Saturday, September 01, 2012

Hot pepper jelly

For the last 10 or 15 years, my sister has gifted jars of her wonderful hot pepper jelly to the family at Christmastime. The recipe came from a long forgotten cookbook. Since this was the "best recipe out of the book," she let the cookbook go. I suspect that she traded it in for another cookbook.

With no jelly eaters in my house, Debbie would give our jelly to her parents. My mother-in-law frequently enjoys peanut butter and hot pepper jelly sandwiches with it. In time, she ran out of the jelly and asked my sister directly for some more (they live in the same city). Now my sister includes them in her annual jelly giveaway.

A recipe for jalapeno jelly in the food section of the Sacramento Bee prompted me to talk to Elizabeth about the jelly making process. She responded to my questions with her recipe and a detailed explanation of the process. I thought that her jelly would nicely compliment the empanadas on the menu at work on Monday.

I prepared and canned four half-pint jars of Elizabeth's hot pepper jelly at work yesterday. "The more red peppers (hot or sweet)," she said in an email Thursday evening, "the more appealing the jelly is to the eye." She lets the brightness of the peppers color the jelly.

To prepare the jelly, I trimmed, seeded and minced the contents of a 12-ounce package of sweet mini peppers. The assortment of red, orange and yellow peppers gave the finished jelly an appealing red hue. This yielded 1-3/4 cups of finely minced peppers. Eight ounces of jalapeno chile peppers yielded one cup of minced chiles. 

"Sterilize the jars and keep in the hot water until ready to fill," advised Elizabeth. "I always just add new lids and re-used rims to the hot water as well." Fill the jars with the prepared jelly. She then wipes the rim of the jars with a clean towel, place the lid on and tighten the rim. Inverting the jars helps form a seal and distribute the contents.

I enjoyed the sweet and spicy flavor of the jelly, as did several residents at work. You'll enjoy the clean pepper flavor. Elizabeth's hot pepper jelly is good when pared with cream cheese. She will spoon the jelly over a block of cheese and serve it with crackers for a quick appetizer.


Adjusting the quantity of jalapeno chile peppers will determine the heat level of this jelly. Because I used mild jalapenos in this batch, I didn't think the jelly was too hot. To boost the heat level, use more jalapeno chile peppers and less of the sweet peppers. You can also substitute a hotter chile pepper (like Serrano's) for the jalapenos.

12 ounces sweet peppers, minced
8 ounces jalapeno chile peppers, minced
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 (3-ounce) package liquid pectin

Place sweet and hot peppers, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice in a 4- to 6-quart saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring continually; remove from heat. Remove from heat; stir in liquid pectin. Return to a full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Skim foam off, if necessary.

Immediately fill hot, sterilized, half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Place hot lids on jars and screw bands on firmly; invert jars for 5 minutes. Turn right side up and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 half-pint jars, or about 2 cups jelly.