We have Joan from High Mountain Dessert teaching us how to make some Hot Pepper Jelly today! I don’t know about you, but I love this stuff! I appreciate her sharing one of her secret recipes with us, and even going above and beyond and giving us some tips on how to make your own jam & jelly! The only jam I’ve tried making is strawberry jam, so I’m excited to try something new!
Also, if you’re impatient like I am and want to dive right into smothering bread and crackers with it – you can get some straight from Joan herself!
It’s Not Your Mama’s Hot Pepper Jelly
- 3 cups chopped bell peppers (can be green or red or half and half)
- 1.5 cups of white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite powdered or dried pepper flakes (or 2 -3 T of fresh chopped hot pepper)
- 7.5 cups white sugar
- 1 pouch liquid pectin (I prefer Certo, but Ball is fine too, it just takes a little longer to set)
- Chop your bell peppers to about 1/4 inch diameter (or cheat like I do and do it in the food processor). Pulse until there are no large pieces, but not until it is mush. I leave some of the bell pepper seeds in – I think it gives it a better favor.
- Place your chopped peppers and white vinegar in a stainless steel stock pot (at least 6-8 qt. size). I like a good thick 18/10 (on the bottom of the pan) and one of my favorites is a Potobelo (got it at Ross).
- Add your choice of peppers – you can use powdered peppers like Ghost, Habanero or any other powdered pepper that you like. Or if you like one that does not come in a powder form, you can buy them dried whole and chop them in your food processor.
- (Hint: When chopping dried peppers be sure to wear a face mask, eye protection and gloves and cover the top of the food processor with a damp towel. Let the dust settle before you open and keep the mask on until you can breathe comfortably)
- When you put the peppers in your jelly, don’t stand over the jelly and breathe in. Believe me, been there, done that. Not a good idea!
- Turn the heat on high and let it come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add your sugar and stir until it is no longer visible (you don’t have to stir until it boils again, but keep an eye on it).
- When the mixture comes to a rolling boil, add your pectin. Let it come back to a rolling boil (one that can’t be stirred down). Boil for one minute and then turn off heat.
- There may be foam on top – DO NOT ADD BUTTER. In a pepper jelly, butter just makes it look oily. Here is a hint for getting rid of that foam. After you turn it off, let it sit for a minute or so and then run a wire whisk around in the jelly. Do that two or three times at 30 second to one minute intervals and soon there won’t be any significant foam.
- Pour into your hot half pint or pint jelly jars.
- Water Bath your jelly after it is made. Since I am at a high altitude (9200 ft) I water bath for 20-25 minutes but at sea level 10 should be fine. It helps seal the jelly and keeps it fresher longer.
- Check out How to Make Cooked Jam for more instructions and cooking times for different altitudes.
Hot Pepper Tips:
- What peppers should you use? Some of my favorite peppers to use are dried Smoked Serrano, Scorpion (hottest), Ghost (next hottest) Habanero (mildly citrusy) dried Piquin peppers, or fresh jalapeno’s (if using fresh Jalapenos or Habanero, use at least 2-3 Tablespoons per recipe).
- Where to get hot peppers? I like a store called Savory Spice. They have everything. Penzey’s Spice Shop may have some, but I have been pretty loyal to Savory Spice. You can also check your local ethnic food stores.
Tips For How to Make Jam & Jelly:
You can double, triple or quadruple any jelly or jam recipe even though the recipe tells you not to. If you are going to do that, here are some hints…
- The jell happens when liquid is evaporated from the fruit, so if you have trouble getting your jelly or jam to set, try boiling it longer. I make 6 times the normal amount when I cook a batch, and since I live at a very high altitude, where the boiling point is different than sea level, I end up boiling for about 3 minutes. Now if you did that at sea level with a single batch, your jelly would be really solid, but you don’t need to add more pectin (like I tried doing for awhile) you need to boil it longer. Try boiling it for 90 seconds instead of 60.
- A rolling boil reminds me of a volcano. The liquid boils and boils and sometimes even spits. Which is why I wear my long rubber gloves. It helps if you have an exhaust fan over your stove turned on. It seems to dray out the moisture better.
- If your fruit floats to the top when you our your first jar, it may need a little more cooking time. But if the liquid looks thick (like syrup) it will jell. Just turn your jelly on it’s head for 10-20 minutes after the water bath. Make sure you turn it back over before it completely jells though or you will have an air space at the bottom of your jar. I have also been known to shake the jelly when it comes out of the water bath. I have read that you shouldn’t but have never had any problems with it. Just make sure your lid is on tight before you shake it!
- Here are some of my FABORITE TOOLS:
- The timer has three different timers on it so I can be timing a jam that is cooking, and 2 other events at the same time.
- Also, since my jars have a smaller opening than classic canning jars, I use the pitcher to pour the jams. I got it as a watering can at Dollar Tree and it has been invaluable.
- The hand blender comes in handy when you have some larger pieces of fruit that are already being cooked but need to be reduced in size.
- And the whisk is for breaking up the bubbles in the foam.
- If you have hard water or well water, add a little white vinegar to the water bath and to the water the lids are in (1/4 to 1/2 cup?). It keeps that film from coating your glass and lids.
- I make sure that when I take the jars out of the water bath, that I don’t grab them right under the lid. I grab further down on the jar. I have had too many lids unseal by putting pressure on them.
- If you are making a lot of jams, put them on cooling racks and you can put a fan on them so they jell a little faster.
- A little bit of butter put in before the first boil will help reduce foam. But I have also heard that it can turn rancid, so your jelly will only be good for a year or two.
- The best thing I have found for easy incorporation of the sugar into the liquid is a dough whisk. It makes the job SO much easier.
- If you are making a lot of jam, sterilize your jars in the dishwasher and then place them in your oven at 190°. They will stay hot enough there until you need them. Take them out with tongs, because they will be hot!
- When making large batches DON’T add all the sugar at once. It can lower the temperature of the liquid too much, keeping it from jelling – I usually add it in three stages. Put in the first batch of sugar, mix it in, let it dissolve a little, then do it again, and again.
Happy Jelly & Jam Making!!!
Win Some Jam & Jelly For Yourself!
Joan is giving 4 of her homemade jams and jellies (2 Pepper + 2 Fruit) to one lucky person! If you want that person to be you, fill out the form below for your chance to win!
Also, be sure to check-out High Mountain Dessert to let us know which jam or jelly you would choose!