Honest Fare

Pretty Provisions and Notes from the Kitchen

Strawberry Serrano Pepper Preserves

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Strawberry Serrano Pepper Preserves, Honest Fare by Gabrielle Arnold

Strawberry season is upon us! It’s hard to pass up the old 3 for $6 special at the market these days…so I didn’t. My plan was to make a bangin’ strawberry preserve that was primarily sweet, but with just enough heat to warm your lips at the end. Done and done. Something sweet. Something spicy. Can’t really argue with that!

I debated between using jalapeño peppers or serrano peppers, but I went with serrano purely because strawberry serrano sang nicer than strawberry jalapeño. The serrano is a type of chili pepper that’s actually notably hotter than the jalapeño. I say, the hotter the better. But don’t be scared, it’s not that crazy, tongue on fire, drink a glass of milk after kind of hot. Not in the amount we’re using here anyway. I’ve made this recipe using varying amounts of serrano pepper to find the level of heat I like best – the recipe I’m giving you is like a 6 on a 1-10 heat index.

It’s really simple to do to. First, cut the peppers lengthwise and remove about 80% of the seeds (yes, 80%) and dice them up into little bits. Then you can hull and cut the strawberries into med-sized pieces and simmer them with lemon juice until a lot of the liquid cooks out (about 25-30 mins). The sugar and peppers are added in during the last few minutes of the cooking process. Oh yeah, pepper gas warning!! Depending on the amount of peppers you use, the steam released during cooking might make you cough…uncontrollably. That’s why you should add the peppers toward the end. It’s no big deal, just something to be aware of. Open a window and you’ll be fine.

Look what I found!

Most of the jams and preserves you buy in the store contain pectin, which is used as a thickening agent. It’s tasteless and you can totally use it if you’re accustomed to doing so. I don’t use it in this recipe – simmering to cook out the moisture seems to do the trick. Cornstarch is another option if you’d like your preserves to be closer to that jam-like consistency. I have used cornstarch in this recipe and was pleased with the results. Just mix a teaspoon or two with equal parts of warm water in a separate bowl and then add it in to the pot while simmering. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Works great, but don’t overdo it.

This stuff is especially fantastic with cheese! Do it up with some goat cheese or queso blanco on toast or crackers. Even a mild cheddar is nice. Anything mild and creamy (cream cheese!) will work. A peanut butter and strawberry serrano sandwich is pretty amazing too!

I want to also mention the linen photographed throughout this post. It comes from Transylvania Images , a textile company that makes kitchen linens and towels, bags and upholstery using vintage grain sacks and organic hemp. They were nice enough to send me a couple beautiful samples! Their pieces are woven on authentic hand-looms by villagers like these in Transylvania…

Check out their collection!
Transylvania Images

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Cook time: 30 minutes. Makes about 2 cups. Lasts about 2 months stored in airtight containers in fridge. Increase or decrease serrano peppers to your liking. The addition of cornstarch (or pectin) may be used during cooking to thicken even further.

You need:

  • 2 lbs. Strawberries
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Cornstarch or pectin (optional for additional thickening)
  • 2 and a half serrano peppers (most seeds removed)


  1. Wash and hull strawberries and cut into pieces. Wash peppers and cut lengthwise to remove about 85% of seeds before dicing.
  2. Cook strawberries and lemon juice in a saucepan or shallow pot over low heat for about 30 minutes. Add sugar and increase heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes minutes.
  3. Optional step: For additional thickening, you can add 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch to equal parts warm water in a separate bowl and add to pot. It will continue to thicken when it cools.
  4. Add in peppers and few seeds, stir in and cook for another 2 mins before removing pot from heat. Let cool completely and remove any foam from surface before storing in airtight containers or jars.



  1. Posted May 8, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    Oh, that strawberry heart so makes me smile.

  2. Posted May 8, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Looks great! I just bought a cranberry-jalapeño jam at the market this weekend; it’s so good. I’ve been spreading it on leftover waffles that were toasted back to life.

    Thanks for this recipe. I’ll have to try it when my jar of jam is empty.

