Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pepper Present

Garden log -314563.48 (For you trekkie fans out there)
Experimentation of the ornamental pepper, tricolore garda, proves in the first cream-purple phase of its 4 color phase growth that the pepper is indeed quite hot. Investigation must be done as to why there is no apparent heat for the first 5 seconds of chewing and then sudden "face slap" of heat immediately thereafter.

Jelly was deemed the appropriate fate for these peppers.

I had one lone ripened red bell pepper, a couple of jalapenos and MANY ornamental peppers (the purple-black calico and tricolor ones) available, so in the name of Tasty, I decided to make pepper jelly.

I didn't even know pepper jelly existed until about 2 years ago, when my husband and his mother introduced me to the stuff (with cream cheese!) Ever since then I have been obsessed, though not the point I need a jar in the house at all times, I just savor it when it is around.

I had never made jelly/jam before and while my husband and I had talked about canning last year (buying all the lids and tongs and such), we sort of got intimidated by all the steps and worries of contamination that we ended up washing all the one-time-use lids and used the jars instead for storage.

Yesterday I went out and bought some more canning jars (wide mouth ones, baby!) and powder pectin and noticed freezer jam pectin. I decided to grab some of that as well as I heard good things about it on various websites I frequent.

When I got home I did a trial run of freezer jam using some leftover cherries that I boiled in carmenere grape wine we had from our recent foray into French desserts (FLAMING CHERRY TART!) to use for acidity versus lemon juice and dumped in half the pectin because it was a small batch.

Sat around for half an hour while it set, cutting up hot peppers and such for the pepper jelly. After the half hour set time was up I tested the jelly. 'Ce magnifique! Cherries, wine, ya!

I then contemplated for 5 minutes about doing real canning with the other pectin and reread the directions for true canning on the box before I decided that this was a little too much for a small test batch of pepper jelly and decided to use the other half of the freezer pectin instead.

Boiled all the peppers in vinegar, some sugar and decided to add a dash of the carmenere for a bit o'colore and then tossed in the pectin, before pouring the entirety of simmering liquid into my shiny new Bell canning jar. Half hour of cool time, and a little tasting...
Mwahahaha! This was the best pepper jelly ever! The ornamental peppers give a great pungent spicy bite and awesome color and it isn't too sweet. I am proud of the natural additional color that the splash of wine gave.

Dang, I could make jelly all day. I still want to learn how to can For Real so that things are stable at room temperature and I don't take up additional fridge/freezer space, but for now, I am happy.