Tangy sweet, red pepper jelly. I.Love.It. Have you ever tried it? It is fantastic with soft mild white cheese, crackers, meats etc. I had never made jelly or jam of any sort in past. It was time to try.
Enter four big and beautiful, red peppers. I saw these in the store and was reminded of my aunts pepper jelly. It is delicious. I brought my new red jewels home and began researching how to make jelly. Thank you internet.
After much browsing and debating on ingredients, I decided to keep it very simple. After all, in food, simplicity is often best when you want the main ingredient to shine.
30 oz sweet red bell peppers seeded and chopped (approx 4 large peppers)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups white sugar
1 ounce pectin (I used Certo in powder form)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp butter
The first part of this process is to make the pepper ‘juice’ so we can make the jelly. So, wash your peppers well, remove seeds, stems and ribs. Dice them up and put into a saucepan.
Poor in apple cider vinegar and salt. Cook the mixture with the lid on, over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the peppers get soft then lower to a simmer for a few more minutes. If you want, you can take a masher and crush the peppers a little bit to get some more juice. Don’t mash them to a pulp though. We can use the pepper bits later.
In the meantime, wash the jar lids and boil them in a pot of water to sterilize them. Let them boil for about 5 minutes and then turn the heat low and cover to keep them hot.
Place your washed mason jars in the oven at 225F for at least 10 minutes to sterilize them. Don’t forget to put the spoons you are going to use in the final step of canning in there. They need to be sterilized too. Leave them in the oven until you are ready to fill them. I wasn’t sure how many jars I would need… better to over estimate then under!
Line a mesh strainer with dampened cheese cloth or clean, thin, lint free kitchen towel (I used a towel) and set it over a bowl. Spoon or poor the mixture into the strainer and let the juice drip into the bowl below. You may need to move the mixture around a bit to get the juice out. Try not to ‘squeeze’ the pepper bits. You should end up with 2 cups of liquid or a little more when it’s finished draining.
In a smaller bowl, mix the sugar and pectin together well with a spoon. This will ensure the pectin gets evenly distributed with the sugar and juice in the jelly making step.
In a saucepan, add 2 cups of the pepper juice and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sugar / pectin mixture and whisk regularly until the sugar has dissolved. Add in butter. This will keep the foaming down during the next step. A tip from my Aunt!
Over high heat, bring the mixture to a rapid boil for 1 full minute. Remove from heat. If it develops a skin over the top or any foam, skim it off the top with a spoon.
Poor the mixture into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 of space at the top. In another jar, spoon in the leftover red pepper bits.
Seal the jars with the sterilized lids and rings, then place into a hot water bath. Basically, fill a big pot and boil the water, carfully add in the jars (the water should cover the tops of the jars) and once the water returns to a full boil, let them go for 5 minutes. Remove from the hot water bath and let them sit on a hot pad to cool (don’t let the jars touch).
Once the jars have cooled, the lids should have popped down. If you press the middle of the lids and find they didn’t seal, redo the water bath stage.
So how much jelly did I get? I ended up with one full 2 cup capacity mason jar, as well as a little left over in a smaller jar, about 2/3 cup. I also ended up with one full jar of red pepper relish. That’s right! All those pepper bits we saved and jarred? Pepper relish! Why waste all that goodness? It’s great to use in your cooking or as a zippy condiment. If you want a chunkier relish, don’t mash the peppers when they are cooking in the vinegar.
How beautiful is that! A lovely jelly with such a gorgeous vermilion colour. But I’m sure there is just one question you really want answered; How does it taste?
Let’s just say, I’m putting it on everything lol. It’s got a great flavour from the apple cider vinegar and is well balanced with the sugar. It’s not too sweet, but it’s sweet enough. Love.
Try it in a grilled cheese sandwich….
Straight out of the jar….