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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Burnt Chilli Jam

    I tried to make the chilli jam tonight and it sadly burnt! After you add the chillis and peppers it says bring to the boil and boil rollocking for 10 mins, well, I only boiled it for 7 and disaster struck. Anyone help please as I need to make some for a competition in 10 days time. Thanks, Ian

    From the nigella team:

    We are very sorry to hear that your Chilli Jam burned. There could be a couple of reasons for this. Onne is that pan sizes do vary and a larger sized pan will cook the chilli jam more quickly. Also a pan that has a very thin base or a very thick base (such as a le Creuset) can be problematic as a thin base is likely to have uneven heat distribution, leading to hot spots and burning, and a very thick base can make it difficult to control the heat.

    You should also not over-fill the pan as it can lead to the jam burning before setting point has been reached or, even worse, the jam boiling over. The jam mixture should not come more than 1/3rd up the side of the pan.

    We would suggest keeping an eye on the pan of boiling jam and watching for the jam catching on the bottom of the pan. Don't stir the jam but if you are really worried then you could swirl the pan once or twice but please do this very carefully - wear oven gloves to protect yopu hands and make sure there is no risk of the pan tipping over as boiling sugar can give extremely nasty burns. You could also use a jam tehrmometer to help you, setting point is around 105c/221F so once the chilli jam reaches this point it should be set (you could also test a little on a cold saucer).

    Finally, make sure that you use a jam sugar - one with added pectin - otherwise the jam will not set (in the UK do not confuse this with peserving sugar which does not contain pectin). And make sure the sugar has fully dissolved, with no graniness at all, before letting the mixture boil. 

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