Sweet & Spicy Pepper Jelly

Pepper jelly is a delicious enigma: the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. It is nothing short of perfection on a cracker with cream cheese. This recipe is extremely versatile, use whatever color peppers you have on hand, and adjust the heat level to your liking, from just a hint of heat to inferno-in-your-mouth. This […]

Pepper jelly is a delicious enigma: the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. It is nothing short of perfection on a cracker with cream cheese.

This recipe is extremely versatile, use whatever color peppers you have on hand, and adjust the heat level to your liking, from just a hint of heat to inferno-in-your-mouth.

Jars of red and orange pepper jelly with printable labels

This sweet and spicy pepper jelly is one of my favorite recipes from my canning ebook series, That’s My Jam. It’s been a few years since I’ve made it, but recently a glut of peppers from our CSA left me no other choice than to make a batch or two. The result was so pretty I decided to share it here, complete with brand new labels (the ones in the ebook are specifically for red pepper jelly, so a new, more color-versatile label seemed to be in order).

I’m actually not particularly fond of peppers, if you can believe it. Pepper jelly is the exception, however, and I will devour an entire jar myself with gusto.

Bright sunlight making the red and orange pepper jelly sparkle

I’ve actually posted a pepper jelly recipe before, a traditional recipe using liquid pectin, but I reworked the recipe using Pomona’s pectin for the ebook a few years back. The updated recipe also incorporates the chopped peppers rather than straining them out, which results in a slightly chunkier but noticeably more flavorful jam (not to mention a higher yield).

Another benefit to using a low sugar pectin? It’s much quicker. In fact, the third batch of this jelly I made (I had high hopes for the purple version using some pretty purple sweet peppers, alas, ’twas not meant to be…) only took 30 minutes start to finish, minus the water bath (which I opted to skip for the third batch since it was smaller and ugly and not worth preserving). Even including the 10 minute boiling water bath, you can easily be done in 45 minutes… an hour total if we’re including dishes. Still, for jam, that’s definitely on the quick side, and one of the reasons I love canning with Pomona’s pectin.

(Be sure to click through and scroll to the bottom of this post for the printable labels… including a NEW editable template option for your canning convenience!)

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Cranberry Chutney

Have you ever gone away for a few weeks and found out that you’d left the freezer door ajar? Well, I did. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Before traveling, since I’m anti-gaspillage (against food waste), I jammed whatever I could into my already-stuffed freezer, including a half-eaten tomato tart, which I thought would be nice to have ready-and-waiting upon my arrival home,…

Have you ever gone away for a few weeks and found out that you’d left the freezer door ajar? Well, I did. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.

Before traveling, since I’m anti-gaspillage (against food waste), I jammed whatever I could into my already-stuffed freezer, including a half-eaten tomato tart, which I thought would be nice to have ready-and-waiting upon my arrival home, partially-used blocks of butter, and the miscellaneous leftover ends of bread that one collects when one constantly buys too much bread. When I returned, I realized that one of those bread pieces had been caught in the door and kept it from sealing closed.

Continue Reading Cranberry Chutney...

Cucamelon Pickles

Cucamelons are adorable little fruits that taste like a cucumber and look like a tiny watermelon. This quick refrigerator pickle recipe treats them more like the later: with a hint of ginger, allspice and star anise that makes for a truly unique pickle. I stumbled upon these cucamelons a few weeks ago at the farmers […]

Cucamelons are adorable little fruits that taste like a cucumber and look like a tiny watermelon. This quick refrigerator pickle recipe treats them more like the later: with a hint of ginger, allspice and star anise that makes for a truly unique pickle.

I stumbled upon these cucamelons a few weeks ago at the farmers market, and they were simply too cute to pass up.

Handmade ceramic dish overflowing with tiny cucamelons.

Cucamelons, also called mouse melons (OMG) or Mexican sour gherkins, are tiny, cucumber-like fruits native to Mexico and central America. With a thick outer skin with a watermelon-like appearance, it’s obvious where they get their name (I also think they look a bit like dinosaur eggs).

The flavor is tart, like a sour, lemony cucumber. The skins are thicker than your typical cucumbers, more snappy not unlike a watermelon.

I bought a quart of them, without the faintest idea of what I was going to do with them, but pickles seemed like an obvious choice.

Pouring the cider vinegar-based brine into a jar packed with cucamelons.

Considering they have characteristics of both cucumbers and melons, I figured I could go one of two ways:

Treat the cucamelons like cucumbers and pickle them in my trusty garlic dill pickle brine.

OR

Treat them like melons and pickle them in a more aromatic blend of spices like you’d use for pickled watermelon rind.

In this case, I chose the later (but if you prefer the cucumber direction, my spicy garlic dill pickle brine will work equally well for cucamelons).

The aromatic mix of spices, with a hint of heat and gingery spice makes for a unique flavor experience. Chances are, you’ve never tasted a pickle quite like this one. And their tiny shape means you’ll find yourself popping more than a few in your mouth, one after the other.

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