if” jams, created in those summer moments of boredom and abundance.

This is that jam.

It came out of my herb garden—literally. Recently, my garden herb harvest coincided with all of my windowsill scallion regrowth reaching full height, and a lone serrano pepper going wrinkly in my crisper drawer… and my jam-making kicked in. Could I make jam with all this greenery? I thought of hot pepper jelly, which is a favorite condiment, and figured it would be worth a try. I wasn’t wrong. I’ve found this hot little number is great on sandwiches, cheeses, or as a condiment with meats.

Barbara Rich/Getty Images

How to Make Spicy Pepper Jam

The ratios are pretty simple. You’ll need:

  • A pound of chopped material (any combination of scallions, herbs, shallots, or ramps, if you can still grab them)  
  • One to two spicy peppers like serrano, jalapeno, or habanero (if you don’t have fresh hot peppers around, add up to a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Kosher salt, sugar, vinegar (white balsamic or apple cider)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered pectin

1. Pop your chopped material in a bowl with half a tablespoon of kosher salt and massage it a bit until it starts to feel juicy.

2. Put the mixture into a colander over the sink or over a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Squeeze to remove as much excess liquid as possible. If you are really feeling frugal, save the liquid and add to your next batch of vegetable soup.

3. Put the squeezed greens in a deep pot and add a cup of sugar, a half-cup of white balsamic or apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until you reach 215 degrees on a thermometer.

4. Remove from heat and whisk in a tablespoon of powdered pectin, then return to the heat and whisk for 1-2 minutes until you see the mixture thicken.

5. Spoon into jars and let cool to room temp, then store in the fridge for up to a month.

Play With Variations!

Here's the fun of this basic ratio recipe: You can use it with any like items in your garden, windowshelf, and fridge! Some fun combinations I've discovered are scallion and fennel fronds with serrano, or shallot with sorrel and Thai chilis. Once you know the technique, experiment with adding other aromatics like ginger, lemongrass, or citrus zests or think about the herbs in other recipes. I love what I call my “poultry” version: scallions with parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, serrano, and lemon zest. No better condiment to make a weeknight chicken sing.

Now let’s jam!