On the Table
Home grown peppers, cherries & organic apple cider! It’s Pepper Jelly Time!
One of my great joys is sharing the things I make or cook with friends and family (small get-togethers with both appetizers and drinks or a small dinner party, are right up my alley.) And I always try to have at least one thing on the table that has come from my garden or that I have made.
A lot of the things I make start out as desperate attempts to not waste the resources I have. I really hate to see my lovingly grown vegetables thrown into the compost pile at the end of the season just because I planted too much. And that is exactly how I happened on one of my most successful and coveted products, pepper jelly.
I have always planted my garden to make salsa and marinara sauce. A few years ago I started planting peppers- Jalapeno, Serrano and a few others- to round out the flavor of my salsa. It turned out they are pretty easy to grow. I started dehydrating and freezing them for use throughout the year but began to accumulate bags of dehydrated peppers in my freezer.
My copy of the Ball, Blue Book, Guide to Preserving, lives within easy reach in my kitchen and I really needed to do something with all the peppers I was stockpiling, so I started looking at pepper recipes and became intrigued with the pepper jelly. I use the Blue Book to guide me through making jelly, but I ended up finding the recipe for Jalapeno Pepper Jelly on SimplyRecipies. Now, my daughter and I are not big fans of jelly, we just don’t eat it, but pepper jelly is different- it is savory and wonderful with a French cream cheese on a cracker. Everywhere I go it is the hit of the food table and it is a complete and wonderful surprise for people who have never tasted it before!
Of course, I changed up the recipe- that goes without saying!
A great big “THANK YOU!” to my wonderful neighbor, Kathy, who supplies me with cherries from her place in The Dalles! The cherries makes all the difference, along with fresh pressed cider that we make in the fall and freeze.
So here is my coveted Pepper Jelly recipe! It makes 5 to 6 half pints. Enjoy!
5 C Fresh Pressed Cider
3 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C Dried Cherries (I have a mix of Bing, Rainier and Pie)
6 Dried, split peppers- Jalapeno or Serrano (for hotter jelly leave the seeds in)
31/4 C Sugar
1 Pkg Sure*Jell
Boil for 15 minutes the cider, vinegar, cherries and peppers- this really infuses the flavor of the cherries and the heat from the peppers. After the peppers and cherries become soft, strain mixture through a cheese cloth or sieve to clarify the juice and remove the peppers and cherries.
Put the juice back into the pan, chop the cherries and peppers into very small chunks and add back to the juice. Add sugar and bring to a boil. Turn the temperature down, but keep a rolling boil for another 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle in the Sure*Jell while stirring and bring back up to a hard boil for at least a minute (I usually let it go a little longer- until I feel it thicken while I am stirring.)
To properly test if it has jelled, place a plate in the freezer for a few minutes. When you are ready to test your jelly, spoon out a bit of the juice on to the cold plate; let it cool for a few minutes. If it is runny, continue to boil, if it wrinkles up, it is ready to put into jars.
Home grown peppers, home-grown cherries, organic, locally grown apple cider- it just does not get any better than this!