Hot Pepper Jelly is one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures. I love to plop down on the couch, watch some trashy reality tv and munch out on wheat thins, cream cheese and Apple Valley Country Store hot pepper jelly. The best in all the land! It's sweet, perfectly spicy and pretty darn beautiful with its champagne-colored jelly and red bell peppers. I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own, so that I can avoid a mad (3-hour) dash to Hood River to pick up some more whenever I get the craving and so I can share my love with those around me. So, with Christmas lurking around the corner, I finally pushed up my sleeves and got to business.
I made two versions of the hot pepper jelly, one with natural pectin from apples & cranberries (the recipe is found here) and another that uses manufactured pectin (recipe found here). Both turned out awesome. Seriously, it was EASY! The only things I had trouble with were the cooking time (I had to cook mine about a 1/2 hour longer than the recipe called for) and knowing what to do after I put the lids on. Would they seal themselves? Did I need to process them? I waited and saw that most had sealed themselves, but there were still two that hadn't. I scoured the recipes for any hint of what to do and they both ended with something along the lines of, "pour contents into glass jars, put on lid, secure tightly." Okay....then what? THEN WHAT?!
After my little meltdown, I did the best thing I could think of. I called my Mom. Luckily, my Mom was with her Mom so I had a double dose of educated canners to help me out. It turns out that once you put the hot contents in and seal the lids you can turn them upside down for a few minutes and then back right side up. The hot liquid works to sanitize the lid and also seals it. Well, it was too late for that so I decided to put them in boiling water for a few minutes, which worked out perfectly.
As for the cost? The homemade pepper jelly factors out to be roughly $1.25/jar (if using new jars.) We lucked out and had a bunch of used jars, so we only needed to purchase lids which brought the price down to about $.35/jar. Pretty damn good, if you ask me.
Now that I'm pretty much a professional canner, I can't wait to really get my can-on. On the horizon, canned Halibut (the hubs is an Alaskan fisherman in addition to being an amazing teacher), ketchup, veggies, salsa...oh the possibilities. But first! I am dying to get my hands on Pie and Beer's Liana Krissoff's newest book:
|"Not Your Grandma's Canning Guide"|
So what about you? Are you still hesitant to dive into the life of a home canner or are you already a professional? Any tips for this newbie?