Top Pick Of The Week

May 5, 2009

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Habanero Jelly

Diane’s Sweet Heat in Blackberry, Mango and Strawberry. Yes, we know the chiles shown are jalapeños, not habaneros, but on the day of the photo shoot, there were no habaneros to be found! You can see habaneros on Page 2. Photography by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE. Styling by Lauren LaPenna.

WHAT IT IS: Small batch jams made with seasonal fruit and habanero chiles.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: A number of people make good artisan jams and good artisan pepper jellies, but these are our first pepper jams.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Each flavor is a wonderful combination of fruit flavors—the featured fruit, the bell pepper and the the habanero (chiles are fruits). The well-developed recipe shows that habanero doesn’t need to have a one-note, searing effect.

Hot Stuff, Sweet Stuff: Diane’s Sweet Heat Habanero Jams

CAPSULE REPORT: We woke up on Cinco de Mayo looking forward to a breakfast with Diane’s Sweet Heat habanero* jam—Margaritas, salsa, chips and other holiday treats to come later. But any day of the year is the right day to celebrate with these sweet, hot and fruity treasures.

*Thanks to Diane for pointing out that unlike jalapeño, there is no “ñ” in habanero. It’s a very common mistake made by English speakers. The correct pronunciation is a-va-NEH-ro. The word means “from Havana.”

We’ve tried lots of clear pepper jelly (Aloha From Oregon’s pepper jellies were a Top Pick Of The Week), but these are our first chunky pepper jams, ready to be slathered on toast, biscuits, bagels (great with cream cheese), muffins, pancakes, cookies, pound cake, ice cream, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, seafood, even on breakfast eggs—eliminating the need to sprinkle on hot sauce and redefining the jelly omelet.

The ingredients are pure and simple: sugar, fruit, red bell peppers, habanero chiles, vinegar and pectin. The four-ounce jars are available in six flavors: Blackberry, Blueberry, Mango, Peach, Raspberry and Strawberry. The experience is fruity, hot and exciting. Read the full review below and add some sweet heat to your favorite foods.

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.


More Hot Stuff

Salsa Bobo Salsa Anaheim Chile
Salsa Glossary. How many types of salsa can you name (and we don’t mean peach versus mango)? See them in all our Salsa Glossary. The History Of Salsa. For sure, it didn’t start out as a dip for corn chips, although we’re glad this ended up as an option. Check out the history of salsa. Chile Glossary. Chiles are erroneously called “peppers.” Learn why, and see many different types of chiles, in our Chile Glossary.

Hot Stuff, Sweet Stuff: Diane’s Sweet Heat Habanero Jams


This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links to visit other pages.



More than 20 years ago, Diane Hunt and her best friend, Betsy were low on cash, but still wanted to give special holiday gifts to friends and family. They came across a recipe for jalapeño jelly, a variety of pepper jelly, and decided to make it as their gift. Everyone loved it, and the gift became a holiday tradition; the friends varied the chiles, berries and other fruits each year to greater and greater acclaim.

Not surprisingly, when Diane’s daughter wed two years ago, guests received jars of fruit habanero jam as a wedding favor—again, to such enthusiastic response that Diane decided to market her product.

The all-natural jams are made in small batches. In addition to the six flavors that are available year-round, Diane is planning a commemorative holiday release of Betsy and Diane’s Christmas Cranberry Habanero Jam.

Mango Habanero Jelly
Mango Habanero Jam.

Diane’s Sweet Heat is produced in McKinleyville, a small town in Humboldt County, California, in the north of the state. If Humboldt County sounds familiar, it’s where the goats who produce the milk for Cypress Grove Chevre—another Top Pick Of The Week—live. The creamery’s Humboldt Fog cheese, named for the fog that rolls in off the ocean, is one of the most famous cheeses in America.

Enjoy it with a dab of Diane’s Sweet Heat jam—perhaps the Blueberry or Raspberry. You’ll find many more uses for Diane’s Sweet Heat on Page 3.

— Karen Hochman

Continue To Page 2: Jam Varieties

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