The capsicums are a large family of vegetables that includes bell peppers and their chile pepper cousins of many sizes, flavors, and colors. At the turn of the season from summer to fall, mirroring the change in foliage elsewhere in the
landscape, they transmogrify to vivid hues from yellow/oranges to bright reds. Mild bells and spicy chilies–the not-biting Anaheims to zingy cayennes, arbols, jalapenos, and searing habaneros, all suddenly show up in bold autumn dress. It’s quite a phenomenon!
The red capsicums in particular mix beautifully with each other in a marmalade, slightly sugar-sweetened and vinegar-tarted, with just a touch of heat. It makes a fine condiment for meat dishes, topping for ice cream, or slather for bagels and cream cheese. A version of this recipe appears in Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors, co-authored with Susanna Hoffman (Workman, January 2014), where we have it paired with a pork loin roast.
A Cooking Note: The recipe can be multiplied if you’d like to make a big batch for holiday entertaining and gift giving. The timing will have to be adjusted depending on the quantity.
A Taste Note: Cumin seeds can replace the caraway to take the marmalade in an Indian, more chutney-like, direction.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
3 medium red bell and/or Anaheim chile peppers, stemmed, quartered, inner membranes cut away, and peppers thinly sliced
1 to 2 small fresh red chili peppers, stemmed, halved, and thinly sliced
1 small yellow or white onion or 2 large shallots, halved and very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/ 3 cup granulated sugar
1/ 4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/ 2 cups apple juice
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, stir to mix, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thickened and almost candy-like but still liquid, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Use right away, or cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.