My first jelly. Hooray! And (for better or worse) another example of how an “oops” can become a win. I set out to make Hot Pepper Jelly and (eventually) ended up with a delicious jelly AND a tasty syrup.
This all began with the Food in Jars online Mastery Challenge. Every month challenge participants make a new kind of preserve—January was marmalade and February salt-curing. Hot Pepper Jelly was my March pick.
My inspiration for this was the classic cream cheese and hot pepper jelly appetizer, served at a recent party. Creamy, sweet and spicy, I kept going back for more!
I started out on the internet looking for a recipe that was lower in sugar and ended up at The View from Great Island. I had all the ingredients including a jar of a different low/no sugar pectin than she used. But I figured since it was a low sugar recipe it would be okay.
Famous last words.
Turns out that Sure-Jell and Ball low/no-sugar pectins need to have ingredients added in a different order (see Chickens in the Road for more detail.) Who would have thought?
And so, after cooking, and water bath canning, my jelly remained a syrup. Though the flavor was outstanding.
But all was not lost…
How I remade the jelly that didn’t set
My youngest (always a ray of sunshine) wandered by as I stood, dismayed, by the jars and suggested we use the syrup on egg rolls or crab Rangoon (which we did—yum!). But I still wanted my jelly.
So, I left two jars as syrup and decided to try reprocessing the rest. Based partly on Food in Jars instructions for fixing jam and partly on general reading, I took a couple tablespoons of Meyer lemon juice (to add pectin) and another tablespoon of powdered pectin, opened the syrupy rejects and boiled it all together until thickened. Used the freezer test to check (drop a bit of jelly on a small plate that’s been in the freezer awhile and see if it thickens) that it really was working.
After reprocessing in a boiling water bath and letting cool I did indeed have jelly. And I made my own pepper jelly cream cheese spread for my next dinner party (an 8 ounce package of lite cream cheese, topped with a 4 ounce jar of hot pepper jelly)!
And the moral of the story is… Pectin is not pectin is not pectin. So, always read the instructions on your specific brand and adjust your recipe accordingly.
I should caution that (I hear) re-processing a fruit based jelly or jam can sometimes result in an overly cooked flavor. I consider myself lucky to have made the mistake on a hot pepper jelly!
- • 8 jalapeno peppers or 4 thai hot peppers (or combination—I used 4 jalapenos and 2 thai)
- • 12 oz assorted colorful bell peppers (weighed after trimming)
- • 2 cups white or cider vinegar (not homemade, which won’t have a standardized acidity level)
- • 3 cups sugar
- • 1 box (1.75 oz) no/low sugar needed pectin
- Wash the hot peppers and trim the stem end off, but do not de-seed. Process in a food processor until finely minced or chop very finely wearing kitchen gloves. (Hot pepper oils can sting, so avoid touching to skin or mucus membranes; fumes can also be irritating to breathe.) Add chopped peppers to a large saucepan.
- Wash bell peppers, removing ribs, stem and seeds. Process in batches in a food processor until finely minced. Add the bell peppers to the saucepan and top with the vinegar.
- Read the directions on your low or no sugar pectin and add sugar and pectin in the order specified by that brand. Currently for low/no sugar sure-jell: add the sugar to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the pot up to a full rolling boil (so it stays boiling if you stir), and then add the pectin. Boil, stirring, for one more minute. For Ball low/no sugar: add the pectin to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the pot up to a full rolling boil (so it stays boiling if you stir), and then add the sugar. Boil, stirring, for one more minute. And because the formulations are subject to change, always double check your package instructions.
- Ladle the hot liquid into clean jars, cap, and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes (see note) according to standard canning practices. Alternatively let cool, cap and refrigerate, and use up within a week or so.
- Makes about 4 cups.
- This assumes that you are already familiar with basic canning techniques. See the earlier links for more information