Pepper Jelly has been an important part of Christmas for as long as I can remember. In the summer, Dad raised bell pepper and hot peppers in our garden, and come the fall he (and later we) would make pepper jelly — usually two or three cases of it — to give at Christmas. To say that family and friends looked forward to it is an understatement, and so did we. It was not unusual for Dad and myself to polish off a jar (along with a block of cream cheese and most of a box of Ritz crackers) “testing” it to be sure it was good.
Dad’s recipe has been semi-guarded for some time, but I have decided that now is the time to share it with the world lest it be lost. One of the things that has helped make this year a good Christmas for me is that I grew hot peppers (the drought was not kind to the bell peppers) and made a batch and have shared it with family and friends. It is good to continue some traditions, and so I share this one with you.
Large pourable container
Strainers (I use at least two, one medium one fine)
1 cup finely chopped hot peppers
1 cup finely chopped bell peppers
13 cups white sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar (use only real!)
Green food colouring
1 box Certo
Dad used, and I use, a mix of hot peppers. Usually about half a cup are home-grown jalapenos and the other half are home-grown small Thai peppers. This year, I used home-grown Thai, jalapeno, habanero, and one home-smoked jalapeno. It is not necessarily the heat, but the flavors that count. That is also why you need to be sure to use real apple cider vinegar and not the artificially flavored stuff that so many places try to pawn off. Always read the label…
Trust me: use food gloves while handling and chopping the hot peppers…
Prepare jelly jars and lids per directions. I run my jars through the dishwasher with heat-dry on, and it is an excellent sterilizer.
Put all ingredients except Certo into a large saucepan/stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil, cut off the stove, and let cool for 10 minutes. Strain into pourable container, add about three drops of food colouring and the packets of Certo. Stir well without adding a lot of air, then pour into the jelly jars. A uniform green colour lets you know that everything is well mixed. There is usually a bit left over, so pour into spare container to let set and serve as your “proof” batch for taste-testing. Seal. Dad could always get them to seal as is, but I never have so I bring a canner to the boil and can for about 10 minutes.