Three, two, one, let’s jam!
Today, I’ve got a jazzy little duo from Single Variety Co. – Makers of simple, straight-forward jams that use only a single fruit. Or, in this case, chilli.
In fact, our new, limited edition pair only have a single pepper between them – The habanero – and are intended to showcase the difference between two of its distinct strains. One made with the most common, orange variety and the other with the richer, darker and more earthy – Yet not in the least bit cocoa-y – “chocolate” colouration. A glossy brown version with rather more heat than most.
You can find a little bit more about these peppers on my encyclopedia pages but, today, I’m going to see what they do to jam and just how much difference the colour of the pepper truly makes to a product. Because these two are, in fact, the exact same recipe.
Sugar, [colour] habanero chillies, cider vinegar, natural pectin.
With twenty-five grams of chilli and fifty-four of sugar going into every hundred grams. And, just like their ingredients, their packaging is also practically identical.
A hollow, white box holds the company name, while the product’s is cut from a bolder rectangle, below. Overlapped, at its bottom right corner, by a small “LIMITED EDITION” label. And then, at the very bottom, the words “SUPER HOT” with a single chilli silhouette.
There’s nothing special here and nothing too artistic but what we do get from Single Variety’s labels is a tonne of empty space. Empty space which would be a problem, were it less transparent, but here serves as the solution to their lack of visual information. Allowing the colour of the jam, itself, to shine through and do the talking.
The dark, fig-like, reddish brown looking especially sinister against the bright, marmalade-esque orange of its counterpart.
In both cases, we see the true colour of the chilli, the fine shreds of its flesh and a whole load of suspended seeds, through the labelling. The last of which strongly hints at the thick texture within. Yet we don’t get the full picture until we crack ’em both open and I take my customary spoonfuls:
These jams are firm and well-set, sticking to my spoons so much that it’s hard to get them anything other than piled high. Though I did still manage to spill a drop of the chocolate (coloured) chilli, just because of how massively overloaded its spoon ended up.
Perhaps more interesting than the consistency, however, is that the jams, themselves, are close to clear. Merely picking up the appearance of bold colours as they disperse the light which bounces off of the pepper shreds within.
And, if the body of the jam is so clear and thin, perhaps that explains why the orange habanero jam smells so light and tangy, with subtle notes of mango, aged apple and green plant. Rather than being as pepper forward as I was anticipating.
But the chocolate (coloured), despite also having quite the gentle aroma, does smell of heat, dark, rich earthiness and a touch of something floral. Much as I’ve come to expect from its chilli.
In both cases, the aroma carries over to the product’s taste. Yet the flavours are a good deal stronger than the scents and notes which were subtle on the nose are now considerably less so. Like the cider vinegar in the orange variety.
The aged apple in that orange habanero jam blends with the fruity chilli, in order to create a strong, lemon-like top note before fading into a remarkably fresh and mango-like, tropical taste from the chilli. There’s enough of an acidity and peppery finish to make me think twice about any sweeter applications but, as a glaze for white fish – Perhaps as a twist on my old ginger haddock recipe – it’s going to be delicious. And heck, it’ll probably make a great thai dip, too, if you can thin it out.
Just do be aware that it holds quite a considerable
throat heat, along with an all round warmth, once its sugars leave the mouth. This is a very pure chilli jam.
And, while its greater focus on the tongue means that the chocolate (coloured) variety doesn’t make me hiccup in the same way, it’s actually even more potent. Packing a high
heat, the likes of which few non-superhot peppers are even capable of.
So, once again, the taste is almost all pepper, yet far from your standard red chilli taste. And it’s quite a way away from what I was expecting, too.
That dark, rich, earthy scent is the norm, for chocolate habaneros, and the corresponding flavour does dominate this jam. Masking all of the cider vinegar which made the orange variety so citrussy. And yet, despite that, it still tastes of fruit.
Dark, dried fruit, very similar to dates. Only with a more savoury finish and floral aftertaste, to make it clear that it all still comes from the chilli.
Perhaps I’ve simply never had them sweetened but I’ve never had this flavour from chocolate peppers before. And I rather like it.
It’s going to make a gorgeous glaze for a wide assortment of meats and a little bit will go a long way, fried into rice, as well.
Single Variety Co. has done a great job with both of these limited edition jams. So get them quick, if you’re interested.