Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

December 2, 2014

in Cook What You Like, Fancy Pantry, Little Bites

Jalapeño Pepper Jelly.  Oh! – so hot and sweet at the same time.

Take a cracker and smear it with cream cheese.  Then generously top with the Jalapeño Pepper Jelly.  Your taste buds will overheat somewhat and then Cream Cheese comes to the rescue.  After THAT little burst of surprise, you’ll want another one.  And then another.  Very addicting.

And the jelly (also a jam) loves to go to parties.  Partners well with beer.  Flirts with prosecco.  You’ll become well-known after the first person at the party tastes the pepper jam (see immediate preceding paragraph).

Late summer Jalapeños have concentrated flavors, deep red color and significant heat (fiery but not incendiary).  You can also use green Jalapeños which provides a slightly different flavor profile.  Either way, if you mix the two colors, make one dominant (3:1 ratio) so that the end result is either red or green based, otherwise the jam can look a little “muddy”.

The heat is in the seeds, or is it in the ribs?  Why take a chance?  Use them both. If you like less heat, leave out the seeds or the ribs.  Or you can substitute half of the Jalapeños with red or green bell peppers. Still pretty and fun with half the kick.

A word of caution: please, please use diligent care when handling the Jalapeños.  Wear thick rubber gloves (opportune time to get a new pair) while cutting the peppers and thoroughly wash all surfaces that are touched by the peppers. Use protective eye gear (don’t wear contacts), keep your hands away from your face, and don’t let little ones or pets go in the kitchen when you’re handling the peppers.  If you should accidentally get some capsaicin your eyes, flush immediately with water.

This ripe tomato came to my rescue when, after making three batches of pepper jam, my left thumb and forefinger were uncomfortably “hot” (and I wore new gloves, too!).  Efforts to reduce the heat included slathering the afflicted fingers with vegetable oil and rinsing in cool water, and dipping them in ice water; both options yielded limited results.  Then I spotted the top half of this heirloom in the fridge.  I plunged my fingers into the tomato and ahhh…the coldness was so soothing.  After a minute or so, I removed my fingers from the tomato – the fire didn’t return – perhaps it was the acid in the tomato?

Recipe: Jalapeño Pepper Jelly

Summary: Hot and sweet Jalapeño Pepper Jelly enlivens cream cheese and crackers, salad dressings, and grilled meats.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped Jalapeño peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 bottle (or 2 pouches) liquid pectin (6 ounces total)

Instructions

  1. Prepare peppers:  in two batches, chop the peppers with about a 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar in a food processor or blender until the mixture looks like a coarse purée. Combine both batches and any remaining cider vinegar and salt into a large preserving pan.
  2. Cook jelly:  over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and measure mixture.  If there’s less than 3 cups, make up the difference by adding water.  Return mixture and any added water to the preserving pan.  Stir in sugar.
  3. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down) and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Watch carefully as mixture can quickly boil over.
  4. Remove from heat and add liquid pectin; stir in well.  Return to high heat and bring to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly one minute. Remove again from heat and let mixture cool for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly distribute peppers.
  5. Jar and process in a water bath:  ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Seal jars with new two-piece lids according to manufacturer’s directions. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes then remove jars and cool on wire racks.  Check seals the next day.  For best results, use within a year.

Makes about 7 half-pint jars.

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