Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pepper Jelly

Last week, in between me popping out of town to go to Pennsylvania on an errand of mercy to help out one of my old Girl Scouts who has four children under the age of four, and driving to Massachusetts to see my favorite NPR program, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me at Tanglewood, our friends Nancy and Dave brought us a handful of long green hot peppers. I consulted the cookbook to see what could be done with long green hot peppers and ran across Pepper Jelly.
The recipe makes twelve six ounce jars of the stuff. Since I practically carry jars of mincemeat in my purse in order to get rid of it, I figured I could do very well with half the recipe of pepper jelly.
I bought the green peppers and, after consulting with a young woman at Magruders', went to Safeway and bought Cubanelle peppers. The recipe is not particularly descriptive in telling you what kind of peppers you should buy. "Long yellow sweet peppers" didn't tell me much, but the Magruders' woman said Cubanelle, and I went with those. I already had the hot green peppers, although it wasn't clear exactly which kind of hot green pepper Hewett meant. (I doubt if she knew since we know she never tested her recipes.)

These are Cubanelle peppers. They are not hot. 

These are cayenne peppers, I think. Since someone just dropped them off at my house I am not quite sure what we have. However, my peppers look like these and are are very hot.

I had intended to get to my jellymaking after Bob, our daughter and I got back from brunch. However, the best laid plans got messed up when I discovered I had forgotten to buy pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring substance that makes jelly jell. The recipe calls for liquid pectin. Ace Hardware in Tenley Circle had powdered pectin. It was nearly 6:00 by the time I got back from the hardware store, watered the flowers in front of the house and futzed around for a while.
Then I started to work. The recipe says the peppers should be ground. Those of you who  know my methods realize that the food processor has overtaken the grinder as an instrument of  household utility. So I buzzed three green peppers, three cubanelle peppers and four hot green peppers that looked like cayenne peppers. The cayenne peppers filled the air with a definite nasal cavity clearing aura. Then I buzzed half an onion and put the ground peppers and half the rest of the ingredients in a metal sauce pan. Since I had failed to read the recipe carefully, I did not have white vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar.
The recipe says bring to a boil slowly. I set the dial at 4 on a gas stove. The peppers took over an hour to boil. Use that as your guide. It will take a while to boil this mixture if you set the stove at medium heat.
When it came time to add the pectin, more winging it prevailed. I don't advocate winging it in baking and canning, however, you just have to go with what you  have sometimes. The recipe called for one bottle (doesn't say what size) of liquid pectin. The powdered pectin container said use six tablespoons of pectin in your traditional jelly recipe. Since this wasn't my traditional jelly recipe I just had to go with the six tablespoons and hope that it would work. Warning, you need to stir powdered pectin into the jelly, not just dump it in and hope it will incorporate. When I was pouring the jelly into the hot jars, I discovered several pectin lumps at the bottom of the saucepan. Hmmmm. The jelly seemed to be somewhat, not super, jelled.
The end product was a wonderful combination of sweet and hot. The cookbook says to serve with meats (the funeral meats?). You could also serve it spread on a cracker topped with cheddar cheese or cream cheese as an hors d'oeurve.

Pepper Jelly

6 medium-size green peppers, cored, seeded and ground
5 long yellow sweet peppers, (Use cubanelle.)
8 hot green peppers (such as cayenne or jalapeno peppers.)
1 onion, ground
9 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 bottle liquid fruit pectin (or 6 tablespoons of powdered fruit pectin)
green food coloring (optional)

1. Place the peppers, onion, sugar, vinegar and lemon juice in a kettle. Bring to a boil slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
2. Boil five minutes. Stir in the pectin and food coloring if desired. Let stand five minutes, skim, stir and pour into hot sterilized jars. Top with two thin layers of paraffin wax. Cool, cover, and store in a cool dark, dry place. Makes about one dozen half pint jars. 


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