Amanda & Merrill

Preserved Strawberries with Chiles

May 14, 2010

Preserved Strawberries with Chiles

- Amanda

A couple of months ago, I came across Sunchowder's Emporia strawberry guajillo jam, and fell in love. The strawberries, which retained their bright flavor, were complemented by a pleasant tingle of spice, noticeable enough to get your attention but not easy to identify. And then just last week, Merrill gave me a jar of Appledore Cove raspberry chipotle jam, which has a persistent heat and a woodsy smokiness throughout. As much as I love a good, not-too-sweet berry jam, and as much as I hate tarting up such indispensable staples, the combination of berries and chiles makes so much sense. The chiles give the berries depth, and through contrast, have a way of amplifying their presence, much like a shadow emphasizes light.

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To make my own, I decided against cooking a jam with sterilized jars and all that. Instead, I opted for a small batch, which I plan to store in the fridge and polish off over the next week. I kept the strawberries intact and cooked them slowly, which draws out their juices to flavor the syrup and concentrates the fruit, so the finished preserve is dotted with shrunken, candied strawberries suspended in the chile-infused syrup. I used one New Mexico chile, which offered up a polite amount of heat. You might want to add a second one, or even branch out into the world of anchos and guajillos.

What to do with it once it's cooked? Spread it on toast, scones or biscuits (with butter, of course), spoon it over ice cream, dab it between layers of cake, or pack it up and send it to me.

Preserved Strawberries with Chiles

Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 pound sweet, ripe strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if larger than a walnut in its shell)
  • 1 New Mexico chile (or ancho, if you prefer), or more to taste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon

1. Place the strawberries in a heavy, medium-size pot. Remove the stems and seeds from the chile (no soaking is required) and discard. Roughly chop the remaining dried chile flesh, and add it to the strawberries. Pour in the sugar.

2. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil -- as the fruit begins to juice, the sugar will melt. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook for about 1 hour. You'll want to give it a stir every 10 minutes or so -- do so gently because you want the strawberries to stay intact and essentially candy. Taste it every now and then to make sure there's enough chile heat and flavor for you -- if not, add another!

3. As the preserves cook, use a spoon to lift off any scum that rises to the surface. The preserve is ready when the strawberries are shrunken and lightly candied, and the syrup has thickened but is no t so thick that it's like jelly. (The best way to test it is to pour a little bit onto a plate and let it cool before checking the consistency.) Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat.

4. Serve on toast or scones with butter, over ice cream and on cakes or biscuits. Refrigerate any leftover preserves.


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FortWorthGuy May 31, 2010
I did this recipe over the week-end and it turned out great. Only bad thing was how little of the jam/jelly I got out of it...will be better prepared next time. Also...I used limes vs. lemons. Yum!
jael May 19, 2010
Do you think it could be frozen and then thawed before serving? I have a dinner party planned in two weeks, but strawberries now...
Amanda H. May 19, 2010
Yes -- or you could simply cook them down a bit more and they should keep in your fridge for 2 weeks.
Oui, C. May 19, 2010
Yum....each year for the holidays I make a huge batch of strawberry - raspberry preserves, I think this year I may need to shake things up and add a little ancho heat to the mix. Amanda, have you ever made a full blown preserve for canning with this recipe, one that was processed in a water bath, or included a pectin for thickening?
MrsWheelbarrow May 19, 2010
I put up three 1/2 pints last weekend, using 2.5# of berries and two ancho chiles, as that's what I had on hand. It is phenomenal with goat cheese. As strawberries have their own built-in pectin, I needed no additional for thickening, just more time to come up to 222°. I processed for ten minutes in a boiling water bath.
Amanda H. May 19, 2010
I haven't done the full canning for this recipe. No need for added pectin -- it thickens up nicely on its own, and if you want to do the full canning, sounds like MrsWheelbarrow's technique is the way to go!
WinnieAb May 18, 2010
This sounds seriously amazing! I just bought some organic strawberries on sale so you can guess what I'm making...I'm off to do so right now, in fact!
Amanda H. May 19, 2010
I'd add more chiles next time, I think. The flavor has grown more faint with time.
WinnieAb May 20, 2010
I followed exactly, but used 1 Ancho chile- I think it's sooo delicious and completely perfect. I used the jam to fill homemade "pop-tarts"- they are pretty fabulous, I think.
Oui, C. May 20, 2010
Winnie - Homemade pop-tarts? Please tell me this recipe will find its way to Food52 soon! I bet they are FABULOUS.
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Yes, I echo Oui, Chef -- would love to see your pop tart recipe!
WinnieAb May 21, 2010
I am trying to perfect the crust before I post it, but I will soon...promise!
dymnyno May 16, 2010
I love the idea of using cherries for this!! They are in the farmer's markets now, but are not as full flavored as I like...another couple of weeks and they will be fabulous...great idea!! Amanda's recipe is a great pay it forward kind.
jeneric May 16, 2010
a friend and I have declared this the summer of preserving, and made this today as our first baby steps. The preserve is so delicious and easy. We were thinking that cherries and chipotle might be a great combination to serve with a pork loin.
Amanda H. May 16, 2010
Ooh, love the idea of cherries and chipotle -- I think I'll try that too!
High H. May 16, 2010
YUM! Last night I was craving toast with butter and strawberry jam. Craving just returned full force.
eartoday May 16, 2010
If you wanted to make this using sterilized jars, would it be done the same way as usual? Also, how much crushed black pepper would be good if that was used instead of the chilies. I'm thinking all of this would be good with fresh bread and homemade ricotta....
MrsWheelbarrow May 16, 2010
When I use the crushed black pepper, it's 8-10 peppercorns for 2.5# of fruit.
Amanda H. May 16, 2010
What she said... thanks MrsWheelbarrow!
francesmary May 16, 2010
I make strawberry preserves in the microwave using 1 lb frozen or fresh strawberries but with 1 1/2 cups sugar. If using frozen strawberries, let them thaw and then add sugar, lemon juice and a little butter and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Then I cook it for a total of 15 minutes in my microwave, stopping two or three times to stir. I have been making this for many years from a Sunset magazine recipe. I see no reason why I couldn't just add the pepper to the recipe. Should be wonderful on cream cheese.
Amanda H. May 16, 2010
Very cool -- never heard of this method before. Pichet Ong, a pastry chef in New York, makes lemon curd and custards in the microwave, as well.
windysiprits May 16, 2010
yum! Made this with two ancho because I couldn't find any New Mexico chilies! Thankfully strawberries are on sale and therefore this will be a staple for the next few weeks!

