A few years ago my sister and her husband introduced me to a yummy snack—crackers with cream cheese and red pepper jelly. Yesterday afternoon I decided that it was high time I tried to make homemade red pepper jelly. My recipe filled 4 one cup jars but I left lots of headroom. Along the way I learned a few lessons.

Measurements have to be precise.

You really do have to sterilize your jars first and keep them warm as things move along quickly once you start heating the ingredients.

Don’t play with the jars once you’ve put the lids on or you can break the gel. One of the four jars of jelly is more of a thick syrup. Sometimes you can leave it and it will set eventually but I will probably use the one that didn’t gel as a glaze for roast chicken—so all is not lost. If you ever have a jelly that doesn’t gel don’t throw it out. You can salvage it by following the instructions from the National Center for Food Preservation website.

 

red pepper jelly

© 2008 Laurie Ann March
makes enough to fill 3 to 4 one cup jars

This jelly has the sweet flavors of red pepper combined with the heat of Tabasco Sauce. It is sweet and not overly spicy.
 

red pepper jelly with cream cheese

red pepper jelly with cream cheese

6 large sweet red peppers
3 cups granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin
4 1 cup canning jars with rings and seals

Wash the jars lids and seals. Make sure that you only use new seals. Preheat the oven to 225ºF. Set the jars in the oven to sterilize them and leave them there until ready to use. Make sure any tongs, ladles or spoons that you use have been sterilized as well.

Remove the stems, seeds and membrane from the red peppers. Coarsely chop the peppers and then pulse in a food processor or blended until finely minced. Place the peppers in a fine mesh strainer and place over a bowl to drain. Stir the peppers and press them against the sides of the strainer to release the juices.

When you have a cup of juice, place it in a pot. Turn the burner on high and add the sugar, Tabasco sauce and apple cider vinegar. Heat to boiling and stir occasionally. Once the mixture is boiling remove it from the heat and add the liquid pectin. Return the mixture to the heat and bring it back to the boil. When it reaches a full boil let it continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam as it will cloud the jelly—be careful as the mixture will be very hot.

Ladle the jelly into the jars from the oven leaving 1/4 inch headroom in each jar. Use a damp cloth to wipe the outer edges of the jars clean. Screw on the lids and rings. The heat from the jelly will help the jars seal.

Sit the jars on the counter for 24 hours and do not move or disturb them. The lids should not have any give. If they do then the seal didn’t take but you can still use it as it will keep in the fridge for one month.

Jelly is best stored in the fridge but can be kept in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. Once the seal is broken, store the jelly in the fridge for one month.

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