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Sep 8, 2005 07:11 AM

Hot Pepper Jelly revisited - Original Recipe

  • c

The original recipe along with my annotations, by popular demand, follows. The resulting jelly is thick, but easily spreadable. Notice that no exact measurements are made for the bell peppers or jalapenos. I do not know the reason, but liquid pectin and powdered pectin are NOT interchangeable. Good luck and buon appetito!

Jalapeno Jelly

from Jane Butel’s book “Hotter Than Hell”


3 large, very ripe red bell peppers, cored, seeded
6 to 8 jalapeno chiles, seeded (for a milder flavor, remove ribs too)
1½ cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
6½ cups sugar
6 ounces bottled liquid pectin

Using a food processor or food chopper, finely chop bell peppers and jalapenos (I did it by hand).

Turn chopped peppers and chiles into a large saucepan, stir in vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and peppers are clear.

Remove thickened pepper mixture from heat; cool about 10 minutes. Stir in pectin, return to heat, bring to a boil and boil about 2 minutes longer (at sea level) or until jelly sheets off the edge of a large metal spoon held at right angles above pan.

Remove from heat, skim off and discard foam (I didn’t see any foam to skim off) and immediately pour jelly equally into 5 or 6 hot, sterilized ½-pint jelly glasses (I filled jars half way each first, and then filled the completely next for even distribution of solids).

Cool, then seal with paraffin and cover with lids (I skipped the paraffin and sealed jars immediately).

Makes 2½ to 3 pints.

Note: Have an extra sterilized jelly jar ready

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  1. how are you sealing them? I'm not too familiar with canning... do you need to do it in a pot of water? Or can you just close them up and throw them in the fridge? Will they keep doing that?

    11 Replies
    1. re: adamclyde

      Unselaed they will keep about 6 weeks or so. Properly sealed you can keep it for about a year or so.

      1. re: adamclyde

        We have a large stockpot that holds 8 jars, and their lids and rings. The jar volumes are 8 fluid ounces. I heated them in water, but never let the water get to a boil. Using tongs to remove the jars, lids and rings, I got them outta the hot water just before filling them. After filling the jars, the lids were tightly screwed on while holding the jars with several thicknesses of paper toweling. One can see the lids bulge slightly. As the jelly cools, the temperature reaches a point where the lids pop as they become concave. That's a good thing. It means the seal is tight.

        If you look at the recipe ingredients, you'll notice that there's quite a slug of vinegar in the list. Vinegar is a good preservative. I don't refrigerate the jelly, and I've never had any go bad. The last jar I open may be 6 months old, and it is still OK.

        1. re: ChiliDude

          That there is what you'd call a hot pack system...and since so few people can anymore (even my mama uses her freezer these days), canning pots with the metal basket to hold the jars come cheap at garage sales and thrift stores.

          If you are boiling tiny jelly jars, you can just put a layer of extra metal jar rings on the bottom of the boiling pot to protect the glass jars. The metal jar rings are reuseable, the flat top lids that they hold down are not reuseable.

          1. re: pitu

            how does putting the glass jars into the hot pot protect the jars? you can see I've never canned?!?

            You bring up another question though... could I just do this then freeze it? Would something like this freeze well? If so, would the only change be to not fill it as full as I would otherwise?

            1. re: adamclyde

              The purpose for heating the jars, lids and rings is to make them sterile, to kill any toxic organisms. It is advised that the water in which the jars are heated not reach boiling, but 180 degrees.

              One of my 7 jars did not pop, and as advised, is being used first. It is presently half full, and in the refrigerater.

              I'm no expert on this canning thing, I've only done it with hot pepper jelly twice before...and survived. My main objective is to find ways to use all the hot peppers (I prefer to call them chiles) that my very small garden produces.

              1. re: ChiliDude

                Don't know if you can freeze jelly -- sounds weird . . . you might want to post that as a separate topic. I guess it's possible...

                ChiliDude, I am taking notes on all your chile recipes -- I have one overactive habanero plant in a pot, with a dozen fireballs near ready and the thing is still putting out flowers and new fruit. THANK YOU!

                My family did a ton of canning every year -- tomatos, peaches, and apples sauce, a couple hundred quarts all together. The Ball jar company used to put out a booklet with all the info - I'm sure there's a million copies of it around, and maybe they are still putting it out. That's what to look at if anyone wants definative info on home canning of all kinds.

