You know how I know you can't take jam with you in your carry-on luggage? Guess. I was coming back from Seattle a few years back with an incredibly divine strawberry habanero jam from Pike Place Market safely packed away when it was quickly confiscated from me at the security check point. I swear I heard the sound of the jar popping opening as soon as I was out of sight from the security agents. They totally ate my jam.
So when Asheley and I picked a small arsenal of strawberries a few weeks back from the local organic farm, I knew immediately what I was going to make. It was time to reverse the nightmares brought on from that horrific jam-conspiracy from long ago.
Full disclosure. I've never made jam before, and was super nervous that something was going to go wrong. The interruption of a roof salesman knocking at the door during the process didn't help. But you know what, making jam is all bark and no bite.
Well actually, this jam does have a bite. But a pleasant one. You get all strawberry first, then you actually taste the flavor of the habanero pepper, but then at the very tail end, at the very last moment, just a little bit of heat warms up the back of your mouth.
Processing the jam to make it shelf-stable (called canning) is optional. The jam will last a few weeks in the fridge all on its own. I decided to can them, and I could go ahead and explain every step in the canning process, but there is a really good picture tutorial from Pioneer Woman that's totally worthwhile:
Just a note: I don't have a canning pot and rack like described in the above links, so in the canning class I took last summer, the instructor said you could use any large stockpot and line the base of the pot with a couple dish towels. The towels will float in the water, but when you place the jars on them, they will sink down and it will help keep the jars from shaking around in the pot.
Another note: this recipe calls for liquid fruit pectin. There is also powdered fruit pectin. They are not interchangeable, as the process to activate the powdered variety is different than the liquid one.