One of the family’s firm favourites at this time of the year is Chilli Jam made with the copious tomatoes and chillies which abound in my garden just now. Everyone seems to find the combination of Chillies, Ginger, Sugar and Garlic quite addictive. I see no point in making a lily-livered version of this, and am more than pleased with something which is as hot as you might find in your local Thai Restaurant. Definitely Madras not Vindaloo!
For several years I have used a home recipe loosely based on the wonderful one given by Sarah Raven in her book “Sarah Ravens Garden Cookbook” published by Bloomsbury in 2007. Actually, this book is now so dog- chewed and splattered with various substances that I found it hard to read the title, let alone the publication details. But I prefer my take on this recipe, which allows you to use up your really ripe salad tomatoes and home- grown chillies and also create, from any spare pots which may be secreted somewhere cool and dry, some excellent presents for Dinner Party Occasions and Christmas!
Now the main ingredient for this jam is tomato. In the past I have used mainly San Marzano Plum tomatoes which, being very fleshy, reduce very nicely to a jammy consistency. However, I have recently been using up my endless supply of Alicante Salad Tomatoes from the Greenhouse. Generally they are not so good to cook with as they are quite juicy, albeit very sweet and full of flavour, and full of pips, so take a lot of reducing . However, with careful preparation, they make a most excellent Chilli Jam. You can use any tomatoes for this, as long as they are supremely ripe and bursting with flavour. I have added some crab apple pulp to help this jam set, but no need to include this if you are using plum tomatoes.
1kg of halved and de-seeded Very Ripe Salad Tomatoes, or 1 kg of Whole Plum Tomatoes,
1 whole head of Garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
12 whole Chillies. Birds Eye type are best, I use my own Etna Chillies
50 to 70 g of whole Ginger Root, depending on your taste
700g Granulated Sugar
4 Tablespoons of Thai Fish Sauce
200ml Red Wine Vinegar
350g Crab Apples, or any sour cooking apple roughly chopped.(optional if you are using plum tomatoes)
First put the apples in a pan and scarcely cover them with water. Simmer them until soft and then pass them through a sieve. You should end up with about 450 ml of pulp.
Whilst they are softening, put your prepared jars and lids into a warm oven of around 100C to sterilise.
Blitz the garlic, chillies and ginger in a food processor, or very finely chop them by hand. Then add the de-seeded tomatoes, or whole plum tomatoes, and process on pulse until finely chopped.
Add the tomato mixture to a large stainless steel preserving pan, and pour in the apple pulp, 700 g sugar and the Vinegar and Fish sauce.
Warm the mixture gradually to dissolve the sugar. When all the ingredients have been on a slow simmer for around 5 minutes, increase the heat to a vigorous boil, and cook, stirring absolutely continuously, for around 15 minutes. Test the mixture for setting. To do this, remove the pot from the heat, take a teaspoon of the mixture and put it on a cold plate. If it is no longer running freely, and is starting to look like jam with a little wrinkle or two on cooling, then it is done. If you are not including the apple pulp, then you will need to cook this for longer and at a lower temperature until the tomatoes reduce to a jammy consistency.
Pot up quickly into your warmed jars, and seal straight away.
This jam will keep in a cool place for quite a few months, but should be refrigerated on opening due to its relatively low sugar and vinegar content.
From the recipe given above, I made 5 and a half 250g pots.