When I was first living in Cyprus I spent a very happy summer running a stall at the local markets selling jams, chutneys, pickles and relishes. Every week I would buy up loads of the incredible local produce, and then set to work like a mad scientist, with a kitchen full of bubbling pots, boiling up hundreds of jars of preserves. It was an enormous amount of effort, especially as the temperature outside crept over 40°C, but it was an absolute joy.
One of my most popular recipes was Spicy Red Pepper Jelly, an American invention, perfect for swirling through cream cheese. Pepper Jelly in the U.S is commonly made with commercial pectin to set it, however, in Cyprus pectin is nowhere to be found. The solution is to add some natural pectin in the form of granny smith apples to the jelly to help it to set the natural way. This gives the jelly a lovely loose set – ideal for using as a dip or a sauce.
I like to add a couple of mild chillies to my Spicy Red Pepper Jelly – after all, that’s what makes it spicy! You can adjust the heat to your taste. For a more mild heat, use jalapeños, for some serious spice throw in a couple of birds eye or habanero chillies. While it is often simply served with cream cheese as a party dip, Spicy Red Pepper Jelly makes an excellent sauce for a quick stir-fried chicken or pork too. Cook the meat and stir through the jelly with a squeeze of lime at the end of the cooking time. Yum!
Despite the heat outside, summer is the season for canning and preserving. If you are looking for more preserving recipes click here for more. I’ll be adding more recipes all throughout the summer. Take care out there and happy cooking! x J
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 2 red bell peppers / capsicums (or 1 red, 1 yellow)
- 2-3 chilli peppers, to taste
- 1 granny smith apple, cored and grated
- 400g sugar
- 250ml white vinegar
Finely dice the peppers and chilli, I find it better to use a food processor, as this helps to release the juices, but you can do this by hand if you like. Grate the apple, then put the peppers and the apples into a large, heavy-based saucepan.
Stir through the sugar and vinegar, then heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then simmer for around 20 minutes until the mixture has reduced and begun to thicken. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 120°C / 250°F / Gas ½ and wash your jars in warm soapy water. Place the jars in a baking dish in the oven to sterilise. Place the lids in a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water.
After the jelly has reduced allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a heatproof jug. Pour into the hot, sterilised jars. If you find the pieces of pepper are floating to the top of the jar, invert the jars every 10 minutes until set. Allow to set overnight. Store in a cool dry place and don’t forget to label the jars!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I use other coloured peppers?
Yes! Red, green or yellow peppers are all fine. Green bell peppers and green jalapeños make for an especially delicious jelly.
Do I have to use apple in this jelly?
The purpose of the apple in this jelly is to add some natural pectin to help the jelly set. If you leave it out you will need to use another type of setting agent, or boil the peppers down until they are very thick – Which can affect the texture. Make sure to use a tart apple variety, granny smith are ideal.
How long will red pepper jelly last?
In sterilised jars, stored in a cool, dark place, Spicy Red Pepper Jelly will keep at least two years.