Sweet Little Jar of Red Hot Stuff – Pepper Jelly

Drawn by the pretty slashes of blood red that added a pop of color and heat to plain water crackers at the bustling sampling counter in our suburban Trader Joe’s, we were in for a pleasant surprise. That taste of hot pepper jelly was quite a revelation for our spice-accustomed taste-buds. The jammy sweetness rushed to hit our tongues, tempered with hints of chillies and a lovely peppery aroma, the vinegary acidity nicely rounding off the flavors. Jelly, we then learnt, is usually made from fruit juice, unlike jam or preserves that have pulp or pieces of fruit in them. It is a little thicker than jam and of course, in its most popular avatar – grape jelly – along with peanut butter, it makes up America’s most loved lunchbox sandwich, the PB&J. It is hardly a surprise then that between jelly, jam and preserves, it is usually the jelly that has the maximum percentage of sugar content.

It took no time for the irresistible red pepper jelly and its variants, among them ginger jelly, cranberry jelly and raspberry jelly to take up shelf-space as condiments of choice in our homes. We like spreading sticky dollops of these on buttered toast, savoring it with our cheese and crackers, adding spoonfuls to dals and curries for pizzaz, even getting it to work as a salad dressing at times, by whisking it with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit of sesame oil.

Our recipe for Red Hot Pepper Jelly that follows has five simple ingredients, a couple of easy steps and needs no special equipment. It uses the natural pectin of apples to set the jelly, rather than calling for commercial pectin. However, the jelly is deliciously knock-your-socks-off hot and would probably come with several warnings were it to be sold in American stores. If you’re looking for more moderate heat, do adjust the amounts of hot and sweet peppers that you use. But if, like us, you’re the “Bring it on!” type, we reckon that you will never go back to a store-bought jar after trying this spirited adaptation.

Red Hot Pepper Jelly

(Makes about 2 Cups)

1.5 Cups – 1″ sized pieces of Red Jalapenos or Fresno Chillies, or Indian red pickle chillies, trimmed and seeds removed

1 Cup Red Bell Pepper/capsicum chunks

1 Green apple, cored and chopped

1 Cup vinegar

2 Cups sugar

Place the chillies, pepper/capsicum and apple in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely mashed. Transfer the mixture (along with any juices) to a heavy-bottomed, high-sided pan. Add the vinegar and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, for about 25-30 minutes or until the jelly thickens. A tiny bit of jelly when placed on a frozen plate will appear to be set, rather than runny. The jelly will thicken as it cools, do not overcook or else it will get  too tight and hard to spread.

Ladle the jelly into clean glass jars and allow to cool before covering. We just refrigerated our jars, but you could also follow the instructions here to can the jelly, as needed.

Note - if you want to reduce the heat level, you could also remove the inner membranes of the hot chilles. Conversely, to increase the heat, add half a teaspoon of crushed chillies to your jelly as it cooks.

Keep a jar on the table and you will soon be eating it alongside your stuffed parathas or flatbread, and adding a layer of jelly to jazz up that boring turkey sandwich.

Its good with all kinds of crackers – rusks, khakhra and mathris..with or without the cream cheese. Or impart a kicked-up sweet-spicy edge to your next Asian stir-fry by stirring in a spoonful.

Find more Indian-inspired recipes using everyday ingredients in our new eBook – MANGO MASALA: 60 Indian Recipes From Your Local Supermarket..now available on Amazon.com.

Mango Masala - 60 Indian Recipes From Your Local Supermarket

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34 Responses to Sweet Little Jar of Red Hot Stuff – Pepper Jelly

  1. Spiceroots says:

    Lip smacking good! Wonderfully Red hot deliciousness! I love the canning season.

  2. Kiran says:

    Mmmm… that looks too beautiful and delish. Bet it’s hot as well. :D

    ps: Jealous that you have Trader Joes. Seriously.

