Every year I vow to dig up some pepper plants and over winter them in the house, but I never get around to it and always have to wait until late summer for a bounty of peppers. Peppers supposedly do very well as a perennial and produce a lot more as the plant matures. You can’t really do this with tomato plants, but it is supposed to work with peppers. I’ll try to dig some up this year, but no promises! If you do try it, let me know how it works.
At any rate…we’ve got a plethora of peppers now. Jalapenos, Fat-N-Sassy, California Wonders, Lilacs, Pepperoncini, and a few Habaneros. I’ve made all the salsa we can handle, so it’s Pepper Jelly Time! I usually make a large amount of this stuff every other year and we have plenty to devour as well as plenty to give away as gifts and bribes to friends and family.
Don’t be afraid of this stuff, it’s very easy to make and the heat from the peppers is not a problem even for those that can’t normally handle spicy foods. We serve it with rice crackers and cream cheese…put a dollop of this jelly on there and you’ve got a snack that will prove to be highly addictive and a favorite of all that you share it with. The sugar and cream cheese kill the heat from the peppers just seconds after the heat hits your tongue. It’s a wonderful pain/pleasure sensation that’s decadent to say the least!
Ok…here we go. First, go pick all the peppers you can…a 50/50 mix of hot and sweet is usually what I use. Toss in ONE OR TWO habaneros or Thai Chilies or whatever super hot pepper you have growing, but are afraid to do anything with. Get some rubber gloves and open some windows and turn on some fans for ventilation. Trust me on the rubber gloves!
Don’t get too fancy with the knife…just cut the tops off the jalapenos and other slender peppers. With the bell peppers, take the top off and remove the bulk of the seed locules. Toss these in a food processor or blender and puree into a finely chopped slush. Keep those gloves on!
Put the peppers in a large pot with an equal amount of white or apple cider vinegar. I make large batches so 6 cups of pureed peppers and 6 cups of vinegar. Then add 3 cups of sugar per cup of peppers you use. 18 cups of sugar for my batch. Cook all of this on medium heat until it reaches a low boil. Don’t heat it too quickly or the sugar may scorch. Stir frequently and keep those fans on to vent the pepper fumes.
Once it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of food coloring…I prefer red, but have used green. I’d avoid blue! 😉
Also add Liquid Pectin at a rate of around 1 and 1/2 ounces per cup of peppers you used. You can use more pectin for a thicker jelly or less if you want a more syrupy texture.
If you want to, you can now strain the whole pot through a strainer to remove the seeds and chunks of peppers. This will make for less heat in your jelly and a true jelly or syrup appearance. I prefer to leave all the chunks and seeds in there so mine is more of a marmalade and has more heat to it.
Pour the hot jelly into sterilized jars, and follow the USDA guidelines for canning. I like to use a variety of sized jars so I can give small ones away as small gifts, give medium ones away as gifts for the ones that are addicted to this stuff, and some large ones for big parties.
I only make this every other year, so I make two big batches and end up with a supply that I don’t have to horde!