Raspberry Jalapeno Jam

The truth is, I love to pick raspberries. I have done it almost every summer of my life. From my youth when I used to go out into my Nona's garden and pick bucket full after bucket full of fresh ripe berries to my adult life where I annually go to Whittamore Farm and once again pick bucket after bucket full. I make jam (of course) but I also freeze a lot of berries so that throughout the long, cold winter I can go to my deep freeze whenever I feel like a burst of summer and pull out a bag of berries I froze in the summer and make freezer jam or simply defrost and stir into a bowl of yogourt.

I have been hoarding my last bag of berries, almost afraid to eat them until berry season was so close that I knew it wouldn't be long before I could refresh my 'fix'. Tonight I finally broke down and decided it was time to do something with the last bag that has been taunting me every time I opened my deep freeze over the last few weeks.

At the start of the year I had a wonderful conversation with a woman named Barb, or Mrs V Preserves as she is also known. She was giving me some tips on where to get pectin in bulk and what type of jar she uses for her preserves and what she has found sells well for her at the markets she attends. She mentioned Raspberry Jalapeno Jam and to be honest that has been stuck in my brain like a burr ever since our conversation. But there has always been something more pressing in season that I was making.

Well tonight, that bag of berries screamed out "Mix me with Jalapeno's pretty please". I was powerless to resist.

What you are looking at here is my very last bag of frozen fresh raspberries from last summer. It is hard to admit that I have no more, but it is made easier by the fact that I know it won't be long before I am once again in the raspberry patch breathing in that delicious scent of fresh berries, picking ripe berries and placing them in my basket. Getting lost in the simplicity and repitition of the process and glowing from the inside out.

I adapted my favourite raspberry jam recipe to make this and the end result is something that I never quite expected. You still get the sweetness of the berries but it ends with a heat that dances across your tongue. I picture it with a sharp cheddar. In fact the entire time I was making it I was imagining it with cheese. Let's be honest, I imagine almost every savoury jam with cheese, it is a weakness I am not ashamed to admit. But because of that, I chose to use slightly less sugar so the consistency of the final product will be slightly runnier than my usual somewhat firm raspberry jam.

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam (makes 3-250ml jars)

Wash and prepare your jars and warm your lids accordingly.

3 cups frozen or fresh raspberries

2 jalapenos

2 cups sugar

Cut the jalapeno's in half and wrap them in cheesecloth seeds and all. Set aside

Pour the berries into your pot and place over medium heat and mash frantically (you don't have to get quite that into it, but I get some sort of strange enjoyment over beating up my raspberries :) ) until liquified. This helps release the natural pectins in the seeds and eliminates the need for pectin in your jam.

Add the jalapenos wrapped in cheesecloth and simmer over low heat for approximately 20 minutes. Remove jalapenos from the liquified berries and remove from the cloth. Cut the seeds out of 2 halves and place the jalapeno back into the pot. Discard the second jalapeno.

Add the 2 cups of sugar and stir until the sugar completely dissolves and then increase the heat to medium high and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. As soon as the fruit begin to foam, remove the jalapenos and skim off the foam. Once the jam has reached the desired consistency remove from heat, ladle into hot jars and seal with lids. Place jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

This Saturday at Withrow Market you can guarantee that I will be buying some sharp cheddar cheese so I can try my new jam!