My parents had an abundance of jalapenos in their garden this year. Since my husband was down in Las Vegas for a book signing last week, they sent him back with several pounds from their wickedly spicy harvest. I used about 3/4 pound to make homemade jalapeno jelly — something I’ve been wanting to try out for a while.
This recipe comes from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving because the most important thing I learned in my master food preserver training last year is to always use a current, USDA-approved recipe whenever food preservation is involved.
This recipe yields about 5 half-pints. You’ll need 3/4 pounds of jalapeno peppers (either red or green will do), 2 cups of cider vinegar, 6 cups of sugar and 2 pouches of liquid pectin. Use these ingredients exactly as prescribed — without substitutions — or else the pH of your jelly will be off and it will not preserve correctly.
For canning equipment, you will need a large stock pot with cover, 5 half-pint jars with rings and new lids, a basket to hold your jars, jar-grabber tongs, a magnetic lid grabber, a tool to measure headspace and a funnel. You can pick up all of these special canning tools for about $20 at most major grocery stores. When I first learned to can, I bought this Ball Canning Discovery Kit and 4-piece utensil set.
Before you begin the jelly, sterlize all of your equipment in hot, soapy water. Place the empty jars in the basket inside the large stockpot, leaving the rings and lids to float on the side. Fill the pot with water, allowing to cover the jars by at least one inch. Bring to a continuous boil on the stovetop while you prepare the jelly.
Wash and drain the peppers. Carefully remove the stems and seeds. When handling the peppers, be sure to wear either latex gloves or plastic sandwich bags on your hands. Otherwise you’ll end up with “hot hands,” and the feeling will last for days. This happened to me last year when I made salsa.
Purée the peppers with 1 cup of cider vinegar in a food processor or blender. Combine the purée, the remainder of the vinegar and the sugar in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Be very careful not to let your mixure boil over. This also happened to me, and you’ll end up with a huge, sticky mess.
Stir in the liquid pectin, return to a boil and boil for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Remove one jar, ring and lid from the water bath at a time, using the tongs and magnetic tools. Ladle the hot jelly into the jar, using the funnel at the mouth of the jar so you don’t spill the jelly everywhere. Leave 1/4-inch headspace. Carefully wipe the jar’s rim with a paper towel and apply the lid. Seal with a ring. Repeat until all of the jars are full.
Make sure there is at least 1-inch of water covering the jars in the stockpot. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. If you live above 1,000 feet elevation, add 5 minutes to your processing time for each 1,000 feet. After your jars have processed, turn off the heat and allow to sit in the pot for another 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the pot and allow to cool on your countertop for 12-24 hours.
During this time, the jars should seal. You may hear a pop when this happens. To make sure they have sealed correctly, press on the center of the lid. If it’s sealed correctly, the lid will not pop up after pressed. If any jars have not sealed, refrigerate immediately and consume within 10 days. Sealed jars may be stored at room temperature for up to one year. I remove the rings before storage before it is easier to tell if the food has spoiled (the lid will come off rather than re-seal itself).
This jelly is great served on a cracker with a spread of cream cheese to counteract the spiciness. We are also planning to try it with chilled, cooked shrimp, as an alternative to cocktail sauce.
A jar of this colorful jelly also makes an excellent hostess gift.