Botanically, peppers belong to the Solanaceae family and genus Capsicum. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin antioxidants they have. Hot peppers are a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients. They come in many varieties and grow easily from seed. Plants are readily available at local garden centers too. Jalapeño peppers are among the most popular in home gardens and grow best in hot and dry conditions. Peppers are easy-to-grow and bugs tend to keep away from them, so prepare yourself for a pepper bounty!

Once you've exhausted the usual recipes for sweet and hot peppers in salads, soups, stir fry's, peppers and eggs, and stuffed peppers - you may find yourself still looking for other creative ways to use up your hot peppers, especially since you can only eat so many.

Hot peppers can be smoked into flavorful chipotle or ground into zesty homemade pepper spices. Hot peppers add the crowning touch to salsa and are the star in hot sauce. Not everyone is a fan of the hot stuff, though. Canning always works wonders for preserving your harvest. Making it into sweet jelly helps tame some of the flames.

This is our second year for making hot pepper jelly. Unlike what you may think, pepper jelly is not just for hot pepper lovers - it's a condiment that most everyone likes once they've tasted it. We use citric acid instead of vinegar, which imparts an undesirable taste.

Homemade pepper jelly makes a tasty topping for everyday meals like fish, pork or chicken. One of our favorite uses is to spread it on fresh baked cornbread or corn muffins. We prefer not to add any food coloring - why do that? The natural color is just as appealing with the pepper bits suspended in the glistening jelly.

The recipe for making hot pepper jelly is simple, and as with all home canning - to be food safe - familiarize yourself with the USDA guidelines for canning jams and jellies.

Yields: 84 ounces

(21, 4-oz jars; OR 9, 8-oz jars and 1, 12-oz jar; OR 10, 8-oz jars and 1, 4-oz jar)

You will need a boiling water canner, food processor, canning jars and lids, jar lifter tongs, a ladle, and jar funnel.

Ingredients

3 cups minced Peppers- any mix you want. This year we used all Jalapeños (both green and ripe red), but in the past we've added Serrano Chili peppers, Jamaican Hot Chocolate and other hot pepper varieties

20 ounces apple juice

12 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon Citric Acid powder

2 pouches CERTO liquid fruit Pectin

Putting it all together

Wear plastic gloves while handling the hot peppers

  • Wash and sterilize your jelly jars, lids and rims in boiling water for 5 minutes and set aside
  • Fill your canner or large pot with water and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until you are ready, keeping the lid on to avoid evaporation
  • Wash peppers. Cut away seeds and stems, saving some of the seeds
  • Place pepper pieces into a blender or food processor. Pulse until finely minced but not pureed.
  • Add the minced peppers, juice, sugar and citric acid to a saucepan (not the pectin yet). And, if you want to make your pepper jelly even hotter, include some of the seeds.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, frequently stirring
  • Stir in the pectin, bring back to a full boil, then turn off the heat. Don't worry about skimming off any foam that may form.
  • Fill sterilized jars, allowing 1/8-inch head-space
  • Put on the 2-piece lids and process as USDA recommends for your altitude. In New Jersey, we process in a boiling water canner for approximately 5-10 minutes
  • Remove and set undisturbed to cool overnight. Check that the lids pop to ensure an airtight seal. Store any unpopped jars in refrigerator.
  • Label or decorate if giving as a gift from your kitchen
Happy Gardening - Enjoy Preserving Your Harvest!
Photos Copyright ©2013 Wind. All rights reserved.