Saturday, September 26, 2015

Adventures in Pepper Jelly: aka Smoked Pineapple Jalapeno Refrigerator Jam

As I mentioned in my last post, we were recently bestowed with an ENORMOUS stockpile of jalapenos & banana peppers.  I decided, "hey, I've never made pepper jelly before, and I have a Cajun food blog--I think it's about time!"



And so began my adventure.  Let's just state for the record--I have little to no jelly-making experience. I've made some cranberry-pineapple refrigerator jam which turned out pretty well, but in general, my homemade jam experience primarily involves magical childhood memories of enjoying strawberry freezer jam made by my Nana over warm Amish-made sourdough bread.  So...mostly I just have experience with EATING a lot of fridge & freezer jam.


As with most cooking adventures, I started on Pinterest.  The first recipe I tried resulted in an absolutely beautiful product that tasted lovely...but was the consistency of roof tar.  I couldn't even clean out the jar to try & reuse it.  *sniff* So sad.  

Lesson learned: Not all pectins are the same.  I have a jar of INSTANT pectin SPECIFICALLY for making fridge & freezer jam, meaning it's not intended to go through the boiling process.  I'm sure if you try this recipe with the RIGHT pectin, it would be fabulous.  

So for Attempt #2, I went straight to the Ball Website to find a pepper jelly recipe for my type of pectin.  And I did!  We decided to tweak this just a little bit: instead of green peppers & canned chilis, we went with our fresh jalapenos, and we grilled the pineapple & jalapenos first to add an extra layer of flavor.  

Lesson learned:  You are not as bad@ss as you think you are.  Remove at least SOME of the seeds before you puree.  We ended up having to puree more pineapple and add in a bunch of pineapple juice in order to bring this down to an edible level--and even then it was really ONLY tolerable with cream cheese to kill the capsacin.

THIS is exactly why I only make one jar of things, rather than a whole batch.

So...we made ONE MORE BATCH, using all our lessons and tinkering, and THAT'S what I present to you today.  


(Served over cream cheese for our most recent work potluck luncheon.)

INGREDIENTS (per 8oz [pint] jar):
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp INSTANT Pectin (for fridge/freezer jams)
About 8 oz of pineapple slices (we did use canned for our last batch and it still tasted fine)
3 jalapenos, seeds & ribs removed (you can leave the seeds in one if you like heat)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2-1 tsp Liquid Smoke (optional, to taste)
Pineapple Juice (as needed--grilling removes some of the moisture so you may need to add a little juice to get a full jar)

DIRECTIONS:
Have a clean, sterilized pint jar ready (as always, we used EasyClean, but you can also use your dishwasher or any of the other sterilization methods)
Grill your pineapple rings & jalapenos until they have a light char.
Stir the sugar and pectin together in a medium bowl, set aside.
Add your pineapple, jalapenos, lime juice, and Liquid Smoke to a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Then pour the mixture into the bowl with the sugar/pectin and stir for 3 minutes.  Taste & decide if you want to add more of the Liquid Smoke (a little goes a LONG way, but we think it ups the smoky flavor from the grill).

Transfer the jelly into your pint jar, and add a little pineapple juice if you need in order to get a full jar, and mix well.  Stick in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to thicken.  You can keep it in the fridge for about a month or in the freezer for a year.

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