  3. Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

    This sounds absolutely amazing! I love jam + cheese – looks like this would be the perfect jam! Lovely photos, btw. :)

  4. Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

    My husband and I are big fans of pepper jelly. I will have to try and make this! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful photography, too. xo.

  5. Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    Love the combo of spicy and sweet! The preserves look delicious.

  6. Suzanne
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 6:24 AM | Permalink

    I will be making this tonight for my Sister’s Housewarming Open House this weekend. :) She LOVES peppers and fruit!

  7. Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    That soup o’ simmerin’ strawberries looks delectable. When I see the first strawberries pop up at the market it puts a real smile on my face.

  8. Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

    This sounds delicious. We are celebrating Mother’s Day with a Mexican Fiesta. I am going to make this and serve it along some cheeses for an appetizer.

  9. Sarah
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    I just made this and it’s delicious!! Thanks for the great recipe. This is something a little different that I look forward to bringing to get togethers with friends.

  10. Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    I really love this. I love how it sounds and I can honestly taste it in my imagination. :) And I love jam on cheese and toast. The best way to eat it!

  11. janelle
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Permalink


  12. Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:11 AM | Permalink

    Just bought the ingredients! I’ll be making this recipe over the weekend!

  13. Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    So excited about this recipe! I have been wanting to make my first strawberry preserves this summer and this is the recipe!



  14. Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Such a good combination!! Sounds amazing

  15. Posted June 5, 2012 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    I really love Serrano peppers, they are just a bit hotter than jalapenos but I think that they can add a lot more in prepared dishes as a marinade and this combination of spicy sweet sounds great.

  16. Posted June 9, 2012 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    This sounds fabulous and it is a great way to use the strawberries that are coming to market. This is my first visit to your site, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  17. Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    This sounds amazing and I love the combo of sweet and savory. I just brought back a sweet tomato jam with vanilla, and this post reminded me that I need to try it soon!

  18. Posted June 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    This sounds so scrumptious, especially with a sharp cheese on crusty bread … yum. Thank you so much!

  19. Megan
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 7:05 PM | Permalink

    Did anyone else have a problem with the strawberry mixture burning in the pan? I’m making it now and the bottom of my pan is completely black! What did I do wrong? I had it at low heat? Other than that I can’t wait to try it :)

  20. Lisa
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    How long can this be kept in the fridge,before spoiling?

  21. gabi
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    If you seal the jar using a canning method, it’ll stay good for a year. Once opened though, I recommend keeping it in an airtight container and it should stay good for a a month or so.

  22. Posted July 27, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this. I have included it in my June Recipe Roundup at This American Bite.

  23. Sue
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    Harvested a lot of Serrano peppers and found this recipe when looking for what to do with them. I am having a big girl peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Wonderful recipe, next time I’ll leave a few more seeds

  24. Posted September 26, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    Love the sweet and spicy combo – what a creative idea!

  25. Posted November 7, 2012 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

    Really i love this post. Thank you for sharing this post.

  26. Lee
    Posted December 7, 2012 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Can I use honey instead of sugar?

  27. gabi
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    I’ve haven’t tried that so I’m not sure of the results. You can certainly try, but keep in mind that the consistency will be much lighter – it won’t thicken as well as with sugar so you’ll have a runnier spread. The honey will also change the flavor, but that could be nice. Who knows, go for it!

  28. Suzanne
    Posted September 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    If i was to can this should I still let it cool? I’m relatively new to canning and everything has been processed hot.

  29. gabi
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    I’d follow the exact directions for your previous methods for canning jams to be safe. I don’t have much experience with canning so I’m not comfortable giving advice on this.

  30. Mendy
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Permalink

    Can this be stored in ball freezer jars and frozen?

  31. gabi
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 9:17 PM | Permalink

    Sure, and that would be cute too! Only thing is that it will be tough to turn the lids once frozen so you’ll have to let it sit our for a few minutes before it can be opened. Also be cautious not to overfill or pack the jars too tight – just leave a tad of breathing at the top.

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