Friday, November 9, 2012

Pepper Jelly

We love audience participation on this blog so the CC presents (a lightly edited) version of reader Marcus' post about preserving an excess of peppers in the South.

Recently, I sent a photo of some peppers to the CC. Upon seeing the cornucopia, he asked me to write a guest post. About what I wasn't sure but since my original email included mention of peppers and jelly, I thought I would write about the Southern tradition that is pepper jelly! 
Here in Arkansas, pepper plants grow from March until the end of October (our first freeze was last night). I start my peppers in January indoors and transplant them in late March or early April depending on the weather. Peppers produce fruit relatively quickly, so you can get a LOT of peppers from a single plant through the year, which makes food preservation a necessity (waste not, want not). The first photo is about 1/3rd of the peppers in my garden on the day these where picked, about a week ago. I measured 6.4 kg total. This is an assortment of cayenne, serrano, jalapeno, anaheim, poblano, bell, and a variety of other sweet peppers. 
Pepper jelly is one of those rare items I have never seen for sale (or maybe just never looked for) in a grocery store but with which I've been acquainted all my life as with eating certain wild game. We were given some wonderful pepper jelly last year — that's where it always comes from, you see, someone gives it to you — and were thus inspired to try our hand at making some. Neither the wife nor I had ever made the sweet concoction, so it was a first for us both. The second photo is a shot of the final product. This photo is actually all the jars from two batches. 
Last night while filling jars from the second batch, I had the forethought to pull some off for later. It can take two weeks for jelly to set but I wanted to try a bite sooner. I put the small portion on my eggs this morning. It's quite a bit hotter than most people would make, but I like the heat. Very delicious! My 1-year old insisted on having some on her eggs as well (she refuses to be left out of anything). She would take a bite, cough, drink some milk, then take another bite! 
(Edit from the wife) Because this recipe is high on the heat factor, the recipe card is now labeled "Hot Pepper Jelly", instead of Pepper Jelly. In future batches, I may deseed the peppers or select fewer of the hot varieties so we have options on the shelf, similar to mild, medium and hot salsa.

For the record, the CC has only one thing to add, "Go, go, go, little baby!" (for the heat-loving factor.)


Amanda said...


My family is from Arkansas. Whereabouts are you? My mother used to buy pepper jelly at farm stands whenever we drove up from Louisiana to see the relatives.


Marcus said...

I'm in Conway. Grew up in Greenbrier (just a few miles north of here).

Marcus said...

Also my step-dad is from LA. Many, LA; on the western side about midway down. Used to go down there quite a bit. He used to bring up fresh seafood on his trips back from working in the oil fields in the gulf. Yum!