Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Making Jalapeno Jelly

I used the smallest jars I had.
It must be a Southern thing.  Several people in the past week, upon hearing that I already had a bumper crop of jalapenos on hand, asked if I had made any jalapeno jelly from it.  I had never heard of such a thing.  Cherry jelly, apple jelly, grape jelly, sure.  But jelly made of hot peppers?  Of what use could such a concoction possibly be?

Apparently it does have some utility: people pour it over warmed cream cheese and dip Wheat Thins in it.  Then they eat it.  No, really.

So with that in mind, let's make some.

We'll need:
  • 15 medium-sized jalapenos. That hardly made a dent in my crisper stock.
  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar.  This is not regular vinegar, so choose wisely.
  • 6(!) cups of sugar.  Good grief! I got Type 2 diabetes just reading this recipe.
  • 2 3-oz bags of liquid pectin. I have plenty of regular (i.e. powdered) pectin on hand, but since every recipe I saw demanded liquid pectin, I coughed up a few bucks and bought some.
I  The good news is that making this jelly is easy. Really easy. 
  1. Cut the tops off the peppers and toss them. Blend up the remaining pepper parts with 1 cup of vinegar until all the chunks are gone.
  2. Add your pepper smoothie and the other cup of vinegar in a big pot.  A really big pot.  You need a BIG pot. B-I-G. Did I mention you need a big pot?  Add in the 6(!) cups of sugar and bring it to a boil.*
  3. Boil it for pretty hard for 10 minutes.  At the same time, get your hot jars ready.
  4. Drop in your 6 oz. of liquid pectin and boil it for another minute.  Now it's done, and it's gonna gel fast, so ladle it as fast as you can into your jars.  This recipe promises to yield 2.5 pints - I used 10 4 oz. jars because, not knowing if I would ever actually eat jalapeno jelly, I figured small jars are easier to give away. It fit perfectly.
  5. Open-boil them for 10 minutes.  Poof! You're done.
Thoughts on the final product:

I've never seen a recipe gel as fast and thoroughly as this one.  I swear, by jar three I was trying to ladle around huge translucent chunks that had already gelled. I wish my cherry jelly gelled like that.

Using 4 ounce jars might have been a mistake.  Three of the ten did not seal properly.  You have to get the headspace perfect on such small jars, and with the gel coagulating as fast as it did, that was tough. Too tough for me.

Then I tasted it.  Hmmm... you might think that a recipe made up of nothing but jalapeno peppers, cider vinegar, and a buttload of sugar might look like the first, smell like the second, and taste like the third.  But brother I'm here to tell you that you would be exactly correct.

Maybe jalapeno jelly is an acquired taste. That just means that if this Minnesota boy has to eat it all himself, in 2020 7 4oz jars will suffer the same fate as 2008's pear butter.**  It's not that it tastes bad, it's just that it doesn't taste like something I'd eat voluntarily. 

To be fair - both to the recipe and to Southern culture - I have a box of Wheat Thins and a block of cream cheese on hand, so I'm going to try it as I guess it ought to be eaten.  Unless I am really pleasantly surprised, I suspect 7 Southron friends are going to get nice little green-flecked jars in their Christmas baskets this fall.   

Just sayin'.

* As soon as it comes to a boil you will understand the capital letters.
** I wonder if chickens get heartburn.


  1. I've read that giving chickens pepper, like cayenne, black pepper, red pepper, makes them lay better. Of course this was on backyardchickens.com, so your mileage may vary.

    Maybe jelly mixed with some scratch grains is just the ticket.

  2. Am I on the Christmas list? Jelly is the only way I'll touch jalapenos.

  3. Am I on the Christmas list?

    You're on the pre-Christmas list. If I remember to bring a jar this Sunday, it's yours.

    FWIW, Molly ate a bit of it tonight, and I have to admit that on Wheat Thins it's not as bad as I feared - or at least the crackers did not last as long as I expected.

    I would like some feedback... If you give it a thumbs-up, I'll probably make more. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to eat it, but I have to admit that I did not dislike it...

  4. I'm from the only Southron state not conquered...stopped their a$$ cold at Natural Bridge just south of Tally...as if it mattered.
    But don't send me that sh*t unless you're sending all the Nacho fixins w/it.