A few years ago, I was working a corporate job which I loved. Hubby and I had no kids, which, in retrospect, was the equivalent of an extended vacation, and my days were spent in an office, surrounded by people doing the same kind of work as I was doing. But this post isn’t about how much I enjoyed working in an office, or wearing high heels on a daily basis, or how much I enjoyed ironing dress shirts and pencil skirts. How nice it was to not have to check my sleeves for leftover peanut butter and jelly smudges, or check my pants for the inevitable cracker crumbs that somehow always wind up in the driver’s seat of my car (seriously, how does that happen?) No, this post is about the day I discovered pepper jelly, and how it changed my life forever.
The specifics aren’t necessary, but a co-worker brought a small jar of gold-green jelly with her, along with a brick of cream cheese and buttery crackers. I watched in confusion as she poured the jelly over the top of the cream cheese and then proceeded to spread the mixture onto a cracker. “What is that?” I asked, “Pepper jelly” she said. “Pepper WHAT?” “Jelly”. She then explained that it was made with sugar, vinegar and hot and sweet peppers. Somehow, she persuaded me to try it, and I’m so very glad she did. It was love at first taste, right away I began to think of other ways to incorporate this jelly into some of my favorite dishes. Here are a few of my favorites: This makes an excellent dipping sauce for Egg Rolls – better than duck sauce, or sweet and sour sauce. Its the best served over sesame chicken, or as a stir fry sauce. It’s super tasty spooned over warm cornbread. But my absolute favorite way to use it is as a sweet and spicy chicken wing glaze – a few spoonful’s of this baby, warmed, with some melted butter stirred in makes the Best. Glaze. Ever.
This is a canning recipe, but it is not really that scary. I used a hot water bath method. Keep your area clean, and be sure to sterilize the jars first, and you will be fine. Also, make sure you wear gloves when preparing the peppers. A little oil goes a long way, and you could wind up unpleasantly surprised when you go to scratch your nose later that evening.
I like to use this recipe which calls for Sure-Jell powdered pectin. I have nothing against liquid pectin, but I do quite a bit of canning in the summer and always have powdered pectin on hand.
Sweet and Spicy Chili Pepper Jelly
Recipe adapted from Kraft.com
- 5 Anaheim Chili peppers (banana peppers are fine too), seeded, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
Slice peppers in half and remove seeds – place in Vitamix or Food Processor and pulse until finely chopped, or chop by hand (wear gloves!).
Place peppers in 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Add vinegar. Stir in pectin. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and add butter. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars in canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing centers of lids with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
I know this recipe seems like a lot of work, but I guarantee, the pay-off is worth the effort. Just like staying home with my kids. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I see some peanut butter smudges that need addressing. 🙂
*Green, yellow or orange bell peppers may be used too. I prefer to sort my peppers by color and cook separate batches of jelly so that each end product is different. You’d be surprised at how different each color jelly tastes. For the picture I’ve posted, I used all red bell peppers, red anaheim peppers and red jalapenos.