What to CookJam/Jelly

What To Do With All The Beautiful Peppers At The Market (Make Jam!)

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This article is brought to you by our friends at Electrolux as part of an ongoing series focusing on seasonal ingredients. Today: Jam goes savory with a healthy dose of red peppers.

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 then 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.

Red Pepper Jam
Red Pepper Jam

And 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.

Down & Dirty: Bell Peppers

Down & Dirty: Bell Peppers by Nozlee Samadzadeh

Down & Dirty: Hot Peppers

Down & Dirty: Hot Peppers by Nozlee Samadzadeh


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!"

And 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.

Chop, chop, chop, swirl, swirl, swirl.
Chop, chop, chop, swirl, swirl, swirl. Photo by Bobbi Lin

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 relevant, 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 you've set to breaking them down—or do half and half
  • Add in the rest of the onion, carrot, or other vegetable 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 out half of the pepper for tomato

This is jam all dressed up and ready for any time of day—and how to serve it? Like you might any other favorite spreadable: On biscuits, grilled cheese, crackers, with pungent and/or soft cheeses. With a little bubbly or some light beer, even.

Red Pepper Jam

Red Pepper Jam

Josh Cohen Josh Cohen
Makes about 1 cup of jam
  • 4 red bell peppers, seeds and stem removed
  • 2 red Thai bird chillies, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic
Go to Recipe

What vegetables are you preserving this year? Tell us—and tell us how—in the comments below!

This article was brought to you by Electrolux, Food52's test kitchen partner. Electrolux is all about great taste and the appliances to help you make beautiful meals in your own kitchen. Learn more here.

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Vegetable, Summer, Pickle & Preserve, Ingredients