This is one of the most versatile condiments you can make to add a combination of flavors that include spicy, sweet & sour, and savory. This spreadable jelly has bits of pepper suspended in it and is equally good with a variety of cheeses from cream cheese to aged Cheddar, as it is on hamburgers, grilled chicken, slathered on smoky ribs or pork chops, or paired with crab cakes.
Removing the seeds from the jalapeños significantly reduces the heat while retaining the flavor of the peppers. One pound of jalapeños may sound like a lot, but sugar also has a mitigating influence on the heat. I like to add some finely chopped hot peppers with their seeds at the end to give this jelly a little snap. By the way, the heat of the peppers is also reduced in proportion to the length of time you cook them. Adding some hot peppers at the end retains their innate intensity. Increasing the number of peppers used with their seeds will add more zip. You can vary the flecks of color in the jam by adding a green, red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, or diversify the flavor by adding garlic, onions, red or green tomatoes, herbs, or a variety of other hot peppers such as Habañero, Serrano, Cayenne, or Scotch Bonnet. If you have a death wish you might like to add a Bhut Jolokia Pepper, a.k.a. Ghost Pepper.
1 lb Jalapeño peppers, stemmed, remove seeds and ribs
2 Jalapeño peppers (reserved from the original lb), stemmed, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, remove seeds and ribs
6 cups sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups apple cider
9 Tbsp powdered pectin (Ball brand)
Prepare the peppers by cutting out the seeds and ribs.
Place in a food processer with a cup of vinegar. Run the machine until it is reduced to very small pieces—not quite a puree. It will be foamy so you will need to use a spoon to check the size of the pieces.
Finely chop 2 Jalapeños, and reserve.
Pour the pepper mixture into a saucepan along with the sugar, remaining vinegar, and 1 cup of cider. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Measure the pectin into a small bowl and stir the remaining cider into it until dissolved. Add the dissolved pectin and the reserved Jalapeños to the jelly. Stir until well combined and boil for 1 minute.
Skim foam from the surface. I used Ball powdered pectin for this jelly. Different brands produce different results, so it is useful to get in the habit of using the same brand for consistent results. This brand of powdered pectin comes out to 1 tablespoon per half-pint of jelly.
Pour the jelly into sterilized half-pint Mason jars leaving ⅛ inch headroom.
Wipe the tops of the jars with a paper towel, put on the lids, and screw on the rings just firmly enough to hold them in place. The air inside the jars needs to vent to ensure a tight seal.
Process the jars for 10 minutes, counting from the time the water returns to a boil. Remove the jars from the canning kettle to cool. You will hear the lids click as they seal. After the jars have cooled check for a proper seal by pressing down on the lids. A secure lid is concave and will not spring back. If a jar has not sealed properly, just put it in your refrigerator and eat that one first.
Remove the rings before storing them. Water can get trapped under the ring and cause it to rust. Allow 24 hours for the jelly to set. Refrigerate jelly after opening. A jar of Jalapeño Jelly makes a great gift! Put a ring on it before giving it away.