Strawberry and Blackberry Pepper Jelly

This isn’t really a recipe for pepper jelly. This is the story of our slightly haphazard attempt at making our own pepper jelly for the first time, which started out strong, took a wrong turn, and then miracle of miracles, came together in the end. Don’s inspiration was to meld a strawberry jam recipe with a pepper jelly recipe. (And throw in the blackberries because, well, why not?) He’s good at winging it so he researched a few jam and jelly recipes online for the fundamentals and then set to work.

Roughly, this is what we used in this experiment: (after all was said and done)

  • 6 habenaro peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 medium-sized green bell peppers
  • about a pound of blackberries, juiced
  • about two pounds of strawberries, juiced (the two together equaled 4 cups of fruit juice)
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 6 tbsps raw honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
  • about a cup and 1/2 of water (NOT recommended)
  • 2 packages of pectin

Here’s how this went down. Don de-seeded all the peppers and then chopped them up in the food processor. Then he combined all the peppers, fruit juice, sugar products, everything except the water and pectin and cooked it down for a bit. At some point, the pectin was added. Then some time later, Don was afraid it was too thick and that it would set up so hard that it wouldn’t be edible, so he added some water. (Unbeknownst to me.) We continued on our merry way. We filled the jars and went through the canning process and…waited. It looked suspiciously too thin after an hour. So, we opened it all back up, threw it all back on the stove, and added another package of pectin and more strawberries. After washing everything up we had round two of filling jars and canning.

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The canning funnel is AMAZ-ing! We just bought it that day. I was a little skeptical and thought maybe it was an extravagance we didn’t really need. Nope. It’s the best thing EVER.

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As luck would have it, the final product is perfect. Although, the pictures above are misleading because they are from the first round of canning. Once we cooked it down further, what we ended up with only filled the 12 4 oz jars, not any of the larger jars. For flavor, it has a touch of sweet combined with a good peppery heat. We LOVE it. Even a friend who I suspected would think it was too hot likes it. We serve it over cream cheese with crackers but I think it’s just fine by itself too. Some folks mix the cream cheese and jelly to make a dip, which can be easier if you’re serving at a party. I also found some other great ideas for using pepper jelly which are linked below. Next time we make fried green tomatoes, I think I’ll be trying a little jelly on top.

Final thoughts and what we learned from this experiment:

  1. Wear gloves when processing habenaros. (No fire-in-the-eye accidents but Don was conscious of the residue on his hands all night long.)
  2. DO NOT add water to your jelly.
  3. We need more 4 oz jars. 🙂

One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.
~ Julia Child, My Life in France

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