Red pepper jelly is a staple of the classic PA Dutch repertoire. Sweet or hot. Clear with a reddish tint to it.
On cream cheese with crackers, oh my. These days I have it on cream cheese on a red pepper square.
The old Ball Jar canning book — the BLUE one–careful how you say that — which everyone had when I was growing up, had a good recipe for this, so I went looking.
I found this on the current Ball site:
YOU WILL NEED
- 5 Tbsp. Ball®Classic Pectin
- 12 jalapeno peppers, cored seeded and minced (about 1-1/4 cup)
- 1-3/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. butter
- 3-1/2 cup sugar
- Ball® glass preserving jars with lids and bands
- Required: Ball® freshTECH Jam + Jelly Maker
What is this required thing ‘YOU WILL NEED’ that I never heard of? With weird capitalization, and that shout-y header and all?
Then I looked. Then I laughed. Oh no, no, no. None of this “better living through chemistry” stuff — or large and unnecessary kitchen appliances.
Besides, pectin is for wussies. Forget about it. Do this instead.
My favorite version of this jelly is as hot as I can make it, from Canning for a New Generation by Liane Krissoff.
The recipe can be found at this site, with the photo from the book — it shows the final product.
Although it’s a fairly simple recipe, the work is all at the beginning. First, you combine a lot of stuff with your hot peppers, much of it pectin rich — apples, lemons, and I used cranberries in the “plum” ingredient line that adds color. Cranberries have pectin too.
Then you cook it all down into a slurry:
And sieve it through a very fine mesh — as in my boullion sieve — no pushing stuff thorough here — just scrape lightly if the sieve clogs. You want a liquid with no solids:
I wound up with quite a lot of liquid in the end. The recipes in the book are on the small side, as Krissoff began canning in an urban kitchen, so I usually double them. Even though I have a very large preserving pan, I had enough liquid to almost justify two batches, but it just squeaked by as a single batch.
Then you cook down this juice, with 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of juice rendered. A single batch makes about four cups, which you can top up with water if you run short. Mine was extra juicy — I got about 10 cups instead of the 4 x 2 = 8 expected.
Cook until it reaches at set point, at about 220ish degrees F. I took mine to 225. The jelly is a bit on the soft side, the better to spread on whatever. It makes a great glaze too. Roasted chicken, for example, really goes well.
Despite my many jam-making adventures, this is the one people ask for hopefully every year. Kids don’t like it. More for you. Good with adult beverages.