The jalapeño plant is holding its own in a jungle of grape tomatoes, bell peppers, and tomatillos. Even caged, the plants around it spread so much they lay over it, and most of the time I have to go under the deck to reach the spicy little gems. The plant is about three feet tall and has been a prolific producer. Every time I glance at it, I see more little peppers sprouting or flowers in bloom, and we've had them overflowing in the kitchen. At first we tried to encourage more production, but now we think we have enough jalapeños to last us until next summer, so we've left the remaining peppers on the plant to encourage them to turn red, which is the first step in making chipotles. We looked into making our own chipotles, but once we learned the process takes several days of smoking and tending, we decided to continue buying them and freeze the rest of the jalapeño harvest. Supposedly there are short cuts, such as using a dehydrator prior to smoking, so we might give that a go if we get enough red peppers before the first frost.
Jalapeños, like any other chile pepper, has a range of heat based on the Scovill scale, and supposedly you can roughly determine the amount of heat the pepper has based on its appearance, though this method is very imprecise. Green jalapeños have less heat than red, and peppers with scars have more heat. The more scars, the higher the Scovill Heat Units (SHU).
For some reason our jalapeños have a real kick this year, more so than in the past. Upon first glance, the 12 ounces of jalapeños called for in the recipe may not seem like a lot, but these peppers don't weigh much, and after I weighed them out we had 25 spicy green jalapeños. To keep the jalapeno jelly on the mild side, I did not add any of the middle membrane, and it still had a slow burn with a bit of tingle. If you want to bring up the heat a bit, put in a few of the membranes when you run the peppers through the food processor.
The recipe makes enough for 5 or 6 half-pint jars of jelly, though the last jar may not be completely full. If it has too much headspace, more than 1/4-inch (0.5 cm), do not try processing as it will not seal properly. Put it directly in the refrigerator and use within a week or so.
This jelly recipe has an adequate acid level to make it safe for boiling water canning. Before making the jelly or preserving any type of food, take time to read about the boiling water canning method and check out the resources mentioned in the post, including the list of canning cookbooks, especially Canning 101.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we've grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. Gay of A Scientist in the Kitchen is our host for this round, so be sure to visit her blog for more information about submitting your post. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page.
- blender or food processor
- 8-quart deep stainless steel sauce pan
- wooden spoon
- stainless steel spoon, cold
- 6 jelly jars (1/2 pint size)
- lids and bands
- lid wand
- jar lifter
- plastic spatula
- 12 ounces jalapeño peppers (stemmed, seeded, and deveined)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar (divided)
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- 6 ounces liquid pectin (each 3 ounces/85 mL)
- a couple drops of green food coloring (optional, I don’t do it)
Prepare the Jars
- Sterilize jars, rings, and lids according to the instructions in Home Canning (Boiling Water Method). Keep the jars in the canning pot and the lids and bands in the 3-quart pot with hot, not boiling, water.
Cook the Jelly
- In the blender or food processor, puree the peppers with 1 cup (250 mL) of the cider vinegar until smooth.
- In the large stainless sauce pan, add the pepper puree, sugar, and the remaining 1 cup (250 mL) of cider vinegar. Stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, and continue boiling while stirring for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the pectin and food coloring (if desired). Boil hard, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off the foam.
Process the Jelly
- Quickly pour the hot jelly into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) headspace. Wipe the rims clean.
- Center the lids on the jars and screw the bands down, just until your feel resistance. The bands should be fingertip tight, not too tight.
- Place jars in the canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Cover and bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the canner lid and wait 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars and allow them to cool completely. The lids should pop as they seal. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to 1 year. If the lids do not seal, then you must reprocess or store in the refrigerator and use within a few days for safety.