This year I have about five hot pepper plants — some standby jalapeno, but also some other varieties like Scotch Bonnet, which means more pepper sauce, pepper vinegar, and my favorite: Hot Pepper Jelly.
If you’re new to canning but want to give it a whirl, this is a perfect first recipe. It contains few ingredients, is foolproof, and doesn’t take long to make. We use it in tons of ways throughout the year: As an appetizer with cream cheese, on a toasted English muffin topped with scrambled eggs, on cornbread during Chili Night. Depending on the variety, it can be super-hot, or just have a little kick. This year I combined several peppers, and it turned out hotter than plain jalapeno, but not remotely unbearable and sweat-inducing.
I also love giving this away because it’s a little unusual as far as kitchen gifts go, and if you use a variety of red and green peppers, you’re matching all the holiday decor come December. I made one batch a couple of weeks ago, and sent Sylvie with a jar to our new and already adored next-door neighbor. Sylvie told me a couple of days later that our neighbor, Heidi, told her the jelly was “rocket ships.” I think she said “the bomb,” but what do I know? I’m not hip enough to know the lingo these days. But I got the impression Heidi liked it.
If you’re new to canning, you might want to watch a couple of YouTube videos just to see the process in action, but know that it’s easy-peasy and very addicting. I didn’t grow up with a canning mom, and I was fairly certain this was rocket science when I first attempted it; fortunately my friend Martha, whose mom did can, p’shawed me 15 years ago and helped take the mystery out of canning. She’s right; it’s not intimidating once you try it.
Oh, but if you’re trying hot pepper jelly, do yourself a favor and wear rubber gloves to cut and deseed the peppers. Seriously. As someone who pooh-poohs those warnings every year and has to hold baggies of ice for hours afterward, don’t be like me. Wear gloves.
So you wanna make some jelly? Here’s how.
Hot Pepper Jelly
1/2 cup finely diced and seeded hot peppers
1/2 cup finely diced and seeded bell pepper
6-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 3-oz. package liquid pectin (such as Cert-o)
Sterilize 7 or 8 half-pint canning jars and their lids. They will also have rings that hold the lids in place, but these rings just need to be clean, not sterilized. To sterilize, stick the jars in boiling water for several minutes. Meanwhile…
Mix the peppers, sugar, and apple cider in a good-sized non-reactive pan. Over high heat, bring this mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and boil gently for about 7 minutes, give or take a minute, stirring frequently. The little peppers will get limp and the sugar will be dissolved. Pour in the liquid pectin and boil for another 60 seconds.
Spoon the hot jelly into the sterilized canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar; you don’t want to fill it all the way to the top of the jar or the jar won’t be able to seal. Don’t get greedy and overfill the jars. Also, if any jelly gets around the rim of the jars, wipe the jar rims clean with a damp cloth; the jars won’t seal if there’s if the jar rims aren’t completely clean. Put the sterilized lids on the canning jars and screw on the ring bands. To seal the jars, process them in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the jars out of the canner and wait for the satisfying *ping* telling you each jar has sealed. If any don’t seal, just store them in the fridge and use them first.
This makes about 7 half-pint jars of delicious, delicious jelly. Happy hot peppering!