Harvest time is upon us. Aggressive six packs covered with diabolically grinning pumpkins crowd out summer’s lighter ales. Fall fashions push summer’s free flowing garb to the sale rack. I fantasize about moving to a place where winter is not coming, and then go back to being in denial that my flannel will need to come out of hibernation sooner rather than later. The denial is all the more easily fueled by the peak of the produce season. The tomatoes have never been juicier or tastier, the corn fields sway on tippy toes reaching as high as they will get, and our jalapeño plant is producing peppers like its going out of style. It’s also taken over my planter box.
This year I’ve been trending towards jam and other sweet preserves versus the pickling of years past. Preserving is much easier than I thought it would be, but I still like to commit to something until I get comfortable with it. So while I tried bourbon pickled jalepeños two years ago, this year I saved up my peppers until I had enough to make jelly. These combined with my friend Lana’s peppers made for a fun and fruitful evening! Who knows though. The plant is producing so much I will probably be able to pickle myself a pint of peppers!
Jalepeño Jelly with Powdered Pectin
This recipe is from Food by Carrie which also has a nice commentary on the difference between using powdered and liquid pectin.
- 8 large or 12 small jalapenos (12 oz)
- 1 whole bell pepper, seeded (orange or red preferably)
- 6 C sugar – pre-measured into a bowl (we used a little bit less – 6 cups is an insane amount of sugar)
- 2C white vinegar, divided
- 1 box powdered pectin (6 tablespoons from a bulk jar)
- Remove the tops and most seeds of all peppers. If you like your jam more spicy leave more seeds. If you like it less remove all seeds! Also be very careful about touching the jalepeños! Lana was very sad after she rubbed her eye not knowing that there was still jalapeño oils on her fingers. This is NO JOKE! Use good soap and wash thoroughly after touching the peppers. If you begin to feel a burn douse your hand in vodka. It really works! (Or just avoid all of this and wear gloves, which are easily found at your local grocery store!)
- Place all seeded peppers into a food processor or blender with 1 cup of vinegar. Blend.
- Add peppers, powdered pectin and remaining vinegar into a sauce pan.
- Bring to a rolling boil, add sugar all at once, then stir until melted. Just like Carrie we found it helpful to use a whisk.
- Bring back to a rolling boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- Some people add food coloring here. We did not feel the need.
- Pour into hot jars, adjust lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. CONSULT CANNING GUIDES BEFORE CANNING!!!!! This is also no joke. I used Ball Jars and Lana used Weck. It was the first time I had used Weck and they were easy to use but not compatible with my Ball funnel. Yes…there was jelly everywhere! You can also freeze the jelly or eat immediately! I highly recommend it on a sandwich of deli meat and cheese. Or a cheese sandwich. Or even on toast by itself!
Jalepeño-Spiked Bourbon Julep
I snuck two jalapeños away from our jam to make the fantastic simple syrup necessary for this cocktail. The recipe comes from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee. The book is full of amazing recipes that share the pages with Lee’s story of growing up the child of Korean immigrants in Brooklyn. His love of Southern cooking and his Korean heritage produces amazing recipes. I highly recommend.
Ingredients (Makes one drink):
- 4-6 fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
- 1 oz Jalapeño simple syrup (see below)
- crushed ice
- 2.5 oz bourbon (I used Berkshire Mountain Distillery Bourbon)
- Splash of soda water
- Jalapeño splice for garnish
My instructions are adapted from the recipe. I made the drink a few times and I think this is the best way to make the drink at home:
Put mint leaves at bottom of julep cup, or highball glass if you don’t have a julep cup. Add
simple syrup and gently muddle. Fill glass 2/3 with crushed ice and add bourbon and soda water. Stir well. Fill rest of the way with ice and garnish.
Jalapeño simple syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds and all)
In a small saucepan combine water, sugar, and peppers. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn off heat and let steep for 20 minutes. According to Lee this will keep in the fridge forever. So far mine has been in there for a few weeks and is doing great.