Being a massive fan of everything spicy, I find absolute delight in making spicy cuisine and dishes. You wouldn’t be able to imagine the joy on my face when I first discovered pepper jelly. It’s like everything I wanted–and more– in one jar and something I can make at home and keep for a long time.
You’ve heard of strawberry jams, peanut butter spreads, and cheese spreads, but all of them are sweet. What about those who love to kick up some spice? Don’t fret because I’ve got the perfect cracker-topping-slash-sauce-slash-meat glaze.
So buckle up as we discuss everything about the sweet and spicy decoction, the pepper jelly. We will tackle what pepper jelly is, how to make it, and what are the best things you can do with pepper jelly to get the most out of its wonderful flavors.
What is Pepper Jelly?
Pepper jelly is a preserve made from pepper, chili, sugar, salt, and vinegar. By definition, ‘preserve’ refers to preparing fruits as jelly for a transparent or translucent look and a soft, gel-like substance.
In this case, because peppers are also considered fruits, whether they be jalapenos or habaneros, they all qualify for making great pepper jelly ingredients.
It is believed that the first pepper jelly was made out of jalapenos in the 1970s and has been since then widely popular in the United States as an addition to everything. Be it a cracker spread, a salad dressing, or a dish garnish. Pepper jelly is a versatile dish that anybody can grab if looking for some spice.
So, what is red pepper jelly? Red pepper jelly is another name for pepper jelly to specify the use of red peppers together with either jalapeno or habanero chilies to make pepper jelly.
In the following sections, we will discuss how to make pepper jelly using these ingredients because pepper jelly is very easy to make with just pantry available ingredients.
Even with store-available pepper jellies, you can still make your version at home with just the right spice and taste that suits your palate.
How to Make Pepper Jelly
The secret to how to make pepper jelly lies in the peppers themselves. For this recipe, prepare two and ½ cups of finely sliced red bell peppers, one and ¼ cups of finely sliced green bell peppers, ¼ cup of finely chopped jalapenos 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, one package of powdered pectin, and 5 cups of white sugar.
Before anything else, I advise wearing gloves while chopping the peppers and preparing the pepper jelly. You wouldn’t want to accidentally rub that hand on your eyes and cry for the rest of the day, would you?
Grab your canning jars or glass jars to store the pepper jelly. Make sure to sterilize your jars in a hot water bath until it’s ready to use. Add them to a large saucepan over high heat, then mix the vinegar and pectin. The pectin serves as the ‘structure’ of the jelly, some kind of substance that traps the liquid and sets it to its form.
While in high heat, constantly mix the mixture until boiling point. Add in the sugar until it reaches another boil while continuously stirring. After a minute or so, remove the mixture from heat.
After removing any foam, transfer the jelly into the jars, carefully leaving ¼ inch empty. Cover securely with the lids, then process them into the water canners by submerging them into the hot water completely (make sure the lids are securely in place) for 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the canner, and let cool at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. Let them sit in the fridge for 12 hours before consuming or using.
What to Make with Pepper Jelly
Pepper jelly is a very versatile dish. You can do many things with pepper jelly to spice up any dish or snack. Here are some ideas on what to do with pepper jelly:
- Glaze meat with pepper jelly before grilling
- Glaze over pork tenderloin just before it finishes cooking
- Use it as a dip! My favorite is combining pepper jelly with cream cheese and serving it with crackers and even tortilla
- Glaze on baked ham
- Sauce for chicken wings
- Use a sandwich spread by mixing it with mayo at your desired ratio! Experiment with the ratio you want to get just enough creaminess and spiciness in one spread.
There are also so many things you can consume with pepper jelly. Some ideas on what to eat with pepper jelly are:
- Sweet and spicy baked chicken. Glaze your whole chicken with a mixture of butter and pepper jelly!
- Ice cream. Top your ice cream with pepper jelly and taste as the magic happens!
- Pepper jelly pork. Any kind of pork with pepper jelly glazing is a tale made in heaven.
- Salads. Why not go the spicy route for your salads and add pepper jelly as a dressing?
- Chips and crackers. Combined with cream cheese, pepper jelly is the perfect dip and sauce for a cracker appetizer.
Speaking of which, do you wonder what crackers are best served with cream cheese and pepper jelly?
I personally like wheat crackers and any slightly salted crackers! They bring out the best flavor of this part-sweet-part-spicy and extra creamy cracker that will surely blow your mind away.
Is Red Pepper Jelly Spicy?
So, considering all things, is red pepper jelly spicy? It depends on the number of chilies and the kind of chilies incorporated in the jelly.
Pepper jelly is mostly sweet with a hint of spice from the jalapeno or habanero peppers, but you can adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or fewer chilies as you like. Depending on your preference, it can range from mildly spicy to very spicy.
Does Pepper Jelly Go Bad?
If you’re wondering if pepper jelly goes bad, yes, it does! They’re just like any dish out there with shelf lives. According to the USDA, unopened jelly or jams can be kept for 12 months. However, opened jams and jellies should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed for six months.