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Like many first-time gardeners, my humble backyard garden has produced more vegetables than I know what to do with! So, I spent last Saturday morning with Mom and learned to make hot pepper jelly using several pepper varieties from my vegetable garden: bell peppers, banana peppers, and jalapeños.
I’m sure for the sake of accuracy, I should probably call this jam since we blended the pulp of the peppers and seeds to make it, and jelly is typically made with just the juice of something (or so the internet tells me). But jelly is what Mom calls it, so who am I going to believe?
The process of learning to make jellies, jams, and preserves was a new experience for K and I during our visit. Mom walked us through the steps, equipment, sterilization methods, etc. I’m working on a longer post about general rules of thumb for home canning, so be on the lookout for a separate walkthrough to cover those concepts in more detail. This post is meant mainly for the simple, straightforward recipe, but I have some very basic info here, too.
In order to keep everything as uncontaminated as possible, things moved pretty quickly once it came off of the heat! You’ll need to sterilize your jars before beginning, but Mom keeps them inside the dishwasher (still hot) until they are ready to use, and the lids/bands in a pot of hot water on the stovetop as we prepared the jelly.
Home Canning Supplies
- Regular mouth quilted jelly jars
- Canning essentials set (for handling the hot lids without contamination, etc.)
- Stainless steel canning rack (Mom didn’t have this at the time we made these, so she used a dishtowel on the bottom of the pot instead — but I just picked this up for her as a thank-you for teaching me, so now she’ll have one!)
- Large sauce pan
- Large pot (we use Mom’s big crab pot, but you can also buy a pot + canning rack combo)
Onto the recipe!
Mom’s Quick and Easy Hot Pepper Jelly
If you’re looking for a sweet n’ spicy appetizer with some extra kick, pour a generous helping of Mom’s hot pepper jelly on softened cream cheese, then snarf it down with crackers. It’s great for holidays and parties, too!
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 tall jars
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Water bath
- 3-4 regular-sized bell peppers (we used a few small ones that would probably have equalled one regular one)
- 4 jalapeño peppers
- 1 small habanero pepper
- 1 box package of powdered pectin
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 5 cups sugar
- Sterilize canning jars, lids, and bands according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fill a large pot with water and heat it up on the stove.
- Chop peppers into chunks. For less heat, remove seeds (we removed half of the jalapeño seeds in this batch). Put all chopped pieces in blender and blend until there are no large chunks.
- Place pepper blend in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Add vinegar and pectin and continue stirring until the mixture is at a full rolling boil.
- Add sugar and stir, returning to a full roiling boil for exactly 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a spoon.
- Ladle jelly into jars up to 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with lids and bands; screw on tight.
- Place jars into canning pot, either on canning rack (slowly lower it into the pot) or (in Mom’s case) with a dish towel on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching. The water should cover the jars and be hot, but not boiling. Bring water to a boil and let process for 5 minutes.
- To prevent the seeds from settling on the bottom, flip the jars over for about five minutes while the jelly begins to cool. Turn them right side up to cool for the rest.
- You might hear pops from the lids forming a vacuum as the jelly cools. After 12 – 24 hours of cooling, remove the bands and push your finger down on the lids. If the lid still looks like it has a bump and/or flexes when you push down, the lid is unsealed and needs to be immediately stored in the fridge or reprocessed.
- Prepare and sterilize your jars, lids, and bands ahead of time. Here’s a more extensive post on the subject.
- Never reuse lids.
- Homemade jelly is meant for small batches; doubling up the recipe can mess with the pectin and cause the jelly not to set properly.
- If you don’t hear the jelly lid pop, or if you test the lid and it isn’t sealed properly, you can change the lid and reprocess it or immediately put it in the fridge and eat. It will keep for about a week with the lid on in the fridge.
- Jelly/jam that’s unopened can last for up to two years if it’s given a proper water bath. Once opened, you can store it in the fridge for up to three months (I’ve read six months online as well, but I’m not sure about that).
Keywords: pepper jelly, pepper jam, jelly and cream cheese appetizer, jalapeño jelly
A Note from Me & Mom:
Instagram is fully responsible for this recipe posting so quickly after this weekend. I went over to Mom and Dad’s with the intention of learning how to make Mom’s pepper jelly from my garden and sharing it on the blog for you at some point. But what I didn’t expect was the number of comments on my post about sharing more from “Cathy’s Kitchen.”
We have lots of family recipes like this, and I’m thrilled that so many of you want the stories that go with (like the time Granny knocked her kitchen timer in a big batch of her Sunday sauce, and we didn’t realize where it had gone until she thawed some out later that year — we still laugh about that one! Recipe coming in a future visit to Mom’s). I’m still pretty new to cooking and have zero intentions of making this blog all about recipes, but I’m glad I get to sprinkle in the things I’m learning as we go, much the same way I have with the rest of my home and DIY journey. And even to those of you who weren’t following when she passed, it means a lot to bring some of her favorite activities to the blog (she also taught me cross stitch, which you’ve already seen here too!). ❤️
Don’t forget to pin it to save for later!