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Pepper Jelly Update: Anybody Got a Gas Mask I Can Borrow?

This entry is part of a series, Pepper Jelly Chronicles»

Orange Habañeros

We recently reported on the Underground’s latest exploits in kitchen coliseum, wherein we basically reinvented the staid and hackneyed red pepper jelly. As promised, we made other colors of pepper jelly than red this time…

For the orange pepper jelly, I had two orange bell peppers, four habañeros, and some very slightly zesty, red-orange peppers I bought at the farmers market over the weekend. The seller wasn’t sure of the type, though they look a lot like a sweet banana or pimento pepper. I actually think they’re a Mirasol variant, given their mild zing. I also had a very nice, light yellow bell pepper.

Since the smaller chiles were reddish-orange, I decided to add half the yellow bell to balance the color more towards bright orange. I set aside half of one of the orange bells. (I’ll use them later in fajitas or something.) I put in 50-50 sugar-sucralose, like before, for the sweetener, and cider vinegar for the acid.

The only bad moment was stripping down the habañero chiles. Four little, innocuous-looking balls of vegetable. Boy, do they pack a lot of spank in a little volume! I used gloves (hey, Momma didn’t raise but two fools, and I got three brothers), but by the time I had them halved and the seeds out I was really, really wishing I’d borrowed a gas mask. PJ was sitting in the other room and she complained something fierce until I got those biting little suckas under cover. The dogs ran to the back of the house and hid; I don’t know where the cats got off to. Chickens, the whole lot.



Fortunately I had a lot of zest-free pulp to dilute the habañero conflagration into. Processing the peppers into purée went smoothly, and soon I had the whole mix on the stove and boiling away. That’s when I missed the gas mask again, just a little bit. Lift the lid and hoo boy, you were in for a treat. Of sorts. I toughed it out and got the syrup mixed with pectin and put into jars. This batch was perfectly sized, filling six half-pints right to the top quarter-inch, with about one teaspoon left over for taste-testing.

After finishing the prep steps I could barely see, which accounts for getting too much taste-testing jelly on my tongue at one time. I know those tastebuds will grow back eventually; I’m not sure about the abused corneas. (Can’t they do transplants these days? Hmmm…) Anyway, I was convinced the liquid was still boiling, or else I’d gotten a spoonful of molten lava by mistake. But no, it’s merely a fairly stout jelly. (And the Burj Khalifa is a moderately tall structure.) It’ll be great in Jamaican dishes or as a novelty party appetizer, or as a way to burn holes in stainless steel plate.

I was worried after the jars were processed and cooled. The jelly wasn’t, well, jelled. Then I realized: This stuff must be self-heating, like small, glass-walled Chernobyl reactors or something. When I checked in the morning, though, the syrup had turned into a soft jelly, not as stiff as the red ones from before, but still jelled. PJ pointed out that maybe having a more mobile jelly would be nice for pouring over cream cheese. I mumbled that was fine, as long as it didn’t vaporize the cheese into the dairy analog of napalm. I pleaded ignorance when she asked me for clarification; she was skeptical, but then, I had my doubts about the safety of this material. At least it hasn’t eaten its way out of the jars (yet).

Orange Bells

Today I made green pepper jelly. This one was a real snap, with the recent experience base and only jalapeño chiles to deal with. (Green bells don’t count as hazardous materials, even to the U.S. Congress.) This sweet sauce came together smoothly, with only one exception: Foam. Man, that liquid really wanted to bubble up under heating! I fixed that, though; I added a tablespoon of butter and the foam quieted right down. Even adding pectin didn’t revive the froth. Once again, outstanding volume planning came through and six half-pints were filled to the ideal level and transferred to the boiling water pot. I licked the stir spoon to taste the mixture, and I must say (with all due modesty) that this stuff is emerald ambrosia.

Oh, it’s not merely jalapeño pepper jelly, of course! I cheated improvised a bit. I added some fresh mint in the purée. I put cardamom (half a teaspoon), allspice (about a teaspoon) and ground ginger (also a teaspoon) in at the end of the boiling step. Then I added a half-teaspoon of vanilla extract. (Be careful putting vanilla extract in near-boiling jelly! The alcohol boils off quickly, so the syrup spatters a bit.) A few quick stirs to incorporate the spices, and then into the jars.

The rest is history.

I used a bit of leftover tortilla to wipe out the cookpot, and it was phenomenal. (Trust me; it was.) I can hardly wait until the next party, when we can drag a couple jars of this green goodness out and get crazy…

(I dedicate this zesty post to my dad, who would have been 82 today. Happy Birthday, Dad! Hope your ambrosia’s as good as ours.)

Enjoy the (Ongoing Jelly Chronicles) Heat!

Entries in this series:
  1. Red Pepper Jelly Sunday
  2. Pepper Jelly Update: Anybody Got a Gas Mask I Can Borrow?
  3. Tag-Team Teaching in the Kitchen
  4. Lemon Ginger Marmalade, an Easy Spread to Make
  5. Yellow Inferno for Breakfast: Caribé-Habañero Pepper Jelly
  6. Lemony-Hot Jam, a Hybrid Spread With a Slow Burn
  7. Hatch Chiles and Lime, a Great Combo for Jam
  8. Jessica, Your Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly is Ready
  9. Hunting the Wild Prickly Pear in South Texas
  10. Prickly Pear Jelly Redux: Juice, Juice Everywhere…
  11. Charred Pineapple, Habañeros and Bourbon, a Great Jam Combo
  12. How to Push Prickly Pear Jelly Over the Top With Serrano Chiles
  13. Not Your Momma’s Marmalade
  14. A Jam That’s Just Plum Good…
  15. Peaches O’ Eight Jam, the Perfect Pirate Toast Topping
  16. Saint Basil’s Green; It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
  17. Pepper Jelly Redux: Apricot Jam, Extra-Zesty Habañero and Serrano Jellies
  18. Pepper Jelly Sweetened with Stevia: It’s a Hit!
  19. Gardens, Gators, and Green Pepper Jelly
  20. Do Hairless Peaches Make Great Jam? You Betcha…
  21. Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion Jam
  22. Cinnamon Plus Heat Equals Magic
  23. March Madness, With Mangos…
  24. StingJam, a New Variety of Pepper Jelly
  25. Butter and Scotch? Not Quite; But a Great Jelly Nonetheless…
  26. White Flesh Peach Zingjam, a Refreshing Topping
  27. More Summertime Fruit Pepper Jellies
  28. Holiday Marmalade with Habaneros and Prickly Pear Juice
  29. Pepper Jelly Makes a Great Christmas Present
  30. Cherry Season is Here, and Cherry Pepper Jellies are Great
  31. Pepper Jellies and the Manzano Chile
  32. Singapore Sling Pepper Jelly! Now You Can Drink Your Toast…
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