Hot Pepper Jam or Jelly
Not a true jelly, this can be made with any kind of pepper, and does not require pectin. It winds up with a loose jam-like quality, the result of boiling the liquids until the ingredients thicken.
It may be used in the same ways as a traditional pepper jelly but should always be kept refrigerated when not in use.
The pepper jelly I first made was from a pepper shaped much like a horn, called “cow horn pepper.”
Three or four times the size of a Tabasco or jalapeno pepper, it made a mildly hot jelly. Now the market is flooded with pepper jellies made from every kind of pepper, some of which are a bit too hot for me, such as the feisty Scotch Bonnet.
Pepper jelly is used as a sweet-hot condiment for nearly everything. It sparks up pork, ham, or goat or cream cheese as a starter, or can be dolloped on a piece of chicken nestled in a biscuit. It is also used to glaze or accompany chicken and pork, or is melted as a sauce, as with country ham.
1 cup seeded and coarsely chopped hot peppers, red, green and/or yellow
1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
11⁄2 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups granulated sugar
Process the peppers, optional onion, and vinegar in a food processor or blender until the vegetables are very finely chopped. Add to the sugar in a heavy nonaluminum pot. Dissolve the sugar completely over low heat. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the pepper jelly begins to thicken, watching carefully. Once the jelly thickens, turn the stove off and let the jelly sit for 5 minutes before skimming off the foam. Pour into clean containers, and keep refrigerated. Turn the jars upside down occasionally to keep the peppers mixed until the jelly is cool and set.
Variation: My apprentice, Nicole Mariner, was doing multiple tasks and the jam continued to cook until it was caramelized. It made a fabulous semi-taffy hot caramel candy, delicious, but perhaps not recommended for anyone with dentures.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 13 cookbooks, most recently the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.