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RED JALAPENO JELLY

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This spring I optimistically planted six tomato plants, five chiles (three Jalapeno, two poblano) and six squash plants. The squash plants are a bunch of worthless slackers. The tomatoes got a late start but are making up for it now with avalanches of yellow pear-shaped tomatoes and a crop of beefsteaks coming on. The chiles found their footing early and have been producing like there’s no tomorrow. I had planned to make salsa – loads and loads of salsa – but the main ingredients didn’t all ripen at the same time. So, jelly.

Most of the Jalapeno jelly recipes require a couple of green bell peppers, which seems a distraction and beside the point; also, you had to go through all that jelly bag draining nonsense which is tiresome. I found this one online and it’s much simpler. I adapted it ever so slightly to go with what I had.

RED JALAPENO JELLY

  • 12 ounces red Jalapenos (about 12 medium)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 three-ounce pouches of liquid pectin
  • red food coloring

Before you start with the recipe, prepare six 8-ounce canning jars with lids and ring bands by heating in large pot of simmering water, which will be used to process the filled jars later.

I decided that 14 smallish Jalapenos plus two red poblanos equaled 12 ounces.

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Remove the stems from peppers, slice in half, and remove most of the seeds. The seeds and ribs are where the heat is so don’t be too scrupulous about removing them all. Mo hotta, mo betta.

Cut into pieces and put in a blender or a food processor with one cup of the vinegar, and blitz. Do not strain.

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Combine the pureed chiles with the remaining 1 cup vinegar and the sugar in a largish pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar, and boil over medium heat, stirring as needed. Do not allow to boil over because you will have the stickiest mess ever.

The mixture will turn from red to orange.

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Meanwhile, cut the tops off the two pouches of liquid pectin and prop them up in a cup.

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After ten minutes, add the pectin. Quickly squeeze the pouches to get all the contents out and into the boiling liquid. Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. The mixture will go from foamy and puffy to condensed and shiny.

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Remove from heat. Add food coloring if using (I found it took about 1/4 teaspoon to get the red color I wanted) and skim off any foam.

Ladle the hot jelly into hot jars. I find a canning funnel invaluable here.

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Leave about 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel (anything on the rim may interfere with sealing). Fish a ring and band out of the simmering water and apply, tightening comfortably by hand (these jars are hot so use a mitt if necessary). As jars are filled, place them back into the pot of simmering water. When all jars are filled and in the hot water, water should cover jars by 1″.

Adjust heat so water is at a fast simmer. Do not boil violently as this may cause jars to rattle around and interfere with the necessary vacuum sealing. Process for 10 minutes.

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Remove jars with a jar lifter and place on a folded towel away from drafts. Let cool completely. When sealed, lids should stay down when pressed. Any that do not stay down should be stored in the refrigerator. The recipe said it made 5 8-ounce jars but I got 5 1/2.

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If what you have are green Jalapenos, they work fine in this – just use green food coloring.

If you want a much hotter jelly, add hotter chilis (though I do think the Jalapenos make a good base note with their slightly fruity, distinctive flavor) – try a serrano or two, a chipotle (available dried or in adobo) for a hot smoked flavor, or go on up the heat scale to pequins, Thai bird, Scotch Bonnets or habaneros. Hey, it’s your creation.

This is usually presented on a bar of cream cheese with crackers, but it also makes a nice glaze for chicken, ham or pork. I think it would be interesting used as a filling for chocolate cake. And of course, spread it on toast or biscuits.

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