With summer at its peak, we’re celebrating the season’s best. We’ve partnered with Food52 to bring you fresh recipes, ideas, and cooking tips for these sunny staples.
Every Saturday morning is like produce Christmas for me and my family in Brooklyn: We'll make our coffees to go, take a stroll to our local community garden, and see what's in store for the week in our regular share of community-supported agriculture (CSA) from Long Island.
When we're swimming in vegetables, fruit, eggs, and flowers, it's easy to see why August is a really good time to be a member. There are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and the like, mingling with stone fruit and the last of the berries.
When the peppers start piling up, and I've tired of every other way to use them but don't want them to go to by the seasonal wayside, I toss them into a pot on the stove and make jam.
The process for making red pepper jam is similar to that for tomatoes or squash, says our Test Kitchen Manager, Josh. His recipe uses a combination of red bell peppers and Thai bird chiles, but he also recommends branching out. "There are so many beautiful peppers in this world, people should definitely experiment,” he says.
It's true. In New York at the end of summer (and even more so in other parts of the country), the farmers market is bursting with a variety of sweet and spicy peppers that are just asking to be bottled up and saved for later. Josh suggests storing your jam in an airtight container in the fridge: It will most likely last for up to an entire month after that.
Two things to consider once you've decided to get jamming: Is there enough sugar to turn your ingredient into a jam rather than a sauce, and is there acidity to balance out the sweetness from that sugar? It's all relative, of course: If you like your jam looser, go for less sugar. If you want it to be more savory, pour in a little more vinegar.
Once you've mastered the basics, try adding additional flavors:
- Char or roast the peppers before breaking them down—or do half and half
- Add in the rest of the onion, carrot, or other vegetables hanging out in the fridge
- Bust out some fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary
- Toss in crushed fennel or cumin seeds
- Mix in za'atar and sesame seeds
- Trade half of the pepper for tomato
This is jam all dressed up and ready for any time of day, so how to serve it? Like you might any other favorite spreadable: On biscuits, grilled cheese, crackers, with pungent and/or soft cheeses. Even with a little bubbly or some light beer.