Oct 10, 2012

Jalapeño Jam

I can't believe how productive the jalapeño plant in my Hudson Valley garden has been.  That little bush has produced a couple hundred peppers over the past two months!  I've already frozen a bag of 'em and pickled a jar that'll last me a year.  Normally I'd can or freeze  salsa, but this season my tomato plants all died of blight.  Which left me wondering what to do with all them peppers.  Hot sauce initially came to mind, but I didn't feel all that excited to make it.  Then I remembered the jalapeño jelly a friend of my dad's brought him - I loved how sweet and sour it was (and wondered what the base was made from).  I decided to attempt a batch of it.  The magic ingredient turns out to be apple cider vinegar.  All the jalapeño jam recipes I found were basically vinegar jelly with minced peppers suspended in it.  I love vinegar.  When I was a kid, I regularly consumed gut searing concoctions of strait vinegar and chopped onions.  I'd add Tobasco sauce if it was in the house.  Anyway…it's no wonder I loved that hot pepper jam my dad's friend gave him.  

I'm happy with my how my first batch of jalapeño jam turned out - though the truth is that as much as I love to make jam, I rarely indulge in the strait stuff.  That's not to say that any jam is wasted in our home.  It all goes into pies and tarts and cobblers and cakes.  And today's jam can be used as a key ingredient in something completely different I like to make - sweet and sour oxtail.  But that's another post.

I'm not very meticulous about measuring ingredients, but I used approximately the following amounts:

20 medium sized jalapeño peppers, de-seeded
5  medium poblano peppers (a couple small green bell peppers would suffice, but I had poblanos from my garden)
3 cups of apple cider vinegar
5 cups of sugar
a pinch of salt

To thicken the jam, I used a low-or-no-sugar type of pectin because that's what I had on hand.  You could more easily use Ball brand low-sugar pectin.  The type I used works in two parts, of which I used:
5 teaspoons of the calcium solution
4 teaspoons of the pectin
This is the second giant bowl of peppers from my garden: jalapeños, poblanos, bell and cayenne peppers.  I wish I could use the cayennes in today's jam, but they're hotter than hellfire.

Well, this is gonna take a while.  You can use a food processor, but I took mine to Oregon.  

That's at least two and a half cups of minced peppers, maybe three - some of which are not hot - and three to three and a half cups of apple cider vinegar.  Plus a pinch of salt.  

This is the low-or-no-sugar pectin I'm using.  Sometimes I make extremely low sugar jams, or jams with honey instead of sugar.  This product works for that.  It's a two part process.  You add a calcium solution to the cooking pot of fruit, then mix a dry pectin into the sugar before adding it to the pot.  (I prefer Ball brand low-sugar pectin when I make jams with regular sugar, but I don't have any on hand today.)  

Now here's something I almost never use, but I didn't like the way the peppers were yellowing as they cooked so I added about five drops of green food coloring.  Totally unecessary.   

Then I added 5 teaspoons of the calcium solution that came with the type of pectin I'm using.

I simmered that until the peppers were soft - ten minutes at most.  

Then I added the sugar/pectin mixture, brought it back to a boil for about a minute, and removed it from the heat.  

I filled eight half pint jars that I'd sterilized by boiling for five minutes.  

I wiped jam drippings from the rims before putting the lids on.  

I sterilized some lids by bringing them to a simmer, then turning off the heat and letting them sit in the water until I needed them.    

Don't put the rings on super tight - you actually want some air to escape during the next step.  

I put the filled jars back into the pot I'd sterlized them in.  It would take forever for it to come to a boil if the water wasn't already hot.  

I boiled 'em for at about five minutes.  You could cover the pot to bring it to a boil as fast as possible.  

No need to boil much longer than that for such a highly acidic product.  The acid will prevent bacteria from growing in your jam.  

Those babies will pop and seal right away.  I love making jam!

I don't know if it's the addition of sugar, the vinegar, the cooking process or all of the above, but the jam is not super hot.  It's just right.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Frankie! Read your comments about your tomatoes. Sorry to hear that. 3 years ago I had 19 plants decimated by, I guess, fusarium wilt. Tomatoes were growing like crazy until the disease hit in late July. Plants started dying from the ground up. My take is that the plants were too close, which didn't allow for proper air circulation, as well as top-watering. The following year, I used newspaper and straw as a mulch and had no disease problems. Had lotsa tomatoes.