Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pepper Mystery Solved

You may recall, a week ago I received a beautiful selection of assorted veggies from a coworkers family garden.  I was not quite sure what the narrow peppers were, nor how hot.  My colleague assured me they were sweet.  Not knowing what to do with them all, someone at volleyball suggested I try pepper jelly.  I've made fruit jams plenty of times, but never pepper, but decided I could be up for the challenge.  I could re-gift the peppers back in a jar as well if it turned out.  I bought Sure-Jel for the pectin, and despite a bunch of recipes on-iline, I decided to modify the one in the instructions for hot jalapeno relish.  I followed the directions, almost exactly (tongue in cheek as I rarely follow anything exactly in recipes)  though I think I had more than 4 cups of  cut up peppers, and I think I left the pieces too big.  I'll wait to see what others think.  I like to see the fruit in my jams, so thought the same might be true of peppers. I didn't think until I was done hat I should have taken a few pictures to document this new adventure.  I took a few after shots. I am happy to say only one dud in the seven jars.  That became the tester. 
Here are my filled jars in the hot water bath.

I did take  a picture of the 7 jars cooling.  One was just a wee little thing. 
I didn't shop sale items, but I had sugar, vinegar, and a supply of jars on hand.  I had to buy new lids and rings as I didn't trust the old ones I had left. If I estimated my cost for everything, except jars since they can be reused, I would say $4.50 for the batch.  I recall buying  hot pepper jelly last fall for $3.00 a jar at an orchard.  A kitchen specialty store would probably be at least $5.00, so a frugal project since the peppers were free.
But how was the taste.  I opened the tester jar, the one that didn't pop.  A kind of odd thing happened in that the bottom was definitely jelling, but the top, where most of the pepper pieces seemed to rise, seemed watery.  I stirred up the whole jar, and the consistency was better.  This was only about 4 hours after the hot water bath so perhaps it will set more fully once fully cool.  No doubt these were sweet peppers, even the red.  I got no heat at all from the jelly, and was it very sweet.  It was quite flavorful, and I should have had smaller, almost minced, peppers, which might have infused more flavor of pepper.  It is pretty to see the pieces in the jar, so next time I'll maybe mince 2/3, and keep a 1/3 more chunky and visible.  Die hard jam and jelly makers are probably cringing at my deviations. 

So my pepper mystery has been solved. I managed to get all but two banana peppers used for the recipe.  The two I kept out intentionally to try and pickle them like refrigerator pickles.  Both my girls love banana peppers on sandwiches, but I think they have both only had the already sliced and jarred kind.  We'll see how these taste. After the pepper bounty on Monday, I have just a handful of bell peppers now. I've a few onions and tomatoes as well from last week.  We still haven't had fajitas-sounds like a menu plan to me. Any weekend adventures to share?

Last Mondays pepper bounty

The bottom of the basket

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