Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hot Pepper Jam

Our all-time favorite appetizer is Homemade Hot Pepper Jam over softened cream cheese. Serve with thin pretzels or other cracker of choice.  It is a wonderful blend of heat and sweet. 

Personally, I use a mix of jalapenos and hot cherry peppers for a beautiful mix of colors.  If it is early in the season and the peppers aren't as hot as I like, I have also added in several cayenne peppers for a little added heat.  

My jar of choice is the 1/2 size (4oz) jelly jar.  It is the perfect ratio:  one full jar to one block of cream cheese.  These jars are also given out on Christmas or other occasions as our take-home gift to guests. 

Hot Pepper Jam
Adapted from the Ball Pectin recipe:     yield: 12-4oz, or 6-8oz jelly jars
Use Gloves!
Another caution: rinse/wash all peppers before you cut them.  Do not rinse after cut.
4c. Fresh-picked, Prepared (finely chopped) hot peppers, seeds discarded*
    *I use a mix of Jalapeno and Hot Cherry, I keep in a few seeds from each pepper, and chop using a small food processor - to finally measure a full 4c. prepared peppers 
1c. cider vinegar
5c. sugar (do not substitute)
Pectin - 6 Tb. from bulk jar (or 1 box) Original/Classic

1.  PREPARE boiling water canner, jars and lids.  Measure out all ingredients.

2.  COMBINE prepared peppers with vinegar in a 6-8qt saucepan (you need the large surface area).  Gradually stir in Ball Original/Classic Fruit Pectin.  Optional: Add up to 1/2 tsp butter to reduce foaming.  Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over hight heat, stirring constantly.

3.  ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve.  Return mixture to a full rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.

4.  LADLE hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Clean rim and threads of jars using a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.

5.  CENTER hot lids on jars, allowing sealing compound to come in contact with the jar rim.  Apply bands and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

6.  PLACE filled jars in canner.  Be sure water covers tops of jars by 1-2 inches.  Add hot water if necessary.  Place lid on canner. Bring water to a gentle, steady boil.

7.  PROCESS jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude (refer to chart in pectin).  After processing is complete, turn off heat and remove lid.  Let jars stand for 5 minutes.

8.  REMOVE jars from canner and set upright on a towel to cool, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours.  Bands should not be retightened as this may interfere with the sealing process.  After cooling, test seals by pressing the center of each lid.  If a lid does not flex up and down, it is sealed!  If it is not sealed within 24 hours, refrigerate immediatedly for up to 3 weeks or reprocess for the full length of time using a new lid.  

9.  CLEAN sealed jars.  Remove the bands.  Wipe jars and lids with a clean, damp cloth.  Label and store in a cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year.

I make several batches of this jam every year so in addition to labeling with the year, I indicate the batch number as well using inconspicuous "dots", abc, 123, or the like.  Each batch will turn out with a slightly different "hotness" level.  I keep track and use accordingly (eg: the hottest batch is noted and saved for "special" occasions). 

Do you have a favorite variation of hot pepper jam?