Forgive the pun, but for us canning is a process, an uncanny process.
Our very first canning experience was dictated by what we were given to can and not necessarily on what we wanted to can – in fact, we didn’t really know how to can anything.
Plums, oh yes, lots and lots of plums. More plums than we could eat, more plums than we could store. They were a gift from a friend. We couldn’t throw them out. There was only one course of action – we would learn how to can.
That, my dear friends, was the uncanny beginning to our caning avocation.
We won’t take you through the entire experience of that frightful, delightful day. Suffice it to say, we didn’t even know what it meant when the filled jars pinged. We thought we had blown it; we thought we had failed; we thought our entire day had been in vain.
Ah, but that ping, those six pings, those wonderful pings were truly the sign of success. We were now veteran canners.
Now remember, too many plums meant we had to can. Towards the end of this last planting season, we had too many peppers. We had jalapenos, we had salsas, and we had habanero peppers everywhere. We pickled them. We dehydrated them. We put them into our salsa. We cooked them and ate them. Yet, we had to find another way to use them.
My beautiful, adorable spouse found the answer, by golly. “Hubby,” she said, “we’re going to make hot pepper jelly out of those little red and green rascals.” Her wish was my command.
First experiences are the most fun. We tried to find canning recipes for hot pepper jelly. We must have looked through sixty or so before we narrowed the field down to just two. Even those two didn’t give us exactly what we wanted, so we had to combine and modify them.
Others might quibble, quarrel, or disagree, but my most important finding during this entire exercise was: Don’t, I repeat don’t use the 2 (3 ounce) envelopes of liquid pectin. If you do, the result quite likely will be the same as my September batch – liquid, highly liquid, non-gelled jelly.
After waiting two days for a miracle to happen, I had to take the original six jars, pour them back into a pot, re-heat the batch and add powdered pectin. Then everything had to be re-processed. – – Then the miracle happened! Using our new-found knowledge about pectin, our October batch was perfection.
Voila! We now have hot pepper jelly. Okay, so we have hot pepper jelly – what do you do with it?
Our initial answer to that all important questions was – toast a bagel, spread cream cheese lightly, then add hot pepper jelly on top. Yum! What a way to start the day!
That, however was not the ultimate answer. No siree! Imagine if you will baked chicken thighs (some may prefer breasts, but thighs are where the taste action is) covered with a mixture of honey, Dijon mustard, and hot pepper jelly. The result is smooth, spicy, slightly sweet, and just plain delicious.
Our base recipe was Allrecipes Pepper Jelly Glazed Chicken, but feel free to modify and experiment. When it comes to hot peppers, be adventurous and enjoy the results.