Capture the taste of summer with this Strawberry Habanero Jam. You could eat this right away, but I would advise you to save it for a rainy day when you need a gentle reminder that warmer weather is around the corner. The heat is subtle which makes it a perfect topping for vanilla ice cream.
I grew up in Orange County, California which is located about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. Orange County was named for the extensive orange groves that used to line the hillsides. In my hometown, there was a stretch of land leading to the freeway that was thickly lined with orange trees and, as kids, we would often play in the groves, climb the trees, and pick oranges, which I don’t think you were supposed to do, but it was the 80’s and things were much less regulated than they are now. Sadly, those trees have since been removed, but I think there may be a few left on the perimeter of the community college at the intersection where this photo was taken.
At the end of that stretch leading to the freeway was a produce stand that used to sell the biggest, most luscious strawberries. They would set them out in these huge boxes and since the weather in California is always warm, you could pretty much buy strawberries from that stand year-round. There are only a few occasions that I can remember driving by and seeing the stand closed.
Living in the Midwest for the past nine years (!) has given me a new appreciation for seasonal produce. Strawberries, which were once a staple in my lunchbox are now a treat I treasure because they are only at their ripest, juiciest, and reddest for about 10 weeks each year. True, you can buy strawberries at your local grocery store during the off-season, but there is a noticeable difference in their plumpness and flavor when you get them in season.
A few weeks ago, my friend Jenny B from Honey & Birch came over with a boat load of strawberries and an idea for strawberry habanero jam. I meant to make jam last summer, but was too busy pickling everything I could get my hands on that I never got around to it.
To make this jam you combine fresh strawberries with sugar, lemon juice, liquid pectin, and minced habaneros. Habaneros have a Scoville rating of 100,000 – 350,000 making them 10 times hotter than a serrano chili and probably the hottest pepper you will find in a conventional grocery store. The heat in chili peppers is concentrated in the ribs and seeds of the pepper, but when you make this jam, leave the seeds in those habaneros because I promise the end result will surprise you.
Now, you might thinking, “Three habaneros! With seeds! I’ll burn my face off!” You will not. The heat in this jam is subtle, almost undetectable at first. It isn’t until you swallow it that you start to feel a warming sensation on your tongue that is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the strawberries.
This recipe makes approximately 10 half pint (8 ounce) jars of jam. I can’t wait to open one of these bad boys in the middle of a winter storm and drizzle the fresh taste of summer over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
This recipe makes about 10 half pint (8 ounce) jars of jam. You will need a water bath canner and some basic canning equipment to make this recipe. You also need to make sure you use liquid pectin.
- 4 cups crushed strawberries (measure after you crush them)
- 7 cups granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 habanero peppers, minced
- 1 package liquid fruit pectin
- Prepare water canner by bringing water to a boil. In a separate pot, heat lids and bands in simmering water until ready to use. You also need to heat your jars. You can do this by simmering them in the same pot as your lids and bands or run them through a cycle in your dishwasher.
- In a bowl, crush fresh strawberries using a potato masher making sure to leave some chunks for texture.
- Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and habaneros in a large pot and bring to a full boil.
- Stir in 1 package liquid fruit pectin and boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a spoon.
- Using a ladle, divide hot jam evenly among hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by running a knife around the inside edge of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet paper towel. Sticky jam on the jar could result in the jars not sealing properly. Place the hot lid on the jar and tightly screw on the bands.
- Place jars in a water bath canner and make sure they are completely covered with water. Bring the water to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars, let cool, and wait for the home canner's favorite sound, the "pop" of your jars sealing!
- After 24 hours, check the seals. The lids should not bounce up and down when you push on them with your fingertip. Store in a cool place until ready to use.