Here's nearly my entire crop of Aji Amarillo peppers turned into an amazing jam.
I wasn't sure what to do with my haul of Amarillos when I harvested them. We don't use much hot sauce around here and we've already got more than we need hogging space in the fridge. There's plenty of dried peppers in the pantry and we can't eat enough fresh salsa to take advantage of all the peppers. Then I remembered that Dave has asked on more than one occasion if we had any pepper jam - he loves it with cheese. And I've disappointed him every time with a negative answer. In my opinion baccatum peppers make some of the best pepper jam, you'll never go back to Jalapeño jam once you've tasted an Aji jam. So it finally hit me that the obvious use for this bunch of peppers was jam.
|Aji Amarillo peppers with a few stray Padrons|
I have long been a fan of Capsicum baccatum peppers. The peppers generally have a fruity and complex flavor and can range from completely sweet and mild to blazingly hot. My tastes run to the sweet to medium heat. Baccatum peppers are often simply called Aji peppers or just Ajis, they are native to Peru where Aji means pepper. So Aji Amarillo translates as Yellow Pepper.
My garden is in a climate that is actually a little marginal for baccatum peppers. Most Ajis need a long growing season and the cool summers here cause the plants to get off to a slow start, especially since I no longer bother try to get my solanaceous plants off to an early start. So I usually choose the smaller fruited and early ripening varieties.
The Aji Amarillo peppers that I'm growing this year weren't part of my initial plans, the seeds came as a freebie with my order from Artisan Seeds. But I couldn't resist growing them and I'm really happy that I did.
My plants are growing in 10 gallon pots, seen here back in June. There's two Aji Amarillo plants in the foreground and two Peppadew plants beyond.
Baccatum peppers can overwinter in my garden if given a little protection which is why I decided to grow them in pots. When the weather starts to turn cold I'll move the pots to a protected spot and hope they survive.
This strain of Aji Amarillo is a little different from what is typically called Aji Amarillo in Peru, they aren't as large and they don't turn a deep orange, although the flavor is supposed to be the same. When I went back to the Artisan Seeds website today I found that they are now offering the larger pepper and have dubbed it Aji Amarillo Grande and renamed the one that I'm growing Baby Aji Amarillo. Whatever, this pepper is delicious and it made an addictive jam. I'm sure it would make a fabulous pepper sauce too, it you don't want your sauce too hot. I was a little surprised at how mild these turned out to be, but pleasantly so, I just can't do really hot peppers these days.
I've updated my pepper jam recipe on my recipe blog for this batch of jam. I didn't have enough peppers to make a batch of jam using the typical packet of pectin such as Sure-Jell so I adapted the recipe to use Pomona's Universal Pectin. Pomona's comes with two packets in the box, one of pectin and the other with calcium powder. The product makes it possible to make just about any size batch of jam from tiny to triple sized, you just have to figure out how much pectin and calcium to use. It also allows for very low sugar jams and jellies. And it keeps seemingly forever, my box has been in the pantry for a few years now.