  3. Richa says:

    love that gorgeous red deliciousness.. spice and sweet, just purrfect! mmm mmm

  4. I will make these with the over-abundance of green jalapenos we have, looks so good and I am sure it will taste just as wonderful – thank you

  5. sunidhi says:

    wow wonderful! what a talent i never thought this that we can do something like this yummy dish…. it looks yummy and mouth watering. thanks for a good post. and you have described it very well. anybody can follow it. Let me try.keep posting………

  6. I came here seeing the name of your blog and then I fell in love with the pics and now I am sure I am gonna fall in love with the recipes. Gonna try something from your blog real soon. Glad to follow you. My blog’s name is Tadka Masala. Do visit some time.

  7. Soma says:

    This looks AMAH ZING! Why did you not post this before? I am having these peppers at home. harvested a few couple of weeks back and I just now make Mirchi Aachar! This looks like such a fun idea too.. and so much more versatile. beautiful color!

  8. This is lipsmackingly good..love that bright red colour, sweet n spicy and so flavour full!

  9. I love the bright red color! Looks amazing!

  10. Hello,
    This is something I want to try as soon as possible.I likes the container as well… :)
    First time here and wants to know more about your culinary journey so, following you on facebook.
    I would appreciate if you visit my space in your free time.
    Cheers!

  11. Currently trying this recipe. Lush red and the kitchen smells sweet and hot on a beautiful fall day. My girlfriend Peg inspired me this weekend when she brought a jar of pepper jelly and cream cheese on crackers appetizer for our dinner party.

  12. I LOVE pepper jelly. I can’t wait to make this!

  13. Pingback: Currying Up for Comfort | Tadka Pasta

  14. Angela Comstock says:

    ’tis the season, I guess. I was surfing around the internet looking for something to do with all of the beautiful red fresno chiles from my garden, and stumbled across your site. The photos sold me. I’ve just finished making a second batch — yum! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Pingback: Braid up for World Bread Day | Tadka Pasta

  16. mj says:

    great with cream cheese & smoked clams or oysters

  17. Aggie says:

    Made these with bird’s eye chillies!! A-N-D ….it si hot but lovely!! Thks for sharing !! Love ur blog!

  18. Pingback: Savor It: Hot pepper jam | So hungry I could blog

  19. Jill says:

    i’m going to try this out today. been looking for a simple recipe for all my hot peppers. and hate the official canning process. how long did your jars stay good just putting them in the fridge? thanks!

  20. Jessica says:

    Hi, I have a bunch of hot peppers from my CSA box and wanted to try this out (and maybe even attempt canning for the first time, so I can give it away as Christmas gifts). But, I’d like to cut out the sugar, if possible, or use something not so processed. I have organic coconut sugar that says it can be a 1:1 replacement for sugar. Do you think that would work too?

  21. shruthi says:

    Where can i find these chillies in the US? I would love love love to make a jar..although i am not too much of a cook..spicy stuff do me in and i am willing to expirement..AMAZING blog BTW

  22. This is the first pectin free pepper jelly recipe I have found that uses only two cups of sugar. I have just discovered canning and have made a few pepper jellies – peach, ground cherry, watermelon and ice wine – but all use pectin and mass amounts of sugar. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. noopur says:

    Hi! Iam going to try your recipe it looks delicious.I recently tried making apple jelly abd found it be too sweet as I had put about 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of apple juice. Do you put vinegar to counter the sweetness? Thanks!

    • Tadka Pasta says:

      Yes, there is vinegar in the recipe, noopur. Jellies are usually pretty sweet but you could reduce the sugar by a fourth of a cup if you are wary of it being too sweet.

    • Tadka Pasta says:

      Yes, there is vinegar in the recipe, Noopur. Also you can reduce the sugar a little bit but most jellies are fairly sweet and this one has the heat and tartness to balance.

      • Noopur says:

        hello ladies, thanks so much for your reply.I tried making it with regular indian chillies and used 1 cup sugar and vinegar and just loved the taste.I have to admit it doesnt have as much of a candied glaze as the one in the photo but still not bad and amazing to taste . thank you!

  24. Susan says:

    Super yummy and just the pectin-free hot pepper jam I was looking for. I had trouble finding hot enough peppers, so I added some dried red pepper, which added just the right zip. Thanks!

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