Strawberry Chipotle Jam

It’s officially strawberry season in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our farmers markets are full of fresh ruby-hued orbs and strawberry desserts adorn local restaurant dessert menus. This time of year my family can’t seem to eat enough berries to satisfy; trips to the strawberry farm are part of daily chatter.

There are plenty of U-Pick Farms available here in Western North Carolina. You can find listings here and here.

What to do with all these fresh strawberries?

You could make Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake, Mixed Berry Crostata, Strawberry Basil Italian Ice, Strawberry Cornmeal Shortcakes… or you could always make JAM!

Whenever I prepare something with clean simple flavors like strawberry jam, I like to include a special ingredient to add a dose of intrigue! Chipotle peppers do the trick  in this case. The fiery depth of the Chipotle peppers balance the sugar and acidity of the strawberries for a sweet and SPICY can’t-stop-eating-this effect. Strawberry Chipotle Jam is a wonderful addition to a cheese board, a brilliant topping for proteins, and sublime slathered on fresh warm bread.

Jam-making is an easy undertaking; although some consider it a painstaking science. The things you must consider are acidity (usually lemon juice), amount and sweetener, amount of liquid, and most importantly pectin.

Pectin is a natural fiber found in fruit. It is a wonderful thickening agent, but diminishes as the fruit ripens. Various fruits have considerably more pectin than others; apples ranking with the highest levels of pectin and berries with some of the lowest levels.

Preservers often argue over the addition of powdered pectin. Some believe that since berries have low levels of natural pectin, store-bought powder should be added for jam to reach the proper gel consistency. If you are a kitchen-nerd like me, you may have checked out some canning and preserve forums on this subject. It’s quite entertaining to read through the scrabble. Harsh and alarming terms such as “humbug” and “pish-posh” are colorfully added in these grannies’ ardent debate. I’ve summed up their points for you:

Pro Pectin: You can make preserves much quicker, because the preserves take very little time to gel. Since you cook the fruit for less time, it retains a fresher flavor and more of it’s natural health benefits. Adding powdered pectin is also thought to produce a larger quantity of preserve, because you aren’t boiling away the liquid through a long cooking process.

Anti Pectin: Fruit naturally produces pectin, so why add a man-made version? Why PAY for something you don’t need? Even fruits that don’t produce quite enough pectin on their own can be thickened by adding other fruits that have more (like tart apples). Also, fruit that hasn’t ripened can be added to the preserve, because it has a larger amount of natural pectin.

The verdict? I’ve made jam both ways–it’s a toss-up. Generally I try to prepare ALL my dishes with as little processed ingredients as possible. But when making jam, I usually have a package of pectin on hand. That way, if it doesn’t gel properly, I have a backup plan.

This Strawberry Chipotle Jam recipe is made without pectin, but I added a handful of unripened berries to the mix for their thickening benefits.


Test the jam’s gel by placing a small amount on a frozen surface.  If it gels up within a few moments, it’s ready. Otherwise allow it to simmer a little longer.

To alter the batch size, follow the general rule of: 1 cup mashed berries + 1 cup sugar + 1 Tb. lemon juice.

If adding pectin, remember it has a slight aftertaste, so read the package instructions and remember “less-is-more.”

I’ve used canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for convenience. If using dried peppers, reconstitute them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then mince.

For tips on proper canning techniques click here.

To Prepare:

In a saucepan, combine the lemon zest, juice, sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

Add all the berries and minced chipotle peppers to the pan. Bring to a low boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.


Yield: 3-4 6 oz. jars (Depending on how long it simmers)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10-40 minutes

Strawberry Chipotle Jam


1 quart strawberries (about 1 ½ lbs.) Try to select 1 cup of slightly-unripe berries
1 large juicy lemon, zested and juiced
3 cups sugar
2-3 chipotle peppers, minced (canned)
¼ tsp. salt


Chop half of the berries into small pieces and smash the rest of the berries. You should have approximately 3 cups—a little extra is ok.

In a saucepan combine the lemon zest, juice, sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

Add all the berries and minced chipotle peppers to the pan. Bring to a low boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Then, check the gel consistency by placing a small amount on a frozen surface. Run your fingers through it. If it separates and is not runny, remove the jam from heat. If it is still runny, simmer another 5-10 minutes and check again. The jam could take 10-40 minutes to gel properly.

Place the hot jam in sterilized jars. Either seal in a hot water bath (according to proper canning technique) or refrigerate immediately.

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91 Responses to “Strawberry Chipotle Jam”

  1. #
    daksha — May 14, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    strwberry, spice and jam? sound intres………Definitely a must try! Looks so appealing!


  2. #
    Pachecopatty — May 14, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    Oh Sommer, the color red is just singing here and I love it;-). This post is making me very happy and I do love your recipe;-)


  3. #
    Sommer J — May 14, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    Fantastic!!!! I’ve been pondering ways to get my son to eat berries….this is perfection! Best PB & J evah! Amazing photos as well! Makes me want to visit the husband’s fam in NC pronto….not only for the strawberries either ;)


  4. #
    briarrose — May 14, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    Wonderful pics. :)

    Mmm….delicious chipotle added in. Best jam ever!


