I love making pickles, chutney and relishes. As soon as the weather warms up and the summer fruit and veg hits the stalls, I am already plotting what tasty treats I am going to cook up next.
Out of all my recipes, none is more popular than my Spicy Red Pepper Jelly. It’s not an exaggeration to say I have made hundreds of jars of this deliciously spicy and sweet jelly and it is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat.
Why this recipe works
You don’t need to buy pectin to set red pepper jelly. The solution is to add some natural pectin in the form of pectin rich 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. This is such an easy, natural way of cooking, without any special ingredients.
To make my Red Pepper Jelly recipe, you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Red Bell Peppers (Capsicums): I like to use red bell peppers for their deep, rich colour, but you can switch things up and use red and yellow for a bright orange jelly, or green for a green jelly! Green peppers don’t have as much natural sweetness as red, so you may need to add a touch more sugar.
- Chilli Peppers: This one is up to you, and how spicy you like your pepper jelly. Want it extra spicy? Throw in those habaneros or scotch bonnets. Prefer a more mild taste? Jalapeños give a lovely spice without being too hot.
- Granny Smith Apples: You need a good, tart apple with plenty of natural pectin, so go for Granny Smith in this recipe, they are guaranteed to work and taste great.
- Sugar: White sugar will give the best colour and flavour result in this recipe.
- Vinegar: I like to use plain white vinegar for this recipe, as above it means the red of the peppers will show up most beautifully.
This is a simple and very forgiving recipe, though you’ll need to stick around the kitchen while it boils to give it a stir every now and then and ensure it doesn’t catch.
- First, dice the peppers and chillies. I thoroughly recommend using a food processor to do this as you’ll get nice little pieces, extract some lovely juice and avoid getting chilli on your fingers! You’l also need to grate the granny smith apple.
- Next, add everything to a heavy based saucepan, along with the sugar and vinegar, stir until the sugar has dissolved over a medium heat, then simmer for around 20 minutes.
- While the jelly is simmering, you can sterilise some glass jars in a hot oven and pour boiling water over the lids.
- Last, all you need to do is pour the hot jelly into your sterilised jars! The jelly will still be quite liquid while it is hot, so you’ll need to let it cool to set and gel overnight.
About this recipe
A bit of background. When I was living in Cyprus I spent a very happy couple of summers 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 every week was an enormous amount of effort, especially as the temperature outside crept over 40°C (that’s 104°F!), but it was an absolute joy and gave me a lot of practice in preserving.
This was one of my most popular recipes and guaranteed to sell out every week. I had to get creative however, as Pepper Jelly in the U.S.A is commonly made with commercial pectin to set it, however, in Cyprus pectin is nowhere to be found.
You can use a mixture of red and yellow peppers to get a bright orange colour, or green peppers and jalapeños for a gorgeously green jelly.
Is this red pepper jelly very spicy?
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. Experiment and see what you like.
Red Pepper Jelly Recipe Ideas
While pepper jelly it is often simply served with cream cheese as a party dip, my Spicy Red Pepper Jelly makes an excellent sauce for a quick stir-fried chicken or pork too. Stir fry the meat and any vegetables and simply stir through the jelly with a squeeze of lime at the end of the cooking time. Yum!
Looking for more preserves and chutneys?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
How do I fill the jars without making a mess?
If you are having trouble filling your jars without making a mess all over the counter (like me), try using a jam funnel (link in recipe card). Trust, me, life-changing!
Can I use dried chillies in red pepper jelly?
Yes, you can! Just add the dried chillies to taste while the jelly is cooking.
Can I use other coloured peppers to make pepper jelly?
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 red pepper 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 apples are ideal.
Can I make a double batch of red pepper jelly?
Yes, though the larger batch you make the longer it will take to cook down, which can alter the flavour. When I am making larger batches of Red Pepper Jelly I use multiple saucepans so the cooking time remains the same.
You can make this jelly as spicy as you like, or even add extra flavours like ginger or lime to give it your own twist.
What to do if jelly doesn’t set
First of all, don’t panic! It is perfectly possible to recook jelly, though it does mean washing your jars again which I’ll admit is a bit of a pain. If you are having trouble with jelly setting it is a good idea to use a jam thermometer. Reboil the mixture until it reaches 104.5°C / 220°F (this will happen quickly as most of the water has already been cooked off!) and pour into clean jars.
- 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 (approx. 2 cups)
- 250ml (1 cup) white vinegar
- DICE THE PEPPERS: Finely dice the peppers and chilli. It is 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 apple into a large, heavy-based saucepan.
- ADD SUGAR AND VINEGAR: Stir through the sugar and vinegar, then heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a rolling simmer, then simmer for 20 minutes until the mixture has reduced and begun to thicken.
- PREPARE YOUR JARS: 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.
- JAR AND COOL: 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.
- SETTING TIME: The jelly will be still quite liquid while hot. Allow to set and gel overnight. Store in a cool dry place and don’t forget to label the jars.
If you are having trouble filling your jars without making a mess all over the counter (like me), try using a jam funnel like this one. Trust, me, life-changing!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 Tbsp
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 87Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 21gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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