Amanda H. May 16, 2010
Wow, that was fast! Thanks for giving it a try and glad to know 2 anchos worked well.
JadeTree May 16, 2010
I made this this morning while my husband and toddler went for coffee and bagels. It was a delight to make - simplest prep with big dividends of standing over it and smelling it. A great Sunday morning cooking project. Used two New Mexico chiles and it was excellent: chewy, candied berries in a spicy jelly. Certainly not too sweet.

Note: husband loved it until he got a bigger piece of the "roughly chopped" chile and then he was less enthusiastic, snarfing and hacking over it. Maybe chop a bit smaller in mercy for family new to spicy jams!
Amanda H. May 16, 2010
Yes, maybe finely chopped is better. And I used less sugar than the typical jam ratio. Glad you liked it!
Denise May 14, 2010
Your description is so wonderful. I like the idea of keeping the strawberries intact. I want some!
Amanda H. May 14, 2010
A little slicing of strawberries and some simmering, and you can have a whole batch to yourself.
FABULOUS idea!! It sounds like a wonderful flavor combination. We leave for vacation Saturday, but as soon as we get back this goes to the top of the list to make!
Amanda H. May 14, 2010
Great, and feel free to try with other chiles if you can't find New Mexico chiles.
Caron G. May 14, 2010
I just picked a couple of pounds of loquats and think I'll try this method with the chilis with them. Hope it translates!
Sunchowder May 14, 2010
It will be delicious Caron! I will be coming out with a Citrus and Pepper type jam next Florida Season. We are down to Valencia Oranges now and just a few Meyer Lemons left on my trees.
Amanda H. May 14, 2010
Caron that sounds great. And Sunchowder, look forward to the citrus and pepper. Will you be making more of the strawberry? I didn't see it on your site.
dymnyno May 14, 2010
GREAT!!! I am just now walking out the door to the farmer's market...lots of fresh strawberries there. I love the mix of sweet strawberries with peppers.
Amanda H. May 14, 2010
Great -- enjoy!
MrsWheelbarrow May 14, 2010
This looks lovely. I add black pepper to most of my strawberry jams, and imagine chilis would take that idea to a whole new level. How many jars of strawberry jam can one woman eat? So far I've got 12... I suppose another four or so wouldn't hurt. (I'll be canning.)
Amanda H. May 14, 2010
Great -- do you add the black peppercorns whole or coarsely ground?
MrsWheelbarrow May 15, 2010
I smash them with my meat pounder, of course.
Sunchowder May 14, 2010
Looks GORGEOUS Amanda! Cheers to you and thank you so much for the lovely mention.
drbabs May 14, 2010
yum....or make Merrill's bruschetta with ricotta (minus the garlic) & spread the preserves on that.
Amanda H. May 14, 2010
Ooh! THAT would be delicious.
Merrill S. May 16, 2010
Love it!