I had a cookout last year and invited a couple of very picky eaters. One would not allow his different foods to touch each other on his plate and immediately refused to try the Jalapeño jelly I offered him with his grilled chicken. The other timidly said he’d have a little on the side and when he tasted it, he couldn’t say enough about how much he loved it. The first one then said maybe he’d try just a touch. Well, both were bowled over by the spicy sweet flavor and the way it complimented the chicken; so much so, that I ended up giving most of my stockpile away as they departed that evening.
Let me just say one thing: when someone gives you a jar of homemade jam or jelly, dilly beans, marinara, or whatever, it is truly a gift. Making these things and preserving them is very labor intensive and, if they’ve actually grown the ingredients too, it’s nothing short of getting a small piece of them. Relish that gift!
So here’s how we make our Jalapeño Jelly. You will need:
3/4 lb. of Jalapeño Peppers, washed well
1 package of Pectin
2 cups of Cider Vinegar, divided
5 cups Sugar
1/2 tsp butter
red or green food coloring, if desired
6 half pint jars, clean, sterile and keeping warm in a 175 degree oven
Remove the stems, seeds and membranes of the peppers. Be sure to use disposable latex gloves or you’ll be sorry later if you put your hand in your mouth or eye. The heat from the peppers just absorbs into your skin and trust me when I say it stays there a good while, not matter how long you wash your hands. It’s better just to use the gloves.
Once the peppers are ready, place them in a food processor or blender, along with 1 cup of the cider vinegar. Process until smooth.
You can see I left some seeds…this was an extra spicy batch. If you don’t want it super hot, be careful about removing all seeds. Next, put the pepper mixture, along with 1 box of pectin, the butter and the remaining 1 cup of cider vinegar in your heavy stockpot or saucepan. The mixture will be an unattractive green so don’t worry, you’re not doing it wrong. If you want to add food coloring, do so now, but don’t go crazy with it. A little goes a long way and I personally don’t like when it looks dyed green. I used just a tip of a toothpick dipped in Wilton icing coloring in forest green. Stir the jelly constantly over medium high heat until it reaches a rolling boil that can’t be stirred down. Pour in the measured sugar all at once and continue to stir constantly. When the mixture returns again to a hard boil, set your timer and continue stirring and cooking for exactly one minute. Remove from heat.
Ladle hot jelly into the warmed jars and be sure to use a damp, clean cloth to wipe the rims and remove any wayward jelly. Cover with jar lids, which have been sitting in very warm water, and screw the rings on tightly. Place in a wire canning rack, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. We often set up our canner out in the garage on the propane fish fryer, right on the flame, particularly if we have a lot going on in the kitchen, which was the case today.
Be sure and just let the jelly sit undisturbed for about 24 hours, then gently press each lid to ensure it has sealed. If any haven’t, you can still refrigerate those jars and use the jelly. Store all correctly sealed jars in a cool, dry place until use.
This jelly is spectacular when serve over chicken, pork, and even fish! We use it year round to add some kick and interest to plain old grilled meat. I always have a jar on hand during the holidays and at other parties to serve over a block of cream cheese with some crackers. If you add some pretty labels and ribbon, these make beautiful gifts. Happy Jelly Making!