Saturday, October 11, 2008

Red pepper jelly

We have friends whose usual pre-dinner snack is a chunk of cream cheese covered with spicy red pepper jelly, served with crackers and a knife for spreading. There's something sort of retro about it, but it is delectable, and addictive! I asked them where they get their jelly, and of course they make it. Well. I can do that.

So last week at the farmer's market, I bought a pile of red peppers, and I finally, after several days of admiring how pretty they looked in a basket, set out to make some of my own!

I trimmed them and cut out most of the seeds, but I wasn't religious about it. My fingertips stung for about the next 15 hours -- if ever I make a bigger batch, I'd better wear gloves! I think I wound up with about 9 oz. of coarsely chopped peppers. I pretty much followed the recipe in the Ball book I've used lately, but I used the weird "crunchy" brand of pectin Jon got me at Whole Foods.

As the jelly was coming to a boil on the stove, I was standing there studying the directions that came with the pectin, and trying to decide how much to use since it's not really a standard kind . . . and the jelly boiled over. That's what you get for turning your back on the stove. I actually coped pretty well, and managed to clean it up and even finish the batch and heat processed it and all without getting injured or bursting into tears. Lucky for me Jon had just gotten home and washed about a million dishes to ease me through the rest of the project. Thank goodness.

The other night I finally cracked it out (Phantom was visiting!) and we were quite pleased with the results. I think I'm going to check and see if there are more peppers at the market tomorrow . . .

(Oh, and do you remember the peach jam debacle? the one of the lost directions? I found the directions this week -- tucked inside Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb, of course. Where else? Sigh.)


Phantom Scribbler said...

It really is delicious, though. I'm planning to hoard the jar you gave me and break it out someday when even Nutella won't cheer me up. (Yes, I just said that your hot pepper jelly is better than Nutella.)

I need to get that Ball book already. I'm sort of flying blind right now, and hoping to make up for my incompetencies with extra processing time.

Tall Kate said...

Wow, Phantom. That might be the biggest compliment I've *ever* had. And as I always tell Aaron, flattery gets you everywhere around here, baby. You can count on a jar of that stuff every time I make it. (That won't be till next year, though -- there weren't any more hot peppers at the farmer's market this morning, alas!)

You know, I wound up with an extra Ball book, sort of, because the canning kit I bought had a pretty extensive guide in it. Why don't you just borrow one or the other on extended loan and see if it's worth the price, or if you'll just get more comfortable with the processing after reading lots of recipes?