Are you looking for a spicy, seasonally-appropriate, festaholic cocktail to kick off your holiday weekend? One that quickly & easily dispatches five of the 28 pounds of celebratory strawberries you picked at the farm last week? One that is so aggressively spicy that your husband takes one sip, carefully slides the glass out of his reach and coughs, “It’s very… um… you.” Of course you are!
This preserve started out as a jam, but as the mixture of strawberries, sugar, chiles, lime & tequila sat on my counter, smelling amazing, I got an irresistible urge for a spicy strawberry margarita. So I pulled off a ladle (or two) of the macerating fruit, cut off a teeny section of habanero pepper, and tossed it all in the food processor. Salted a glass, dug a few lonely ice cubes out of the over-stuffed freezer, et voila! Instant spicy, strawberry-y, summery ‘rita.
As preserving goes, this is an easy one. I bulked up the batch size, since this would not have to set (and to forestall the inevitable depressing day when I run out of spicy strawberry margarita mix), and reduced it a little bit on the stove, but other than that, it was mostly: hull, slice, blend, can. If you’re not into canning at the moment (or ever) you can easily cut the batch in half and just stick a quart of this bad boy in your fridge; because a handy excuse to enjoy spicy strawberry margaritas all weekend long is never a bad thing.
Happy 4th, all! Here’s hoping it’s a spicy one.
- 3 cups sugar
- zest + juice of 2 limes
- ⅓ cup tequila
- 2 habanero peppers, stemmed & halved (seed chiles for less heat)
- large pinch salt
- 5 lbs strawberries, washed
- In a large jam pot or wide Dutch oven, combine sugar, lime zest & juice, habanero peppers, and salt. Hull strawberries, halving the larger ones, and toss in the sugar mixture as you go. Once you finish adding strawberries, mix well and allow to macerate while you prepare jars for canning.
- Bring strawberry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until berries are very soft, about 5 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender). Simmer another 15 minutes or so, or until slightly thickened and a deep, dark red.
- Ladle hot margarita mix into hot jars to ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow jars to rest in the hot water for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to rest until completely cool.
Yields approximately 4 pints.
- about 5 oz strawberry habanero margarita mix
- 2 oz tequila
- fresh limes, quartered
- Kosher salt, for the rim
- fresh strawberries, if available, for garnish
- For a rocks-salt version, wipe a lime section along the rim of your margarita glass, then dip the rim into a small plate coated with Kosher salt. Add ice cubes. In a cocktail shaker or Ball jar, add strawberry margarita mix and tequila. Shake vigorously. Pour over ice in the salted glass. Finish with a spritz of lime and a sliced strawberry on the rim.
- For a frozen version, add ice, margarita mix, a squeeze of lime juice and tequila to a blender and blend until ice is crushed and uniform. Pour into festaholic glasses, salted or not, and top with a strawberry.
- As mentioned, this mix is quite spicy, and seems to only gain in heat as it sits on the shelf. Seed the habaneros for less heat, or cut down to one pepper in the batch.
- The tequila isn’t absolutely necessary in the canning mix; however, it does add some tequila flavor to the berry mix, but the alcohol cooks off, so this would make for a great virgin margarita mix for friends who don’t drink.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 2 weeks.