As I mentioned in this post, My Man grows both tomatoes and jalapenos in our garden. The tomatoes have been done for a few weeks now, but the peppers are still thriving, probably due to 17 consecutive days of triple-digit heat here in Texas. It's hot, Hot, HOT!
So I decided to carry that HOT theme into my cooking this weekend by using some of the jalapenos (which have now ripened to a beautiful red color) in homemade jalapeno pepper jelly.
I have never made jam or jelly before, but my mother and sister are experts at it. I figure it runs in the family. It's really not difficult if you are a person who is somewhat methodical, but I'm no expert and welcome any comments on canning methods and safety.
Red Hot Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Original recipe from allrecipes.com
Yield: About 8 half-pint jars
(click here to print)
2 large green bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
24 whole jalapeno peppers (I used 12 because mine were huge)
3 cups apple cider vinegar
8 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. liquid pectin
8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced (optional--gives a little more texture and heat to the jelly)
Sterilize 8 or 9 half-pint jars and rings by covering them with water in a large canning pot or deep stock pot and simmering for 5 or 10 minutes. The water level should be about 2 inches above the jars. You can also sterilize the jars in the dishwasher.
Wash the lids with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Keep the jars, rings, and lids in hot (but not boiling) water while you prepare the jelly.
Place the green bell pepper and whole jalapenos into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely minced. Place in a large saucepan, pour the vinegar over, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a sieve or colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and place the colander over a deep bowl. Strain the liquid from the cooked peppers by pressing on them. You should have about 2 cups of liquid.
Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute; mixture will be foamy.
Remove from heat and add the pectin and minced peppers. Stir well for about 5 minutes, skimming off the foam as needed. This may help to keep the minced peppers from floating to the top of the finished jelly.
Remove the hot jars, rings and lids from the water (with tongs) and invert the jars briefly to dry. Then pour or ladle jelly mixture into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space for expansion. Wipe the jar lip clean, top with the lids and rings, and tighten gently (not too tight). Process in a simmering water bath for 5 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the jars sit in the water for an additional 5 minutes. Carefully use tongs to remove jars from the water bath to a clean towel or cooling rack.
Leave at least an inch of space between each jar. Let cool without disturbing until jars seal. (You should hear a "pop" noise.) Let cool for 8-12 hours, then test the seal. If any jars didn't seal, you will have to refrigerate or freeze the jelly for it to keep long-term.
This recipe can easily be halved if you want to make a smaller amount.
I plan on using my pepper jelly over cream cheese as an hor d'oeuvre with crackers, for spinach salad with pepper jelly vinaigrette, and as a spicy counterpoint to my cheesy biscuits. Do you have a favorite way to use pepper jelly? Please share!