For years, jalapeno jelly has been a holiday habit at our home. At first, we were introduced to jars of jalapeno jelly while visiting Virginia City, Nevada. Although we usually bought a jar or two for ourselves, we quickly found out that jalapeno jelly saved time. When we didn’t have time to make a potluck dish or appetizer, we simply bought a brick of plain cream cheese and crackers. Then we would pile a jar of jalapeno jelly over the cream cheese and surround it with crackers. The unexpected sweetness of the jelly, paired with the cream cheese and salty crackers, made it a hit. By the end of the party, don’t expect any leftovers.
That mom-and-pop store in Virginia City went out of business, so this year, I made my own jalapeno jelly. My husband and I wanted a sweet and spicy version. The jalapeno jelly that we purchased in the past was meant for the masses. I admit they were bland, and they didn’t allow any heat. By allowing myself to experiment, I came up with the perfect jalapeno jelly product for our household. Since jalapeno jelly can be quite a treat, these jars may or may not make it to the holidays.
Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno Jelly
32 jalapeno peppers
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cider vinegar, divided
6 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon pepper flakes
2 (3-ounce) envelopes liquid pectin
3-4 drops green food coloring
- Wear gloves before handling the jalapenos, and skip the temptation to rub your eyes when you handle these peppers. If you don’t want heat in this jalapeno jelly, make sure to remove all ribs and seeds. Don’t forget to remove the stems. For more heat, I picked jalapenos with wrinkled skins (a local produce guy affectionately calls these “stretch marks.”) I experimented and removed the ribs and stems from 20 jalapenos. I chose 12 more jalapenos, but left the ribs and seeds intact to change the taste of the jelly. Remember that it is the ribs and seeds that bring heat to these peppers.
- In a food processor or blender, add one cup cider vinegar to the 32 jalapenos and puree.
- In a saucepan, combine puree, remaining vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Stir constantly.
- Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil as you stir. Boil hard for 1 minute before removing saucepan from heat.
- Skim foam. If desired, stir in food coloring.
- Ladle hot jalapeno jelly into hot jars. Leave 1/4-inch headspace. Seal and process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
- I use different jar sizes. With this recipe, I made 7 (4-ounce) jars and 3 (12-ounce) jars of jelly.
- Serve as an appetizer by pouring jalapeno jelly over a brick of cream cheese. Serve with Wheat Thins or Triscuits. I’ve also used jalapeno jelly as a glaze for ham and other meats. Or added it to salad dressing for a different flavor.