Inspiration can sometimes come at you at the strangest times and from unexpected sources. Well, in this case, maybe not so wholly unexpected, but it certainly stuck and I couldn’t shake it until I did something about it. I got the idea for this jam from a beautiful Valentine’s Day flower arrangement by Blumin- From our Garden to You, made up of red roses, blackberries and chillies. I absolutely loved the arrangement and I knew I wanted to make something sweet with all three ingredients. Not only do they look beautiful together but they’d taste divine too. I lay awake at night thinking about it.
I love exotic jams. Well, I love jams, without fear or favour. I’m quite partial to a good blackberry jam and nothing says ladylike like a floral rose jam, does it? I think evidence suggests it’s also safe to assume that I love my chilli jam. Goes without saying. It just seemed natural to combine all three. This jam is, indeed, very pretty with a deep red purple colouring, the subtle perfume of roses and, depending on which chilli and how much you use, a lovely warmth that lingers on the palate. It’s not meant to be a hot jam, as too much chilli would simply overpower the other ingredients. Blackberries and roses are from the same plant family … pretty, perfumed, and delicious but also rather prickly with all that thorny action going on. Adding a little spice with the chilli just seems to be in the right spirit. A bit like forgetting to remove that last little thorn …
This jam is lovely on toast but would be fabulous on fresh scones or as a filling for mini tarts or macarons.
I originally wanted to make the jam while fresh blackberries were at their peak in summer and the perfumed red roses in my garden were at their best. Unfortunately, my chillies didn’t fare so well this year and are only now producing in abundance, in Autumn. If you do use fresh rose petals, make sure you use only un-sprayed roses. I used frozen blackberries and fortunately, we are lucky to have some beautiful frozen berries available. Instead of fresh rose petals, I used dried rose petals. If using fresh, the amount you will need for the jam will be different by volume to what is included in the recipe below. I have to admit, I extremely happy with the dried rose petals as their perfume and flavour is more intense. I also used a cayenne chilli in this recipe and that’s about as hot a chilli as I would use for this jam. Use it sparingly, and if cayenne is too hot for you, try using birds eye chillies or maybe jalapeños instead.
Lovely luscious berry fruit, a hint of rose, and a little warmth at the end. Makes a nice gift.
No-one will expect the chilli.
I like the unexpected.
Makes 2 jars
500 grams blackberries, fresh or frozen
350 grams sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
2 tablespoons rosewater
1/3 cup dried rose petals
1 – 2 chillies, finely chopped (use 2 only if very mild or very small)
Place the blackberries, sugar, and lemon or lime juice into a heavy based saucepan. If using frozen berries, there is no need to thaw them before making the jam. There will be more moisture though so it will take a little longer to evaporate as the jam cooks.
Mix the berries, sugar and juice well and place over a low heat to cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the rosewater, rose petals, and chilli. Raise heat to medium then allow to simmer until the berries start to break down and the jam thickens. It is ready when you drop a little of the jam on to a clean plate and swipe through it with your finger and it leaves a clear path without the jam “flowing” back together.
Pour into clean jars and seal. Allow to cool down a little until the jars are just warm to the touch and process in a water bath for 45 – 60 minutes. Allow to cool. Label and store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate once opened. Unopened jars will keep for at least a year. Unless you use it all first!
I’ve made two batches of this jam to date. The first time I made it reasonably thick, as in the photo below, as I planned to use it as a filling for macarons. I made the second batch a little less thick so that it was more easily spreadable for toast and could be dolloped on to scones.