Thursday, October 11, 2012

Strawberry Guajillo Chile Jam

James Villas' Maw-Maw's biscuits from Southern Biscuits.

I decided to make jam after Willie went in to the kitchen and started pulling out ingredients late one evening, around 8 p.m.

Me: What are you up to?
Willie: I'm baking bread.
Me: It's 8 p.m.
Willie: Yes.
Willie: So what are you going to do?
Me: Well, I guess I'll make jam to go with your bread!
Willie: At 8 p.m.?
Me: Sure, why not.
Willie: Have you ever made jam?
Me: No.
Willie: Do you have all the ingredients?
Me: No.
Willie: Ok, text me the ingredients you need while I drive to the store, I'll be back in a few.
Me: Bye, love you.
Willie: Love you.

This is always how it is at our house. Willie has been known to go to the store several times a day and to several stores at a time to find ingredients. He's a peach. He actually hates peaches but still, he's a peach. After he got home from the store, an entirely new scintillating conversation commenced.

Willie: Oops, I don't have bread flour. Do you know how to make it?
Me: Yes, of course! For every cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons of flour and replace with two tablespoons of cornstarch! Joy the Baker taught me this!
Willie: Are you 100% sure?
Me: Willie, JOY taught me. Duh.
Me: Ok, I'll look it up but I KNOW that's right. 100%.
Willie: I'm mixing it up right now.
Me: Ya, ok. I'm googling.
Willie: (Measuring sounds abound.)
Me: Um.Uh. Oopsie!
Me: Well, that recipe I gave you is for CAKE flour.
Willie: Ok, you have 5 cup of cake flour then.
Me: Ok.

Well, Willie ended up using AP flour for his bread and it was fantastic. And I didn't feel like making the jam and so I made it the next day. The bread was still very good and fresh event though it was day-old bread. And the jam was wonderful. Not the kind of spicy that stings the tongue like you might expect. No, more of a warmth in your mouth that feels really good. And warm. You'll have to try it, I don't think I can do any better at explaining that that.

Strawberry Guajillo Chile Jam
by Sandra Simmons

1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 dried Marx Foods Dried Guajillo Chile, stem and membrane removed and discarded, leave all the seeds in (The chile will not make the jam spicy, it will just leave a nice warmth in your mouth.)
the juice from 1/4 of a lemon

Get out a deep, saucepan that is about triple the size of your strawberries. Jam can easily triple in volume while cooking, just wait and you'll see what I'm talking about! Place the strawberries and the sugar in the saucepan and stir. Add the chilies, stir again. Add the lemon juice and stir one last time. Let the mixture sit on the counter for 4-12 hours. I let mine sit about 10 hours. I'd planned on only 6 but then I had an offer of lunch from Willie and no way was I turning that down! You can stir during the time your mixture is sitting or not, it's up to you.

Put the saucepan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium-low or whatever temperature will sustain a simmer. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer for about 40 minutes.

My foodie friend Maurita has a great test for when the jam is done and she calls it a wrinkle test. I think she was offended when I posted on my Facebook status that Maurita's wrinkle test was amazing! Haha! I guess no one wants the word "wrinkle" next to their name? Well, the test is amazing. Here is what you do. Put a small plate in the freezer at some point early in the cooking process. When you think the jam is thickened and fully cooked, take the plate out of the freezer and put a little jam on the plate and return it to the freezer for a minute. Take it back out of the freezer and push on it from the side. If the jam has a wrinkle in it when pushed, it's done! If it's runny or there's no wrinkle, keep cooking in 5 minute increments until you get the wrinkle. All of these tips are posted on Maurita's blog post "How to Make Jam with Strawberries".

Put the hot jam in clean jars. I used 8-ounce Ball jars like these and it filled two. Just perfect for us. I use plastic lids because I just store my jam in the fridge and use it in up to 3 weeks so there is no need for processing them further. Plus, I have no idea how to do that! I guess canning will be next on my to-do list!

This is the bread Willie made. It was delicious!

(I read every strawberry jam recipe I could find in my cookbooks and on the Internet. I got the most advice from this post by Maurita Plouff who is a friend of mine and has posted here and here as a Friend of 37 Cooks.)

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