Spicy Berry Preserves

Spicy Berry Preserves: Ingredients

This sweet and spicy fruit spread takes advantage of an overabundance of berries and takes the flavor beyond basic jams and jellies. It’s related to our Plum Chutney and our Lemon Marmalade, perfect for toast, papadums, sandwiches, or whatever needs a little zing of flavor.

Spicy Berry Preserves with Papadums


  • 2-3 lemons
  • Several sprigs of mint (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups ripe fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds or 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cups sugar

Spicy Berry Preserves: lemons & mint

Peel the lemons and slice the peel into little bits. Peel or cut off any excess pith and set aside. Cut the fruit into small pieces and remove the seeds. Put the pithy pieces and mint sprigs in a jelly bag or tie them in a cheesecloth bundle. Put the bundle in a large pot with the lemon pieces, lemon peel pieces and water and bring to a boil. (Note on the mint: it will smell heavenly while cooking with the lemon, but the flavor may not be noticeable over the other spices in the end. It’s still worth putting it in just for the aroma, especially if grows like a weed in your garden.)

Cook until the peel starts to soften, about 20 minutes, and remove the bundle and put it in the cold equivalent of a double boiler: a bowl on top of a layer of ice that’s in a larger bowl. Turn the bag over every so often to help it cool down more quickly.

Spicy Berry Preserves: squeezing pectin

While the bag is cooling, add the berries, spices and sugar to the pot. We made this with cumin seeds, since we like both the texture and flavor, but the berry seeds provide plenty of texture, so ground cumin would have been just fine.

When the bag is cool enough to handle, squeeze out a few teaspoons of the cooked pulp and pith through the bag–this will provide the pectin that will help the preserve to gel.

Spicy Berry Preserves finished

Cook until the berries are softened and the preserve reaches the thickness you like, another 20 to 40 minutes. To test for thickness put a spoonful on a cold glass dish to chill. Cook longer for a thicker spread, or shorter for a dipping chutney. Spoon into a bowl and cool for serving, or follow your favorite canning procedure for longer term storage. Makes about 2 pints.