Thursday, October 20, 2011

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

This recipe was a experiment that actually turned out pretty good!  When it's me doing the cooking, I almost always use a recipe, but Mr P almost never uses one.  He uses his 5 senses instead.  He knows what it's supposed to look like, -feel like, -smell like, (-sound like? almost never), and most importantly - taste like.  Mr P always says a good cook tastes his food while cooking.

For making jam, sometimes it's hard to tell what it's supposed to taste like before it's done, but I suppose you could always add more sugar or lemon juice to sweeten it or make it more tart.  Mr P wanted me to make jam, because the first time I made it, it was amazing, and I should have made much more.  I made rhubarb jam.  The taste was right, the texture was right, and it went well as a topping for anything.  I put it on ice cream, I put it in my yogurt, and I have to admit, there were a few times I just ate a spoonful.

But, everytime I've tried to make it afterwards, it just hasn't been as good.  Rhubarb is very sour, so adding sugar to it and cooking it sort of balances everything out without being too sour or too sweet.  Afterwards I tried making strawberry jam (an experimental flop), but it was just so stinking sweet it was hard to eat.  We ended up throwing most of it out because it didn't go well with anything.

This past weekend I wanted to give strawberry jam a try again (since we always have them frozen in the freezer for smooooothies).  I squeezed in some lemon juice, added some sugar, stirred every few minutes until the sugar was dissolved, and let it simmer for a looong time.  Most of the time you should use pectin in jellies and jams, but I just wanted to do it without it!  I always thought that pectin was bad, something overprocessed, and man-made, unnatural.  It wasn't until after I made this last batch of jam that I realized that it's something found in all fruits!  Well that was just silly... I should have researched it before I boycotted using it.  Some fruits are just low in pectin, and therefore don't have the ability to "gel" as well as others.  This website explains the science behind it all pretty well.

Anyways, this recipe does NOT use pectin, though maybe the next time I do an experimental run on making jam, I will try it. It is runnier than I would like, but it goes sooooo well on plain oatmeal for breakfast!!!  Also, it was going to be just strawberry jam, until I remembered we had jalapenos in the fridge, so I thought... why not?

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

1 pound of strawberries (I used frozen, but you could use fresh if they are in season)
1 jalapeno, diced in very small pieces
2 cups of sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp corn starch (if you need it)

Add strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a pot, and heat on low until the sugar is dissolved enough that you have pretty much a soupy mixture with some strawberries thrown in, stirring every few minutes.  Turn up to medium heat and cook until sugar is completely dissolved and strawberries are soft.  Turn off heat, and pulse with immersion blender until strawberries have pureed.  Simmer the pot until the jam has reduced by 1/3.   Allow to cool enough to touch.  If you have not reached your desired consistency, mix the cornstarch with a little bit of COLD water, and stir into mixture.  This should make the jam a bit thicker.  Keep in mind this jam will be soupier than most, but the flavor is great!  It's sweet from the strawberries, but the hint of spice adds an unexpected (but pleasant) element to the taste.  Transfer to mason jar (our new favorite!!) or other storage container, and use as your please :D

Like I mentioned before, I think I will try pectin next time.  I just hope it's not toooo jelly-like and more jam-like.

before blitzed with the immersion blender

Stay tuned for the next jam post!  Until then, I will be eating this "makes-me-look-forward-to-breakfast" breakfast :D

yummy oatmeal with jam

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