  5. #
    michelle — May 14, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

    Fantastic combination! Can’t wait to try this


  6. #
    foodlvr — May 14, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    Our local farms will have a Festival on June 6. I can’t wait. I am also going to go pick at the U-Pick farm this year. I was thinking of making something similar. I love chile jam and jelly. I was thinking Strawberry Salsa too. I once bought a jar years ago.

    I can almost taste it right through the computer monitor.


  7. #
    Sook — May 15, 2011 @ 12:03 am

    Oh how wonderful! I love strawberries and I am always looking for ideas to use strawberries! This jam sounds amazing!


  8. #
    blackbookkitchendiaries — May 15, 2011 @ 1:12 am

    wow! this look so heavenly! thank you for sharing this with us.


  9. #
    Claudia — May 15, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    Jumping through my skin waiting for strawberry season. Enough with the apples and oranges – bring on the berries. I love the added heat in this. It would be so grand with some cheese or spread over a pork loin.


  10. #
    Sabrina@loulousucre — May 15, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    I cannot wait to try this. I love your blog, and your pictures are so beautiful!! Thanks for following on twitter.


  11. #
    Eileen — May 15, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    I love the sounds of kicking stawberry jam up a notch by adding chipolte. YUM… I’m waiting for the fresh fruits so I can start jammin since I just opened the very last jar I had on hand! Love the your photo’s too. Be-u-tiful….


  12. #
    Reese&Mark@SeasonWithSpice — May 15, 2011 @ 8:54 am

    Hi Sommer,

    These pictures are painful to look at…painful because they are so delicious and I can’t get fresh strawberries in Penang! I am going to send this recipe to my mom in Minnesota, and ask her to mail me a jar. Love how you incorporate a spice into the jam. We need to experiment more with flavors in the US. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.


  13. #
    Hester aka The Chef Doc — May 15, 2011 @ 10:00 am

    Oh, what a lovely idea! The combination of flavors sounds fantastic!


  14. #
    April — May 15, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    Your jam looks so fresh and delicious I can almost smell it.
    I am deffinately making some!


  15. #
    Kristi Rimkus — May 16, 2011 @ 7:55 am

    My mom used to take us strawberry and raspberry picking all the time. We loved it. Looks like your kids did too. Love the addition of chipotle. Very nice.



  16. #
    Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels — May 17, 2011 @ 5:04 am

    I love making homemade jam and yours look soooo good! Love the idea of adding chipotle peppers to the jam. :)


  17. #
    Meghan — May 17, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    Fabulous idea! Strawberry and chipotle = Love! Can’t wait to try this


  18. #

    We’re in the middle of strawberry picking time too. I’m loving it. The jam would be so good with some Brie, wouldn’t it. I think I’ll have to give it a go. I’m sure some would say pish-posh to something other than standard strawberry jam, but I love the idea. :)


  19. #
    Steve @ HPD — May 25, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    Great combo!


  20. #
    Merideth Ray — May 29, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the great recipe. My family had a big day of making my grandmother’s strawberry freezer jam. I made an additional batch with peppers! What a great way to reinvent an old standard.


  21. #
    Natascha Kessler - Heaven on Hearth — June 2, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    This is a great idea. I was planning on making a jam next week. I guess I now know what I will be doing. Thanks for the idea.


  22. #
    Mei — June 11, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    Your Strawberry Jam looks so yummy! Makes me want to make some now, I used to make my own Stella Orange Marmalade. I love Stella orange, they make lovely jam. I’m diabetic now, lost the interest to make jam, hubby take over the jam making last few years, so I can still have a little bit of jam with my peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. He use half and half reduced sugar, I will have a go with yours they look delicious and the pics are beautiful! Hope you’re keep well. Love your new site. Mei


  23. #
    Lindy@Itsy Bitsy Paper — June 17, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

    I just featured this recipe on Fun Friday Finds on my blog. I’d love for you to stop by.


  24. #
    jacque benson — August 1, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    This looks so delicious and beautiful too! I was going to be making Strawberry Jalapeno Jam today, but I think you just changed my mind! Thanks Sommer!


  25. #
    Carol — December 12, 2011 @ 11:33 am

    Even with winter berries this jam is delicious! Perfect foil for the heat of the chipotle and the smokiness of the adobo. I made a batch this past weekend. I definitely will be making a lot of this jam this coming summer when the local berries are available. Thanks so much for posting.


  26. #
    susan — May 19, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    I just saw this post. I am sooo going to make this for my brother-in-law for Father’s Day; this and a fresh loaf of french bread. Thanks for the inspiration.


  27. #
    Melanie — May 20, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    I found your website on Ree Drummonds website! I’m literally sitting in the Social Security Administration…drooling!!! I cannot wait to try some of your recipes… Over the weekend I stopped by a You Pick Farm inquiring when strawberries wound be ready. I cannot wait to can this spicy sweet goodness on a jar!
    Glad I found you….



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