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Monday, December 12, 2011

A new adventure with Tomatillo Jalapeño Jam

I got the most wonderful gift from a dear friend when we hosted a fall gathering of friends at our home right before Halloween. She brought me a paper lunch sack loaded with jalapeños from her garden.


As I stood there and stared at these beautiful gems I wondered what on earth I would do with them all.  Then it struck me that I could make jalapeño jelly.  So then the search began for a recipe.  The search was pretty short.  I scanned the internet and then realized I had a cookbook in my possession that may have just what I was looking for.  And it did.  More on that in a moment.

I also had to wrap my mind around the idea of canning.  It was a thing that struck fear into my heart.  I don’t know why as I have watched my mother successfully can everything from peach preserves to pear halves my whole life.  Even still, it always seemed to be this mystical magical thing that only women who survived the depression and the dust bowl should know how to successfully accomplish.

I mean, what if I don’t do it right and everyone gets food poisoning?

But, I decided to put on my big girl panties and give it a try.

The recipe I found came from Lisa Fain’s new The Homesick Texan cookbook.  I have followed Lisa on Twitter for quite some time and have always enjoyed her blog.  So when I found out she was coming to the Le Creuset store in Dallas to sign her new cookbook, I absolutely had to take the opportunity to go and meet her in person.  (Missing a World Series game in the process, y’all.)

IMG_1030And I’ll tell y’all, she is just as precious in person as she seems in her book and on her blog.  And her grandma, the one she talks about in the book and whose hands are pictured in it… she was there.  I spent several minutes talking to her and she reminded me ever so much of my Nana. 

All that to say that if you have a cook in your life, her cookbook, The Homesick Texan, is a perfect gift.  Or a Le Creuset dutch oven would work nicely also. (Especially since I scored one for 40% off that night and handed it to my hubby and said, “Merry Christmas to me!”  He may or may not have rolled his eyes.)

In her book is a recipe for Tomatillo Jalapeño Jam.  I really liked the idea of using tomatillos and the addition of some additional spices like clove and allspice to this jam really got my attention.

Since I was trying to make enough for some Christmas gifts, I multiplied the recipe a couple of times and learned a very valuable lesson in the process.  You CAN multiply a jam recipe too many times.  I think I had too much liquid and therefore it initially did not set up properly.  But I cooked it just a tad bit more the next day and added just a little bit of unflavored gelatin and that did the trick. 

And you know what?  The canning part of the whole thing was not a huge deal.  In fact, it was kind of fun to boil the jars, remove them from the water and wait to hear the pop of the lid sealing.  I don’t know how it happens, but it does, and it’s as cool as all get out to tap the top of that jar and hear it go, “PING.” 


So now I have some awfully good tasting gifts to give for Christmas.  I think two jars will go to the kids’ teachers and the others to my cousins. 

So, if you’re still reading this and are interested, here is the recipe (used with Lisa’s permission):

Tomatillo Jalapeño Jam
copyright 2011 The Homesick Texan Cookbook, page 36

Yield: 1 pint

1/2 pound tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeds and stems removed, finely diced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest

Special Equipment:
1 pint-size jar or 2 half-pint-size jars
(I recommend the latter)

1.  Sterilize the jars and lids in either a pot of boiling water or dishwasher.

2.  In a pot, add the tomatillos, jalapeño, vinegar, sugar, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, lime juice, lime zest and 1/2 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a low simmer, stirring often, for 45 minutes or until it’s thick and syrupy.

3.  Pour the jam into the jars, then cover with the lids and fasten with the ring.  Let it cool and then refrigerate.  The jam will become more solid after a few hours in the refrigerator and will last for a month, refrigerated.


{Side note: For those of you who are like myself and love to use a thermometer for things like this, I did some research in my On Food and Cooking book and found that the temperature should reach 217°-221° F “which indicates that the sugar concentration has reached 65%”.  The author, Harold McGee, also suggests that “a fresher flavor results when this cooking is done at a gentle simmer in a wide pot with a large surface area for evaporation.” Page 297.}



Beckypdj said...

I was talking to someone a few days ago about canning. I've done it and was a little afraid the whole time. It must be the memories of my grandmother telling all us grandkids to "Stay away from that pressure cooker!!" It is a feeling of accomplishment when you see those jars lined up.

Le Creuset for 40% off?!?! I've been wanting one for several years, but haven't taken the plunge. They are beautiful and so many colors to choose from.

Glad your jelly making was a success!!

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

Thanks, Becky. On the Le Creuset - They had it for 40% off for the book signing event. It was physically impossible for me to pass it up. But I'll tell you what, keep an eye out at places like Marshalls, Ross and Tuesday Morning. They often have Le Creuset pieces for less than full price retail. And they also carry similar brands like Cuisinart which are very similar in quality but without as much of a price tag. These pots are so versitile and so worth the investment. I may start a collection of many different colors and add it to my kitchen decor somehow!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Donna, the jam does make great gifts and I'm so glad you got it to set up. Hurrah for canning success! And it was such a pleasure getting to finally meet you. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!