Homemade hot pepper jelly is one of my favourite gifts from the kitchen. Although, my family won’t let me give it all away, so I always have to make a double batch. It’s one of our favorite snacks too!
This is not your typical breakfast jam. Hot pepper jelly is sweet and spicy and pairs better with crackers and cheese than it does peanut butter and toast. This hot pepper jelly makes a great appetizer when combined with cheese – cream cheese, brie, Camembert, smoked cheddar, chevre, and so on.
Recipe for Hot Pepper Jelly
Hot Pepper Jelly – Sweet & Spicy Gift From the Kitchen
- 3/4 cup sweet peppers finely chopped blend of yellow, red and orange
- 1/4 cup dried apricots finely diced
- 2-4 hot peppers you decide
- 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 pouch liquid pectin
- No liquid pectin? Powder Pectin Substitute
- Peppers and apricots should be diced finely and evenly. Smaller pieces will look more decorative and will be less likely to float to surface of jar.
- Cut hot peppers into very small pieces. Keep some seeds for added heat.
- Combine peppers, apricots, vinegar and sugar in stainless steel (not aluminum) pot.
- Bring to full boil. Stirring constantly, boil hard for 1 minute.
- Add pectin and return to boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat. Stir and rest for 3-5 minutes to help evenly distribute peppers in jelly.
- Pour into hot jars leaving a ¼ inch (6 mm) headspace.
- Wipe rim with clean cloth and seal with hot sealing lid.
- Screw band on top and tighten finger tight.
- Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
- Remove jars. Cool undisturbed for 24 hours and check seal.
Yield 3-4 half pint (250 mL) jars or 8-9 quarter pint or (125 mL) jars
Option: According to the National Centre for Home Food Preservation, if you sterilize jars (boil for 10 minutes) before filling, hot water bath process half pint jars for 5 minutes instead of 10 minutes..
Tips for Making Hot Pepper Jelly
I often use this recipe in canning workshops, because it is an easy, small batch recipe that comes together quite quickly. Here are a few pointers that may help:
- Small, even chopped pieces look more decorative and will be less likely to float to surface of jar.
- Use liquid pectin for best results, if unavailable follow directions for Liquid Pectin Substitute.
- Use whatever type of hot pepper you have access to and adjust how many to use according to your preference. For example jalapeno peppers are milder than serrano which are milder than cayenne which are milder than habanero peppers. Any of them will work, they’ll just change the spicyness. You can even use a combination. If necessary, you could use dried peppers.
- The more seeds and inside ribs from the hot peppers you use, the spicier the jelly will be.
- You can use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar at 5% acetic acid, but flavour will vary.
- Trapped air inside cells of peppers and apricots will cause them to float to the surface of the jar. This isn’t a problem, it just means your jelly won’t have pretty coloured pieces throughout – they’ll all be at the top. To get them to spread out more evenly, cut them very small and let the cooked jelly cool slightly (3-5 minutes) before pouring into jars. Stir a few times during those 3-5 minutes, but don’t allow to cool totally. The jelly should still be quite hot when you pour it into the jars.
- I have made this hot pepper jelly using no sugar needed powdered pectin. The jelly becomes a little grainy and less clear than when using this version. While I often prefer reduced sugar jams and jellies, in this case, I recommend the full sugar version using liquid pectin. Not a big deal for this special treat.
- A large soup pot is all you need for the hot water bath. Simply line the bottom with a kitchen cloth or silicone trivet, cover jars with 1 inch water and boil.
- The hot water bath process will ensure a safe, tight seal, please don’t skip this step! Especially if giving this gift to others.
Using Hot Pepper Jelly
Here are some ideas to get you started – but remember don’t limit yourself!
Use as an appetizer with cheese and crackers (use cream cheese, goat cheese, brie, etc).
Serve with chicken, turkey, pork or duck.
Use as a spread on ham, turkey or left over roast meat sandwiches.
Use as a glaze when making a roast.
Use as a glaze for roasted vegetables (see carrots).
Mix into ground meat when making hamburgers or meatballs.
Use it in dressings or marinades to add a little heat.
Use in sweet and sour sauces.
Another Savoury Jam
If you like sweet and savory jellies, you may also want to check out this Tomato Jam. It’s less sweet than this Hot Pepper Jelly and another great topping for goat cheese and crackers. Add as much or as little spice as you like by varying the amount of hot pepper flakes. I think you’re going to like it!
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.