Monday, November 23, 2015

Garden Fresh Jalapeño Jelly

Posted by Devin

As many of you know, I am an avid gardener. We did not plant a winter garden this year as we need to refill our bed and get it ready for spring planting, but we still have a few things that are alive and producing right now. The foremost of these are our pepper plants. We are getting lots of bell peppers and TONS of jalapenos right now. Like, a gigantic bowl full every week. Check out Connor with one week's harvest.

We have always been fortunate enough to have bountiful productions from our garden but I have never know how to do the second essential step to gardening: canning. It intimidated me and frankly I had just never done it nor knew anything about it. I finally decided with all of these jalapenos that it was time to make the most of our harvest and find a way to jar it and make it last. I absolutely love jalapeno jelly so I made a resolve to start there (I was told jams and jellies are a great place for the novice canner to begin, as well). 

Have you ever tried jalapeno jelly? It is delicious. It's great on toast and cornbread, a wonderful garnish for Mexican food such as taquitos and flautas, and just divine poured over cream cheese and scooped up with Wheat Thins. Mmmmm... this is making my mouth water. Anyways, if you have jalapenos growing out your ears or just want to try a new and fun recipe, I highly recommend it. Here's what you need:

3/4 lb jalapenos
6 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 packets liquid pectin (6 oz.)

For Canning:
8 - 8 oz. jelly jars with lids OR 16 - 4 oz. jelly jars with lids
Waterbath canner
Canning tools - canning funnel, jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter

Making The Jelly

1. Remove the stems and seeds from your jalapenos. This can be a lengthy process so I like to do it the day before and have my jalapenos all ready to go on jelly day. Measure out 3/4 lb of your jalapenos for your batch. (Note: If you are planning on making more than one batch of jelly, do not double the recipe. Rather, do one batch at a time in assembly-line fashion. The jelly will not set right if you make larger batches.)

2. Puree the jalapenos with 1 cup of your apple cider vinegar in a food processor.

3. Pour the jalapenos, sugar, and 1 more cup of the cider vinegar into a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the 2 packets of liquid pectin and return to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute and remove from heat.

Your jelly is now hot and ready to be jarred. Easy-peasy, right? On to the canning process.

Canning The Jelly

Before we begin, let's talk a little bit about your setup. When you can your jelly you are going to need your jelly and your jars and your lids and your waterbath canner to all be hot and ready to go at the same time. My good friend Kathy gave me some great tips on how to do this. Before you begin making your jelly, put your jars in the dishwasher with a heated dry so they are hot and ready when you are. Keep them in the dishwasher until your jelly is prepared. While you are making the jelly, put your lids (not the rings, just the lids) covered with water in a saucepan on simmer on your stove. Also, fill your waterbath canner 5-6 inches full of water on medium-high heat so the boiling process will be faster when you add your jars. With all of this happening at once, you should have a fairly busy stove that looks something like this.

All right, once your jelly is hot and finished being prepared, here are the steps to canning.

1. Take your warm jars out of the dishwasher and using a ladle and your large funnel, fill them up to about 1/4" from the top with your jelly.

2. Using a damp cloth, wipe off the rims of your jars for a clean surface for the lids. Remove your jar lids from the warm water with your magnetic lid lifter and place on each jar. Screw on the other piece of the jar lids to secure.

3. Place your jars into the waterbath canner and fill the rest of the way up to about 2 inches above the lids with hot tap water. Place the lid on the canner, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the jars from the waterbath canner with the jar lifter and place on a thick, folded-over bath towel on the counter. This will prevent your jars from bursting on the cool counter top. Let the jars completely cool and then store at room temperature until you are ready to eat.

And that's it! This photo above is 3 batches of jalapeno jelly. Altogether I have made 6 batches so I am all ready for Christmas gifts, woohoo! Good luck with your jelly and let me know how it goes!

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