Sep
16
2010

  I Love My Pepper Jelly!

Wow, why haven't I been making my own pepper jelly all my life? That's a rhetorical question, since I know why-- until this year, I've never had so many peppers I couldn't eat them all. But this year, I've got a bumper crop, and this afternoon, I made jelly.

I've enjoyed savory jellies for years now, but I would pick up a jar or two from a vendor at some sort of wine or food festival, and that would be that. But I have so many jalepenos this year, the thought popped into my head that maybe I have enough to make my own jelly. Guess what? It doesn't take that many peppers to make jelly.

For my first batch of 6 half-pints, I used 2 red bell peppers and probably about 9 or 10 jalepenos, all from my garden. And six cups of sugar. I had no idea that jelly required so much sugar, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. I stopped eating regular jelly years ago, it just became too sweet for my taste, so now I just go with butter and salt on my bread. But I guess the savory jellies that I like (I put a dollop atop my cheese sometimes when I have cheese & crackers, or as a spread on a meat sandwich) are just as sweet, but the spicy flavors distract me from the sweetness (unlike say grape or strawberry jelly).

But oh my, my lovely pepper jelly. I had a little extra after filling the jelly jars, and have been eating it with crackers all evening. I'll never pay $8 for a tiny jar of pepper jelly again. And I suppose it's probably just as easy to make the other savory jellies, too. Onion, garlic, rosemary, etc. I found the recipe for this one online, it was by Paula Deen. But I modified it to use a greater ratio of jalepeno to bell pepper, since that more closely resembled what ingredients I have to preserve. If I make it again, it will be even more heavily skewed to jalepeno, since I only have one red pepper left, and many jalepenos. The next batch I think I'll use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. Although if I make a whole 'nother batch, I'll have 6 pints of jelly on hand. That's quite a bit, I might have to give some as gifts.

I might not make any more (and keep my current 3 pints for my own use. . .) and instead dehydrate the peppers. I usually use the stored jalepenos when I make chili in the winter months, and dehydrated peppers should be well-suited to that sort of use, where they'll be cooked in liquid for several hours. I currently have a bag of frozen jalepenos that I processed last weekend. But I'm trying to steer away from adding more stuff to the freezer as hunting season approaches. I am hopeful that T will fill our freezer with venison in a few months.

I do a pretty good job of using up leftovers I keep in the refrigerator in subsequent meals, but I haven't been doing as well using up what I put in the freezer. I think I might need to keep a list. I open the fridge enough to get water or other cold drinks that I think its contents embed themselves in my subconscious, so I remember what's in there when it's time to prepare a meal. But I'm not in the freezer nearly as often, and I forget what's in there. I think I might try to start keeping a list on a sheet of paper on the outside of the freezer, so I can glance at that when I'm planning meals. Managing defrosting is the biggest challenge, I really have to plan ahead.