Pepper Jelly is the queen of all condiments. It is as versatile as it is flavorful. It can stand alone as an appetizer or complement other flavors as glaze, spread, or syrup.
Unfortunately, homemade pepper jelly is A LOT of work. And the complexity of the recipe is jarring! Ensuring sterile preservation requires a water bath canning technique and there is some serious prep work involved. Making your own pepper jelly is absolutely a commitment. But I promise, you CAN do it and it will be worth the effort.
Last weekend, a friend catered and hosted a party for more than 100 guests. He requested a couple jars of my homemade pepper jelly to serve over a block of cream cheese with crackers (my go-to appetizer). The sweet, spicy, and savory flavor combination is always a crowd favorite and this party was no exception. My pepper jelly was so popular that the host had to hide the extra jars from the guests. He may have been a little annoyed, but I was flattered! I’m still relishing in compliments and requests for the recipe!
- Water bath canner. AKA a big pot of boiling water.
- Jars, lids, and bands (You can reuse jars and bands but always start with new lids)
- Canning kit with Jar Lifter, Home Canning Funnel, Bubble Freer and Headspace Tool. (I got mine on Amazon)
- Wooden spoon
- Sharp knife (and/or a food processor if you’re lazy as I am)
- Optional-disposable plastic or rubber gloves.
Hot peppers can burn your skin and eyes. If you don’t use gloves, be sure to wash your hands and nails with soap and water after handling.
- 3 tablespoons fruit pectin
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon butter
- 5 cups sugar measured into a separate bowl
- 4 cups of fresh peppers
Most recipes call for 2 red bell peppers, 2 green bell peppers, and 16-20 jalapeños. I think there is room for improvisation. I like it on the spicy side so I’ll use equal parts HOT (Hungarian Wax, Anaheim Chili, Cayenne, Poblano and Jalapeños) and sweet bell peppers. Or whatever I can find in my garden. Sometimes I’ll replace the sweet peppers with peaches if I’m feeling crazy.
- Fill the Water Bath Canner (AKA a big pot) half-full with water. Cover and bring water to a simmer and continue to prep.
- Sterilize the jars, lids, and screw bands in hot soapy water and thoroughly rinse with warm water. Or if you’re lazy run them through the dishwasher. .
- SWEET pepper prep: hold the whole pepper upright (stem up) on a cutting surface. With a sharp knife, slice the pepper as close to the stem as possible from top to bottom into large, flat pieces. Then chop the flat pieces up or throw them in the food processor. Discard the stem and seeds.
- HOT pepper prep: place the pepper on its side on a cutting surface then cut off the stem. Then cut the pepper in half from top to bottom. Starting with one pepper half, slide the tip of a small knife under the attached seeds and membranes to cut them out. If any seeds remain, tap lightly on the pepper until the seeds fall out or leave the seeds to add an extra kick. Then finely chop them all up.
- Combine prepared peppers, vinegar, pectin, and butter in a saucepan. On high heat, bring mixture to a rolling boil stirring constantly.
- Stir in sugar and continue stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to return to full rolling boil. Maintain the rolling boil for exactly 1 minute still stirring constantly then remove from heat.
- Ladle immediately into prepared jars. Fill the jars within 1/4 inch of the top.
- Wipe the jar rims with the headspace tool, center the lid on the jar, then apply the band and adjust until fit is fingertip-tight.
- Place the jars in the simmering water bath. Make sure 1-2 inches of water covers the jars.
- Cover the water bath and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Process for 10 minutes then shut off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars to rest in the water bath canner for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from canner then set them upright on a towel. Leave the jars undisturbed for at least 12 hours.
- Make sure the lids are sealed. There should be no flex when the center is pressed. If a lid fails to seal within 24 hours, refrigerate immediately.
- Wipe down jars and lids and prepare for storage. Don’t forget to label!
- Store your pepper jelly in a cool, dry, dark place for up to for up 18 months.
Pictures and recipe are my own.