A month ago, I sat perched on a grassy slope overlooking the sprawling city of San Francisco. Gathered around me were the wonderful people who write Fake Plastic Fish, Kale for Sale, Arduous, Car(bon)free in California and Live Green, Wear Black.
That afternoon, we all had interesting things to share - thoughts, policy arguments, political movements, ideas to change the world and jelly. Jelly? I almost hate to call it jelly - to reduce the sensation, the assault on the taste buds, the cacophony of flavors that we savored to mere "jelly." But that is it was.
After much licking of fingers and pleading, Jenn from Live Green, Wear Black offered to post her recipe for that "jelly" - a symphony of plums and peppers - on her blog.
I had never thought to add heat to my sweet - to drop a front yard jalapeno into a frothy pot of strawberries and sugar. To simmer habaneros and plums. To mix and match. But when Jenn handed me a baguette slathered with her courageous jelly, she gave me that light bulb of an idea. That permission to can outside the box.
This month, as my front yard hot peppers sprinted to a deep, rich red and as I toted home a bag full of a friend's homegrown jalapenos, I've been dabbling in a spicy new world.
Not only have I made Jenn's delicious jelly (make it hotter than you think it should be), but I stirred up some delicious red pepper jam and strawberry pepper jam. I shared Jenn's recipe with a friend who made it and was then inspired to also make blackberry basil jam - which I'm still waiting to taste (ahem).
They say variety is the spice of life.
They also say some like it hot.
I'll admit it. I sure do!
Strawberry Jalapeno Jam
3 3/4 cups of crushed strawberries
1 cup of finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup of bottled lemon juice
7 cups of sugar
1 package of pectin powder
Wash, hull and crush strawberries, one layer at a time measuring 3 3/4 cups. Place in a deep saucepan. Add lemon juice and pectin. Stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to a boil and add the sugar. Stir well to dissolve. Bring back up to a boil and boil hard for one minutes.
Remove from heat and ladle into hot sterilized jars, apply lid and bands and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove from canner and allow to cool and set for 24 hours