Home-grown Chili Jam

, written by gb flag

Home-made chili jam on toast

Chili jam is hands-down the most amazingly tasty thing I’ve ever eaten! I first enjoyed it on a veggie burger in a pub in the Lake District and, since then, whenever I’ve seen it on a menu I’ve found it impossible to resist. Strange, then, that I hadn’t considered making my own until recently.

Freezing has always been my favored method of preserving chilies for later use – simple but effective – but this year when I found myself with a not-unwelcome glut of chilies, I decided to try an alternative method. I briefly considered dehydrating, but then I remembered that delectable chili jam.

I had never made any kind of jam before, but I guess I was feeling reckless that day. I shamelessly purloined a recipe from Nigella Lawson, purchased jam sugar and cider vinegar, washed out some old jars that I’d been keeping just in case, and rushed out to the garden to pick my chilies.


Amazing Chili Jam Recipe

For the last couple of years I’ve been growing the incredibly prolific ‘Gusto Green’ chili. Despite the name, the fruits do turn red – the green refers to its unripe color. It differs from the related chili of the same name, which sports a purple hue before it ripens. I mixed these with another variety I’m growing, whose name escapes me (the seeds came free with a magazine), but which is pretty mild. I harvested all the red chilies I had that day, plus a few greens. I suppose I could have waited another day for more fully red chilies, but the memory of sumptuous chili jam was tingling on my tastebuds and patience has never been a virtue of mine.

When making chili jam – or any jam – the first thing to do is to pop a saucer in the fridge to chill, for testing the setting point later on. Wash out your jars and put them upside down on a tray in the oven at 140°C (285°F). You can run them through the dishwasher if you prefer.

You can remove all the seeds from your chilies, or leave in as many seeds and as much pith as you like to amp up the spiciness. Give them a quick blitz in the food processor. Add the flesh of a couple of sweet peppers then blitz again.


Next, the jam sugar needs to be gently dissolved in the cider vinegar. I used my heavy-bottomed soup pot for this. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, scrape the chopped chilies and peppers out of the food processor and into the pan then boil for around 10 minutes. Easy so far!

Now the wrinkle test. Spoon a small amount of jam onto your chilled saucer. Leave it a moment to cool then push it with your finger. When I first did this, the jam did not wrinkle, but a second attempt two or three minutes later yielded the fabled wrinkling effect. Yes! Against all the odds, I had managed to not mess it up!


Now, the recipe at this point advises leaving the chili jam to cool for 40 minutes to let the ‘bits’ settle. This seems excessive to me, since most jam recipes insist that you need to fill jars while the jam is still hot. I ended up leaving mine for about 20 minutes, giving it a quick stir, then pouring it into the jars while still very warm (a jam funnel is useful here to avoid mess).

That done, screw on the lids and go out into the garden for a while. When you come back in, tired and dirty, the jam should have cooled and the lids sealed so that the ‘button’ in the centre now lies flat.

Chili Jam Ingredients

Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need:

  • 150g fresh chilies (any variety you prefer)
  • 150g red peppers
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • 600ml cider vinegar

(Based on comments on the recipe’s webpage I reduced the cider vinegar to 500ml, and increased the chilies and peppers to closer to 200g each. But you’ll need to judge this for yourself.)


Chili Jam Uses

I managed to restrain myself all the way to lunchtime the next day before opening a jar and having a taste. It was worth the wait! Sweet, rich and warming, rather than stinging hot. The heat will depend on the variety of chili you’re using and how much pith and seeds you include, of course.

I now use this on everything. Slathered on crackers, melted into a stir fry, dotted over goat’s cheese and beetroot, smeared on burgers...there is little that this cheeky little condiment does not go with! Just the thought of it on thick-sliced toast, all on it’s own, makes me drool like Homer Simpson. I genuinely cannot think of a better use for home-grown chilies than chili jam.

If you’ve made chili jam, please feel free to drop us a comment below and tell us how you love using it. Or why not share any tips for how to make it taste even better!

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Show Comments


"150 red peppers? really?"
carol on Wednesday 22 August 2018
"Well spotted Carol - we're missing a 'g' there! 150 peppers would dilute the spiciness of the chillies just a bit too much, wouldn't it? We've fixed this error now. Thanks!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 23 August 2018
"My husband is the chilli grower, and has promised a glut for this weekend. I can see them all waiting to be cropped, and have no idea what weight awaits! I can't wait to try this. I have made sweet chilli jam with a few tomatoes before, and that is great too, even the children love that too, smeared on some steamed salmon . I have also made something called evil chilli chutney with lots of cumin (not to mention the kick) which is good for the use of a glut of mixed green and red chillis. "
Emma on Wednesday 26 September 2018
"We made this today with some of our glut. OMG it is lovely!! "
Kara on Saturday 29 September 2018
"Hope you enjoyed it Emma! Wish I could take full credit for the recipe, but it was just too good not to share. It is incredible Kara, isn't it? Last year I made six jars and they were gone in no time. This year I'll make double. There's just never enough! It's very warming when the weather turns colder."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 29 September 2018
"Making again this weekend. We have had this all over the last year as we made loads. Friends were impressed too. We've made it part of our Christmas Eve meal, cold meats, cheese, Salad, homemade chutney and this jam!! Summer all year round. "
Kara Francis on Saturday 5 October 2019
"Glad you and your friends enjoyed it Kara! I still can't get enough of it myself."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 5 October 2019
"When you speak of jam sugar are you referring to Lantic Jam and Jelly Mix? its ingredients are sugar, pectin, citric acid and dextrose. Thanks."
Arnolda Baker on Wednesday 30 October 2019
"When you speak of jam sugar are you referring to Lantic Jam and Jelly Mix? its ingredients are sugar, pectin, citric acid and dextrose. Thanks."
Arnolda Baker on Wednesday 30 October 2019
"Jam sugar is also known as 'gelling sugar' Arnolda. It's basically sugar with added pectin, and usually citric acid too I believe, so it sounds similar to the product you describe. The dextrose is probably for added sweetness, though that seems unnecessary for a product that's mainly made up of sugar!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 30 October 2019
"I grow only a couple of chilli plants, but end up with waaaay more chillies than we can use - there's a pack of home grown green chillies in the freezer dated 2017!!! I made both green and red chilli jam last year (both delicious! ) with last year's glut but can the frozen ones also be used for jam? The variety is a form of Peppadew."
Aisling on Wednesday 5 August 2020
"I'm with you on that Aisling - I have chillies from 2017 still in the freezer too! I have defrosted chillies for making jam before and it worked out fine."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 5 August 2020
"Speaking of cider vinegar - is this the same as apple vinegar?"
Vera on Wednesday 23 September 2020
"I'm not totally sure Vera - cider vinegar and apple cider vinegar are the same, but I haven't heard of it being called apple vinegar. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 23 September 2020
"Add a half a thumb of fresh ginger or galangal and 5 large cloves of garlic for a nice twist to the basic recipe :-)"
Pieter on Monday 15 November 2021
"Great suggestion Pieter - sounds like that would give it a real depth of flavour."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 16 November 2021

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