Thursday, July 25, 2013

One Hot Jelly Mama !!!!

The Mad Scientist is at it again !!!  I couldn't HELP myself !! My wonderful friend Ron Elkins has this awesome fresh pepper business in Florida,, and I couldn't help but order some fresh ghost chiles this summer, as we did not grow any at home this year.

Well a pound of ghost chiles is A LOT of heat to work with so I knew I needed to get creative and fast. Knowing that pepper jelly is a pretty popular food and super easy to whip up, I thought  I'd do at least one batch. Researching recipe after recipe I couldn't really find what I wanted. Many called for red bell pepper, which is a readily available ingredient, but for me in small town Iowa, can be outrageously expensive. I know a lot of people make jellies from fruit juices so my little brain started ? Too mild. Grape ? Too sweet. Ahhhhh CRANBERRY !!!!

So armed with 100% cranberry juice NOT cocktail, with no added sugar I began my experiment!! 

NOTE: This recipe/method is minimum 2 days prep so allow for that time.

Hotter Than Death Ghostly Cranberry Jelly

8 cups cranberry juice
4 ghost chiles
1 package Mrs. Wages pectin (just happens to be the brand I used, use whatever you like)
9 cups sugar

Start off by heating the cranberry juice to simmering. Meanwhile, CAREFULLY quarter the peppers leaving the stem end intact. Seeds and everything stay inside for now. 

Once the juice is hot, add the peppers,cover and let steep overnight. Refrigerate when it's cooled down a bit.

The next day TASTE TEST your juice. If it is way too hot you can replace some of the juice with fresh cranberry juice that has not been steeped with pepper. If you don't think it's as hot as you like, reheat WITH the peppers in the juice and allow to steep overnight, or add another pepper if you have one. The next day you will want to re-taste again before proceeding. Mine was not quite hot enough so I reheated the juice with the peppers in it, let it steep another couple hours and then it was perfect. You want a product with good hot hot hot heat that is still edible. When you have reached the right amount of heat, strain the juice through a jelly bag or coffee filter to remove all seeds and proceed with the jelly making.

In saucepan, combine juice with pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium high heat. Add sugar all at once, stir constantly and return to full rolling boil for one minute. Remove from heat, skim foam if necessary.

Ever stared down into a volcano filled with molten lava?
Ladle hot jelly into 8 or 4 ounce jars, wipe rims, fix lids and seals and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water, allow to cool at room temperature overnight. Remember, sometimes jelly does not "jel" immediately. Give it a few days before reprocessing with more pectin if needed. Check for proper seals, refrigerate or freeze any that did not seal. Label and store in cool, dry place. After my jelly boil over and sticky mess to clean up I ended up with 13 half pint jars processed and a custard cup in the fridge to test. have this beautiful ruby red and hellishly hot jelly. This is NOT peanut butter and jelly stuff, so what do you do with it? Some people like to spoon it over a softened block of cream cheese and serve with crackers. I plan to use it as a glaze/sauce for sticky sweet hot wings, a glaze for pork roast or kebabs, even steak cubes. Mix a little with cubed chicken and fresh Asian veggies for a spicy stir fry. Add a teaspoon to a vinaigrette for a roaring hot kick in the pants. Use your imagination and have fun !!

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