DesBrisay Dines

Aunt Thelma’s Peppered Pineapple Preserve

It’s been my go-to jar all summer. On ribs, on chicken and duck, on grilled tofu, Aunt Thelma’s has come through for me. And I’m thinking in February, she’ll be even more of a welcomed friend.

The Scotch Bonnet Pepper, according to Aunt Thelma’s, rates from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units, which is really quite hot. In her Peppered Pineapple Preserve, the Scoville units hit you at the seven-second mark. The first flavour is pure juicy pineapple, left loosely chunky, its sweetness from unrefined cane sugar, balanced with a bit of lime. And then, just as you’re thinking ‘Hey, waitaminute … where’s the pepper part of these preserves?’ — there they are. Seven seconds later, they reveal themselves. And they pick up a mouth-gust and intensify for a further seven seconds, before slowly loosening their fiery grip. Somewhat — and only until the next bite.

This is a terrific jar of summer flavour, simple and balanced, found at The Zydeco Smokehouse where I first discovered it dolloped on jerk chicken. I bought a jar, along with Aunt Thelma’s Jerk Rub (dried scallions, Jamaican allspice, orange zest, hickory smoked sea salt, organic cane sugar, herbs, spices, ground Scotch Bonnets; very effective on pretty much everything).

According to the Aunt Thelma website, you can buy this good stuff at Zydeco, the Sausage Kitchen, La Bottega Nicastro, Oh So Good Desserts, Bananas Caribbean, and the Hill Butcher Shop in the east end of town.

Anne DesBrisay is the restaurant critic for Ottawa Magazine. She has been writing about food and restaurants in Ottawa-Gatineau for 25 years and is the author of three bestselling books on dining out. She is head judge for Gold Medal Plates and a member of the judging panel at the Canadian Culinary Championships.