I am absolutely awash in peppers…they seem to have been the only thing that thrived in my garden this year…and on top of that, a coworker with the same problem gave me several dozen of his habeneros he couldn’t use. I am not really one to turn down produce, even though that meant scrambling to figure out how on earth I can use up so many habaneros. Obviously, after accepting my coworker’s challenge, I HAD to do something! So…when life hands you peppers…make pepper jelly!
And, oh my god, I am so glad I was up to the challenge, because I am absolutely obsessed with this stuff. Two weeks later, I am already down three of the seven jars. It perfectly hits that magical balance between sweet and spicy and savory. With some crackers and cream cheese, it is the most delicious snack and makes an easy impromptu hors d’ouevre. Canned, it makes a great gift, but sorry friends…this batch of pepper jelly is all mine.
The original recipe, adapted from the Ball Book of Home Preserving, calls for Jalapenos, but any mix of peppers will do. You can adjust the heat by varying the amount of seeds/inner ribs you discard. If you want to infuse some of the heat of the seeds and stems into your jelly, tie them in a bag of cheesecloth and boil with the jelly mixture, removing before canning. As I was using habaneros, I did not do this, and the result was perfectly hot.
De-seeding the peppers is the most laborious part (12 ounces is a LOT of freakin’ peppers!); the rest of the recipe goes quickly and easily. Almost too quickly…I took my eyes off the boiling pot for one moment and turned around to find the sticky, peppery mess spilling all over my electric stovetop. Lovely.
But the end result was completely worth it.
Hot pepper jelly
Makes about six 250ml jars
12 ounces assorted chili peppers, seeds, stems, and ribs removed (WEAR GLOVES!)
2 cups cider vinegar (divided in half)
6 cups granular sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin
Prepare your canner, lids and jars. Place lids in simmering water. Fill canner with sterilized jars and water (covering jars by at least 1 inch) and start bringing to a boil.
In a food processor, blend the peppers and 1 cup of the vinegar. The mixture should be fairly smooth, but not completely so you end up with pretty little flecks of peppers in the jelly.
In a large saucepan, combine this puree with the sugar and remaining 1 cup of vinegar. Bring to a boil and stir constantly for 10 minutes. Add the pectin and stir for one more minute. Remove from heat and let foam subside.
Working quickly, remove jars from canner and pour jelly into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, center lid over jar and screw on band tightly. Return to canner and process (at a high boil) for 10 minutes. Wait at least 5 minutes before removing from canner.
As the jars cool, swirl gently to encourage more even dispersal of the pepper flecks. Do not invert as this can affect the seal. Refrigerate any left over jelly plus any jars that do not completely seal by the next day.
Preserved jars should keep for up to a year in your pantry, but if you’re like me, you’ll have a hard time keeping them that long!