                We'd run the jars through a hot water rinse in the dishwasher, and boil the rings and tops. It is indeed a terrifically important step to sterilize them. It is absolutely possible to kill yourself if you don't do it right. Although maybe not with chile jam...

                1. re: pitu

                  great info guys. thanks. I've got 6 jalapeno plants that have a ton of yield on them. Am planning on letting most ripen to dark red then smoking them for chipotles; however, I think I'll keep a third and do some of this pepper jelly, as well as some mexican jalapenos en escabeche.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    oooo homemade chipotles?! there's a monstrous bounty of jalepenos at my co-op right now. but I don't have a smoker, just a regular grill.
                    have you done it before? tell me more, por favor!

                  2. re: pitu

                    The Ball Co. outta Muncie, IN no longer owns the jar manufacturing company.

                    Please do not consider me an expert on the subject of canning. I'm a city boy who learns this stuff by trial and error. I grew up in the Chicago area, and have a degree in Dairy Science. Go figure!

                    1. re: ChiliDude

                      You can still get the Ball Blue book, I bought one this year at Agway for about $8, it looks brand new; the only date in it says first published in 1909. It's published in Muncie IN so I guess the new company just kept putting it out.
                      After I bought it, I realized I also have a book I got from Rodale, back when they were more old- fashioned; it's called Stocking Up III, and had been recommended to me back in the 80s, when I still dreamed of staying home and making everything from scratch. It has lots more technical info. I just started playing around with canning this year, it's definitely easier than it sounds.

            2. re: ChiliDude

              "As the jelly cools, the temperature reaches a point where the lids pop as they become concave. That's a good thing. It means the seal is tight. "

              If the lids DON'T pop/become concave then you don't have a proper seal and you should eat that jar first!
              (That is, it would be unsafe to eat it later)

          2. I made this recipe this weekend to rave reviews from my husband and neighbours. I tend to think it's a bit too sweet though. Is there any way to reduce the amount of sugar (how low and still be good?), and also would you have to adjust the pectin? Any thoughts?

            4 Replies
            1. re: Tara9000

              I can only guess at by how much one could reduce the sugar. You could try using 5 cups of sugar instead of the amount given in the original recipe. If that's still too sweet for you reduce the amount to 4 cups.

              Don't adjust the pectin since it is the thickening agent.

              Good luck!

              1. re: Tara9000

                Pectin needs a certain amount of sugar to work, so do some research before you cut the sugar. Cutting the sugar could prevent your jam from setting. Most pectin containers warn against doing htis.


                I'll harvest about 150+ habs and 100 jalapenos and make lots of jelly. I use red bell peppers for my hab jelly and green for my jalapeno. I use a dozen or more hot peppers per batch, with seeds and stems removed. Better flavor, IMO.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Thanks for the replies ChilliDude and Hamster! I'll do some research. :)

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I FINALLY found my recipe. It is very similar to ChiliDude's.
                    I received it from an old co worker - it is his mom's recipe. This one is delicious and you can vary the amounts of the chili peppers depending on how hot you want it (or leave seeds in). Also, you can use red bell peppers and food coloring to make it red. I usually do 2 batches (one green, one red) and give as gifts and tell people to pour it over a block of cream cheese and serve with either tortilla chips or crackers. It disappears quickly!!

                    Hot Pepper Cocktail Jelly

                    2 C chopped green bell peppers
                    1/2 C chopped yellow chili peppers or green Serano peppers (can use jalapenos too)
                    1 C white vinegar
                    1/4 tsp. onion juice (I used to chop some onion, but in blender and use the juice, now I just use bottled onion extract that I came across somewhere)
                    4 C sugar
                    1/2 C strained, fresh lemon juice
                    1 bottle (6 oz) Certo
                    Green food coloring

                    Combine all peppers and vinegar in blender, blend until smooth. Pour into saucepan. Add onion juice and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice; boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add Certo and blend well. Add green food coloring until desired color is attained.
                    Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. *Place lid on top.

                    *The recipe calls for the use of paraffin, but since that method is no longer recommended, I just put them in a water bath for 10 minutes. Will keep indefinitely unopened.

                    Makes approx 4 cups.

                2. Yessss! Habanero Jelly! I make it every year.

                  1. Would pint jars be ok? State fair requires pints.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: msriverrat

                      Pint jars should work just fine as long as they are sterile.