preserving: spicy red pepper jelly
Oh man this is good stuff. A few years ago, my top appetizer-to-toss-together was goat cheese, red pepper jelly and quickly sauteed Greek pita (the slightly thicker variety---not the pita pockets). I would give the pitas a quick visit in the skillet with some olive oil and Italian herbs, then cut them into wedges. It was always, always a hit and the jar of red pepper jelly would be inhaled consumed politely by guests.
Since coming home from our year abroad [cycling from Amsterdam to Paris, then living in Italy]---we are still recovering from unfavorable exchange rates (aka weak dollar!). My budget doesn't stretch to an $8 splurge on my favorite jar of red pepper jelly (from Stonewall Kitchen); so I did what any newbie-to-the-canning-world would do: I made my own. And for pennies on the dollar. I was thrilled to discover it was every bit as good as the off-the-shelf variety (okay, maybe better, but you will have to make it to see for yourself...).
Now my favorite appetizer is just as easy to assemble: open jar and insert spoon, plate cheese, saute and cut pita... but that much more rewarding. And guess what my friends and family are getting for Christmas?
Quick note: I made Spicy Red Pepper Jelly with Pomona Pectin which I LOVE. This natural citrus pectin means I can add less sugar (and no---they didn't send me any free samples---I discovered it all on my own. I also made Rhubarb Strawberry Jam with Pomona's Pectin and used 4 cups fruit and only 1 1/3 cups sugar... it was full of fruit flavor).
Spicy Red Pepper Jelly 1 cup finely chopped (OR quickly pureed) bell red pepper 1 tsp red pepper flakes 1 1/3 cup white vinegar 2 tsp calcium water from POMONA PECTIN. 1 1/2 tsp pectin from POMONA PECTIN. 2 1/3 cup white sugar
1. Wash and rinse jars; let stand in hot water. Bring lids to boil; let stand in hot water.
2. Prepare fruit: Puree peppers, place in pot with vinegar and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil, then let simmer 5 minutes.
3. Add calcium water to pan. Stir well.
4. In small bowl, combine pectin powder with 1/2 cup sugar.
5. Bring pepper mixture back to a boil, stir in pectin-sugar blend to dissolve. Then add remaining sugar. Stir vigorously to dissolve, once it boils, remove from heat.
6. Fill jars to 1/4inch from top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on lids. Boil 10 minutes in hot water bath. Remove and let cool.