Home Cooking: Jalapeno jelly

September 04, 2012

Julia Brugh of Hagerstown has canned with her mother and sister for many years.

"My sisters and I grew up watching our mother can from the huge gardens our dad planted every year in West Virginia and then in Maryland," Brugh said. "When I planted my first garden here in Hagerstown, I began canning the produce from my harvests. My mother and the ‘Ball Blue Book of Canning' taught me how."

In recent years, Brugh's sister, Roxanne, has visited from Georgia during the peach harvest in Washington County. The two of them join sister Danni and their mother, Peggy, to can peaches from local orchards, plus tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables from Julia's and Danni's gardens.

"I refer to our endeavors as the Wildcat Growers Cooperative, after a fictional island called Wildcat Island our father used to tell us stories about when he was alive," Brugh said. "By continuing the tradition of gardening and canning, we honor both of our parents and have a lot of fun."

Brugh says this jalapeno jelly is delicious on a cracker topped with cream cheese.

— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor

Jalapeno jelly

3/4 pound jalapeno peppers (see cook's note)

2 cups vinegar cider, divided

6 cups sugar

2 pouches liquid pectin

Green food coloring (optional)

Wash and drain peppers. Remove stems and seeds. Puree peppers and 1 cup vinegar in a food processor or blender. In a large saucepot, combine puree, remaining vinegar and sugar.

Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil, and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Stir in a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps.

Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. (Directions follow.)

Cook's note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent getting pepper juice on hands.

Makes about 5 half pints.

— Courtesy of Julia Brugh of Hagerstown

Boiling-water processing:

Examine canning jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that might prevent sealing or cause breakage. Examine canning lids to ensure they are free of dents and sealing compound is even. You must use a new lid each time you process. Rings may be reused.

Wash jars and two-piece caps in hot soapy water, and rinse well. Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering, 180-degree water. Do not boil lids. Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use.

Fill boiling-water canner half full with hot water. Elevate rack in canner. Put canner lid in place. Heat water just to a simmer. Keep water hot until used for processing.

Fill jars one at a time with jelly. Wipe rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand. Place lid on jar, centering sealing compound on rim. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met —fingertip tight.

As each jar is filled set it into the elevated rack in the canner. After all jars are filled and placed onto the rack, lower rack into canner. Water level must cover the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.

Put lid on canner. Bring water to boil. Start processing time after water comes to a rolling boil.

When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool 5 minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.

After jars have cooled, check the lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off, the lid has a good vacuum seal. Wipe lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue.

Label jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

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