1031 Spicy Pepper Jelly

I’ve got to warn you on this one: this recipe will make your house smell weird.  And, if you have a small kitchen and it’s a cold day, it’ll continue to smell weird for the rest of the day.  It was all worth it for three reasons.

First, we got rid of some of our damned banana peppers.  I intended to grow a few hot peppers this summer, but in the hubbub at the farmers’ market, I think a few plants were mislabeled as I ended up with about six banana peppers, two bell peppers, and one other pepper plant of a hotter variety.  As is the way of these things, the banana peppers were the most prolific plants in the garden – second only to the tiny cherry tomatoes – maybe Sweet 100s – that showed up on their own.  No joke, we’ve picked at least 15 pounds of banana peppers this summer.

Second, few things warm up the house more efficiently than four pots of boiling water: one for processing the jars, one for heating up the lids, one for making the jelly, and one for the tomato sauce I made with a few pounds of green tomatoes that ripened when I wasn’t looking.  I’m pretty sure this is a more efficient way to heat the house than our actual heater, in fact.

Third, we now have six half-pints and one pint of spicy-sweet pepper jelly to spread on toast or to use as a marinade or – well, I’m not sure what else we’ll do with it. I just know it’s tasty.

Hot and Sweet Pepper Jelly
Photo by Campobello Island

Recipe:
Hot Pepper Jelly adapted from Simply Loving Home, part of October’s Can Jam.  My only real modification was using banana peppers instead of jalapeños.

0621 Strawberry Jam, Two Ways

We’re not big jam eaters.  There, I said it.  We both enjoy a good jam, but we’re much more likely to dip our toast in a runny egg yolk than to top it with a sweet spread.  We’re still working through the strawberry-rhubarb jam that I made last year.  BUT when you suddenly find yourself in possession of twenty pounds of strawberries, there’s not much to be done except get your jam on.

In one sweaty afternoon, I made two batches of jam: Strawberry Balsamic and Strawberry Vanilla.  I have the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which I can’t recommend highly enough to newbie canners, and both of the batches are riffs on their basic, oh so basic, strawberry jam recipe.  I’m giving full quantities for the original recipe here, which the cookbook claims should yield 8 pints, but I halved the recipe, resulting in about 5 pints of jam.  I then made the half recipe a second time, so I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I split the recipe?  Except that I made two totally separate batches.  Whatever.  The full recipe, as I prepared it, is as follows.  And it should give you 8-10 pints.  If you make the whole thing.

Strawberry Jam
Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

7 cups granulated sugar
8 cups whole strawberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 1.75 oz package regular powdered fruit pectin

Clean and sterilize your canning jars, lids, and rings, and have your open water bath standing by.

Measure sugar into a bowl and set aside.  Wash, hull, and slice strawberries.  Add strawberries and lemon juice to a sauce pan.  Whisk in pectin until dissolved, then bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and skim off foam.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  If you don’t have enough jam to fill the final jar up to the top, don’t process it – set the jar aside for immediate enjoyment.  Place jars in open water bath and bring to a boil.  Process for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and leave jars in for another 5 minutes before removing.  Let jars cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.  You should hear the tell-tale plink of lids sealing – if any lids have not sealed, reprocess those jars or stick ’em in the fridge for prompt eating.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Strawberry-Balsamic Jam

Reduce lemon juice to 1 tbsp and add 3 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar.

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

Add half a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, to the strawberries.  Cook as directed, removing the bean before transferring jam to jars.

February Jam: Carrot Jam

Guess what I made?
Guess what I'm gonna make

The February Can Jam ingredient is carrots – a toughie because carrots lack the acidity for safe water-bath canning. Participants were advised to stick to published recipes and not make any changes to the acid to stuff ratios. So that was the first challenge.

Citrus stoplight

The second challenge was coming up with something to make that we would actually eat. I found lots of recipes for things like carrot cake jam, carrot chutney, and pickled carrots – all of which sounded interesting, but either called for other canned foods (why would I buy canned pineapple to make a jam?!) or weren’t things I could really picture us eating.

Shredded carrots and snacks

So I hit on carrot jam. My thought was that if we didn’t like the carrot jam as is, we could thin it with some vinegar to make a carrot slaw – along the lines of the broccoli slaw we had with fish the other week.

Carrot Jam!

And I think it worked! The resulting jam is sweet with a hint of spice – I ate some of it on toast yesterday, and would definitely eat this alongside a savory piece of fish or in a shrimp taco.  There’s no pectin in the recipe, so I didn’t expect the jam to set up like last month’s marmalade, but it is loose enough that I might keep these jars in the fridge just in case – which also means they’ll be handy for quick eating.


Carrot Jam
Based on a recipe found at wisegeek.com

4 cups grated carrots (approx 1.5 pounds whole carrots)
juice and zest of 1 lime, lemon, and orange
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coriander (maybe more)

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and simmer together until the carrots are suspended in a thick syrup, ~30-45 minutes.  Pack in sterile jars and process for 10 minutes in an open water bath, or just stick it in a big container in your fridge.  Good times!

January Jam: Honey Clementine Marmalade

Instead of talking about tonight’s dinner (Pizza Mia redux), I’d like to tell you about my marmalade.  Honey clementine marmalade, in fact.

Honey Clementine Marmalade

I signed up for Tigress’ Can Jam, thinking it would be a great opportunity to try some new recipes and get more confident with my canning.  This month’s ingredient was citrus – not anything even remotely local, but a fun place to start.  Tina suggested clementine, and I remembered this dessert, made for Carl several years ago on the eve of my birthday. After some digging around, I settled on this recipe, albeit with a few modifications.  I had intended to photograph the whole process, but as it happened, I started the marmalade Wednesday night, preparing the syrup and peeling the little clementines.  The whole bit needed to go in the fridge overnight, and I had good intentions of finishing it off yesterday – but then the end-of-week exhaustion hit, and I just couldn’t be bothered.  Everything pulled together tonight, though, and now there are three jars of sunny marmalade waiting for English muffins – perhaps another weekend project?

Honey Clementine Marmalade
Inspired by Confiture de Clémentine aux Epices from Serial Cooking

  • 6 clementines
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves
  • 2 tsp pectin (I used the Ball sugar free stuff)

Grate the zest of all of the clementines.  Juice three of the clementines, and peel the remaining three.  Remove as much of the pith as possible, then slice the segments in thirds.  In a saucepan, bring to boil 2 cups water and the sugar, reserving two tablespoons.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then cool and add to the clementine juice, segments, zest, and spices.  Cover and leave to rest overnight.

The following day, transfer the jam to a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Combine the pectin and the reserved sugar, then add to the jam.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved, then bring to a boil until the jam sets.

Transfer to sterilized jars and process 15 minutes in an open water bath.  Makes 3 half pints.