Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pepper jelly utilizes end-of-season produce

I’m preparing to pull up stakes and tomato cages from the yard since a frost finally decimated the remaining plants. That leaves me only with the freshness I have already harvested to use in my creating and exploring. I recently put the hot peppers to use in a jelly.

Jelly-making was new to me so, as I typically do when I try cooking something unfamiliar, I read several recipes to pick up tips then sort of pieced together the best parts of them for my jelly. It turns out that making jelly isn’t that difficult. This type of jelly can also yield a culinary as well as a slightly medicinal product.
Here are the basic steps I followed.

1. Wash and cut up peppers. I used one pound bell peppers and ½ pound hot peppers. You can vary the ratio but be forewarned that even that 2:1 ratio can yield a spicy product, depending on the types of peppers you use.
2. Cook peppers with 1 ½ cups white vinegar. Bring to boil then simmer for 30 minutes or so.
3. Strain mixture through cheesecloth, getting out as much liquid as possible. It will be approximately 2 cups of juice.
4. Return juice to pan. Combine with 2 ½ cups sugar. Bring to boil then add two packages powdered pectin. Boil hard for one minute then simmer 30 minutes or so until slightly thicker.
5. Fill four jelly jars and process in a hot water bath for five minutes.
6. When canning, always remember to sterilize your jars, lids and funnel.

Because I used a combination of green, red and orange peppers, our jelly is a pretty color. Some recipes recommend adding food coloring to your liking.

Jim loves the jelly on toast, saying if he adds butter also then it cuts the heat. I, on the other hand, found toast even with butter to be too hot for my mouth. Next I’ll try it with cream cheese on crackers, a combination I had once at a party. Until then, I know that if my head gets congested, I need only take a bite of pepper jelly to breath freely once again.

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