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Chili Jam Queries

Asked by regents. Answered on 9th December 2013

Full question

I have made the Chilli Jam and it tastes divine but is too liquid. What can I do to make it set?

I have made the Chilli Jam and it still tastes of vinegar. Does it need to be boiled for longer? Thanks.

I live in Mumbai and have no access to Jam Sugar or Pectin. I really want to make the chilli jam - is there anything else I can use? Poojitrix.

How long does the Chilli Jam last for?

Our answer

NIgella's Chilli Jam (from Christmas and on the Nigella website) is fairly soft set but should not be liquid. The set for the jam comes from the pectin that is added to the "jam sugar" and this usgrar should not be confused with "preserving sugar" (which doesn't have added pectin). It is likely that the jam was not cooked for long enough for it to set. If you are not sure then it is worth using a jam or candy thermometer when cooking the jam. Setting point is at 104c (220F) and once the mixture reaches this temperature we suggest taking the pan off the heat and checking the set of the jam by dropping a teaspoonful of the jam on to a cold plate and seeing if it sets.

We would not particularly recommend re-boiling the jam, if it is not set and also if it does taste a little of vinegar. The jam is a condiment rather than a conserve, so should not be overly sweet so it may just be that it was a little more acidic than expected (and if it has set then it should have cooked for long enough). There is a risk that the jam could overcook on re-boiling and if you add more pectin before re-boiling then the jam can take on a slightly "chewy" texture (like jelly babies or gummy bears). You could however use the jam as a sweet chilli sauce instead.

Unfortunately as chillis and red bell peppers do not contain pectin then you do need to add pectin to the Chilli Jam mixture, otherwise it will not set. Unflavoured gelatine is not a good alternative as gelatine will not set if it is boiled and also a gelatine mixture will only set if it is chilled and if it remains cold (and it will not store as well as the pectin-set jams). You can extract pectin by cooking green apples and straining the liquid, but this is a complicated process and will also likely leave you with a cloudy Chilli Jam.

If the Chilli Jam is put into properly sterilized jars and sealed promptly then it should last up to 1 year (unopened) if kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Once the jam has beeen opened the opened jar should be stored in the fridge and used within 1 month.

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