Feeling Like a Mad Scientist

I love producing something new in my kitchen, but sometimes, it’s not hard to feel a little frazzled when creating culinary delights.

Yesterday, I felt almost certifiable.

Just a few pieces of the equipment I needed.

This time last year I was Trying Something New.

With only two jars remaining from last year, the arrival of four kilograms of rosellas, fresh from the farm, was timely indeed.  But this year, I had to perfect what I started last year.  Rosella and Chilli Jam.

When I finished my last batch of (regular) Rosella Jam last year, I decided to mix it up (so to speak) and add some chilli to the pot.  The end result was a delicious, slightly bitey, jam that also doubled as a relish.  More accurately, it became a wonderful replacement for cranberry sauce and the perfect sandwich accompaniment.  I thought it took a chicken breast, cheese, tomato and rocket (arugula) sandwich to a whole new level.

What I failed to do though was record how much chilli I used.  Silly me.

So yesterday was all about experimenting and I’m pleased to say that it only took 10 minutes to get it right.

TEN MINUTES!  What am I saying?

It took three hours to remove the seeds from the calyx.  Thankfully I had done this the day before.

So all I had to do was 1) wash the seeds, 2) drain the seeds, 3) wash the calyxes, 4) drain the calyxes, 5) boil the seeds to extract the pectin, 6) drain the seeds and retain the liquid, 7) add the calyxes to this liquid to make the pulp, 8) measure the pulp, 9) add an equal quantity of sugar, 10) cook the jam, 11) sterilise the jars, and then finally, in the last ten-minute cooking window, 12) start adding the chilli and hope and pray I wasn’t adding too much.  Phew!

At this stage I carefully measured, mixed, cooked & taste-tested, constantly getting Dean’s opinion every few minutes.

I think I could have put a little more in each jar.

When we finally decided the hit (or hint) of fire was perfect, all I had to do then was to fill the jars.

I made such a mess in my kitchen and was feeling slightly frayed at the edges by the time I cleaned up.  We then enjoyed a warm fruit bun with (slightly warm) jam.

I sat looking at the next batch of rosellas thinking you can wait another 24 hours.

I even came close to putting everything away.

But rosellas were calling to me, so I decided to knuckle down and get the job done.

I can’t remember how long it took to cook the first batch, but the second batch was finished in around two hours, including bottling time.

They all sat on the kitchen bench to cool completely before I labelled them and put them away in the pantry this morning.

With rosellas available for another couple of months, I’ll be buying more.  But I think I’ll also source smaller bottles and make some gifts.

Some with chilli, some without.

At least now I know exactly how much chilli to use 🌶

This year I had purchased a portable hot plate to cook the jam because we have solar panels on our roof and using electricity during the day is (essentially) free.  I was horrified last year when I used an entire bottle of gas cooking the jam on my stovetop.  The electric hot plate was 75% of the cost of a bottle of gas.

Author: Clare

Ever-expanding one star at a time, my cosmos is a galaxy of thoughts and creativity where you can find poetry, short stories, photography and so much more.

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