We grew a variety of hot peppers this year and, amazingly, they’ve all done really well. We’ve made fresh salsa with them, and recently I canned some Jalapeno salsa and will probably make another batch of that when more of the peppers have reached maturity.
A couple of years ago our friend, John, made some sort of hot pepper jam or marmalade and gave us a jar. I don’t remember all the details, just that it was hot and sweet and completely addictive.
With our lovely selection of peppers this year, I really wanted to make a jam or jelly myself. Over the winter I’d gone through various canning books and recipes, and marked the pages of the jellies I wanted to try. And finally, with our peppers ripening, and some of them turning brilliant shades of red, it was time.
For the habaneros, I’m using another fabulous recipe from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Here it is, with my changes and comments in parentheses:
1/3 cup finely sliced dried apricots
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (I used a plain ol’ white one)
1/4 cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper (I used a hot cherry pepper instead. Still red, but hot.)
1/4 cup finely chopped seeded habanero peppers (it was actually 5 habaneros and one orange scotch bonnet given to us by a friend of my husband)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin
1. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine apricots and vinegar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight. (I let mine go overnight.)
2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
3. Add red onion, red pepper and habanero peppers to apricots.
Stir in sugar.
Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
4. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.
Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars, cool and store.
The notes in the book say this recipe will make 3 eight-ounce jars. I wanted to use the cute little four-ounce jars I have, which would translate to 6, according to the recipe. I prepped 7, just to be on the safe side, and that turned out to be the perfect amount.
The book also discusses distribution of the solids. You can see in the picture above that the majority of the pepper and apricot is floating at the top (the exception being the two jars that seem to have received a LOT more of the little bits than the other jars did). The book does not recommend poking the solids down into the clear jelly, because that can disturb the whole gelling magic going on while the jars are processed. So they recommend, about fifteen minutes or so after you remove the jars from the water bath, that you tilt the jars – do not invert them or you could ruin the seal – and reposition them periodically, in order to move the solids around a bit while everything is cooling and setting.
I started to do this,
Anyway, Bill wanted to sample the jelly IMMEDIATELY but I told him no, he had to wait a day.
So the NEXT day, when he got home from work and was in need of a snack, we dove into one of the jars.
Then we broke out some chèvre and some crackers.
The jelly was really, really tasty, a yummy balance of sweet and hot. Actually, we could have done with a bit more hot, but we weren’t complaining.
It’s a good thing we’ve got more habaneros ripening.
Because I’ll definitely be making this again.