Sweetness and heat combine in this unusual jam creation. With plump strawberries and fresh chilli, my Completely Delicious Strawberry Chilli Jam brings a little something special to your breakfast toast or something sweet and spicy to savoury dishes.
“My wish for you is that you continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humour to continue to lighten the burden of your tender heart,” (Maya Angelou).
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
My sister-in-law once told me that taking care of myself would make me a better mother. At the time, I was so deep in nappies and drunk on baby love and sleepless nights that I couldn’t wrap my brain around the concept that it was OK, necessary even, to take time out for myself. It’s taken me a few years, but I get her point now. The single biggest thing I have come to realise as a mother – wait, scrap that – the biggest thing I have come to realise as a grown up human girl is that taking care of myself is simply being kind to myself. I think there is a school bully living in each of us whose purpose is to make us feel we aren’t enough; that we always need to do more…and it’s nonsense.
There is no more. There is just you doing the best you can in that moment. Don’t get me wrong, it might be a particularly crappy moment but it’s just a moment. There’ll be others, better ones even. Worse ones too. Listening to the bully only creates a world of meanness within that is far more damaging than any outside world could inflict. But that voice is hard to ignore, I know. And so I am working to turn down the volume because it doesn’t serve me and it certainly doesn’t serve my family.
I had a drama teacher who told me to practice talking to myself as though I was talking to my own child. What would I say if my child came to me in tears because they thought they would never be enough? Would I let them marinate in self-hate? No. I would wipe away the tears, look at them steadily and tell them that in my eyes, they will always be enough. That my belief in them will carry them forward until they find that belief within themselves.
And so I practice…practice kindness towards myself so that I can offer genuine, heartfelt kindness to others. That Maya Angelou was a clever lady. And now, to the kitchen.
I’ll be brief. This strawberry chilli jam is completely delicious. I didn’t call it completely delicious strawberry chilli jam on a whim; this gorgeously thick, sweet and spicy concoction is just….yum. I have been thinking on this recipe for a long time and I had thought I would make a quick and healthy chia version but when I saw the strawberries and the chillies appear at our markets I did a back flip. To make the most of the two flavours I had to let them meet, simmer and grow gorgeous together.
AN EASY JAM FOR BEGINNERS
Now, I am not a jam maker person, in fact I am a jam virgin. But I did the research and while some experts add the sugar to the strawberries and let it sit, sometimes overnight, others swear by adding the sugar to semi-cooked fruit while on the stove. I did what any self-respecting fence sitter would do, I did both. And it worked. Beautifully.
My completely delicious strawberry chilli jam is an unusual flavour combination that tickles the taste buds in waves. First there is the sweet, familiar stickiness of summer strawberries followed by the heat from the chillies, which teases and fills your mouth briefly only to be soothed by the strawberries again. Perfect on toast, this jam also works beautifully on a mushroom or other savoury burger – try it with my mushroom burgers instead of kimchi or my buttermilk sweet potato scones.
Or like me, enjoy straight from the jar. Enjoy.
COMPLETELY DELICIOUS STRAWBERRY CHILLI JAM
- 1 kilogram slightly unripe and ripe strawberries
- 750 grams raw caster sugar
- 2 chillies finely chopped
- The juice and zest of 3 lemons
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Put three spoons in the freezer.
- Hull the strawberries and cut the larger ones in half.
- Put the berries in a bowl and add 500 grams of sugar. Stir to coat and set aside.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot on low heat and add the oil. Add the chillies and cook for 10 minutes or until perfectly soft.
- Add the sugared berries and the lemon zest and juice.
- Bring the mixture to a good boil for 20 minutes, stirring occassionally to ensure the jam doesn't stick. Watch that the pot doesn't overflow.
- Add the remaining 250 grams of sugar and the sea salt. Stir to combine and continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until setting point.
- To sterilise your jam jars, put them in a cold oven and turn the heat to 110 degrees C. Once the oven has reached temperature, leave the jars in for 15 minutes.
- To sterilise the jar lids, put them in boiling water in a saucepan and continue to boil for 10 minutes. Place the lids on a clean, unused kitchen towel. The lids and jars must be completely dry before use.
- Begin testing the jam for setting point 10 minutes after adding the second batch of sugar. To test, put a drop of jam on to one of the frozen spoons and allow to cool. If, when you drag your fingertip through the jam the path remains clean and doesn't fill with jam again, the jam is at setting point. This may take 30 - 40 minutes.
- Carefully pour the jam in to the sterilised jars and seal with the lids. Store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening.