Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Chilli jam

We planted our piri-piris quite late in the year – July – and in a location where, in retrospect, it was too shaded for them later in the year so it’s taken some time for them to ripen fully. In fact it’s been a race with the frost to see who would get to them first.

There were enough red ones several weeks back to make our first small batch of chilli jam, along with a bigger batch of green chilli relish, with the last of our peppers and tomatoes: red ones for the chilli jam, green ones for the chilli relish. The chilli jam was such a success it quickly disappeared, so I was really looking forward to the opportunity to make some more. A couple of weeks ago, I got it.

But by this time our own peppers and tomatoes were long over. What to do? I could use some of our tomatoes we’d bottled, but had to buy some red peppers. It was worth it though. The first make-it-up-as-I-go-along-from-about-10-different-recipes has now been refined somewhat, and this batch is perfect!

Making chilli jam

The recipe …

  • Just over a litre of bottled tomatoes/onions/garlic (you could use passata or an equivalent amount fresh chopped tomatoes or a mixture of the two. See below for the recipe adapted for all fresh ingredients)
  • 6 large red capsicum peppers, de-seeded and chopped
  • Handful of ripe and red piri-piri chillies (roughly 25-30 or so)
  • 300ml cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • One large thick thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1kg soft light brown sugar

Liquidise everything except the sugar with half the tomatoes. Heat in pan, add sugar and bring to the boil. Add the remaining tomatoes (this is simply to give a rougher texture) and boil 40-60 minutes. Bottle in sterilised jars. Depending on the size of your jars, this will make between 8-16.

Chilli jam

The now leafless piri-piri plants that haven’t completely succumbed to frost have been uprooted and hung up in the yurt porch so the remaining chillis can ripen in a frost-free zone. Hopefully there’ll be enough for another batch. Next year I’m planting double the number on the tomato terrace …


October 2013

I’ve been making this recipe every year since. It’s the one thing I can never make enough of. In subsequent years I’ve got better at getting the tomatoes, chillies and capsicum peppers to ripen at roughly the same time, so this is the recipe adapted for all fresh ingredients. Exact quantities of tomatoes and capsicum peppers aren’t critical, but there should be a decent amount of peppers and together they should amount to between 2-3 litres once the tomatoes have softened to a pulp.

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Roughly 1½ litres chopped fresh tomatoes (no need to skin)
  • 6-8 red capsicum peppers, de-seeded and chopped
  • Handful of ripe and red piri-piri chillies (roughly 25-30 or so)
  • 300ml cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • One large thick thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1kg soft light brown sugar or rapadura sugar

Finely chop onions and soften in olive oil over heat until the onions are translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and cook over vigorous heat until the tomatoes have become pulpy, but don’t allow them to burn. Add chopped capsicum peppers, de-stalked piri-piri chillies, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Roughly liquidise. Add sugar and simmer 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced and thickened a bit. Bottle in sterilised jars.

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  1. James Hostetter December 15, 2010

    What do you eat that jam with? bread, crackers, ??

  2. Quinta do Vale December 15, 2010

    Whatever you like! It’s like a sweet chilli dipping or coating sauce, just thicker, so you can use it in any of the instances you would use a sweet chilli sauce … dip prawns or nachos in it, spread it on chicken, whatever … as well as circumstances which call for something a bit thicker. My current favourite is spread on top of cream cheese on a chunky slice of bread. Ah … now I’m going to have to go and make some …

  3. Jaime October 17, 2012

    It sounds very good..just one thing….please don’t use aluminum pots to cook this or anything for that matter…….I will try this receipt…thanks and keep on the healthy life style….Cheers Jaime

  4. Quinta do Vale October 18, 2012

    Jaime, that’s a stainless steel pot in the picture. The only thing aluminium pots get used for here is boiling water to sterilise preserving jars and bottles. Or as ovens. But thanks for making the point. It’s worth emphasising.

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