Best Recipes for Jams and Jellies: Fiery Fruits and Cool Preserves
Fiery Pepper Jelly
As with my first pear pie, when I ask some people about their preferences for hot pepper jelly, they look at me funny. Not everyone has heard of it. While peppers are not strictly fruit, they make a fine jelly that is more enjoyable than one might expect.
Members of the Amish settlement east of us here in our state operate a home cooking restaurant named Yoder’s where I go occasionally. It is the most pleasant and relaxing dining experience that I can recommend to anyone. It's a nice drive to the restaurant, the food is tasty, plentiful and affordable, and the atmosphere is fresh, open and friendly. The decor is simple, the aromas wonderful, and everyone is pleased to see you.
In the foyer of Yoders, the shop offers homemade bread, biscuits, jam, jelly, preserves, honey from bees they raise themselves; and many other treats. Hot Pepper Jelly is one of my vary favorites from their shelves. My recipe below is close their peppery goodness, but I can’t seem to get just the right flavor and heat. Maybe they’ll tell me on my next visit how I can get closer to the original. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Yoder always take time to sit down with each table full of guests, or even when you’re there alone. They are delightful and outgoing people.
Please rate this jelly recipe.
Fiery Bright Peppers
Hot Pepper Jelly
You can make either red or green pepper jelly with this recipe. For red jelly, subsititue red hot peppers and red food coloring into the recipe.
- 3/4 Cup bell peppers, orange or red
- 1/2 Cup hot green peppers of your choice (Choose larger peppers for easier seeding).
- 6.5 Cups granulated sugar
- One small bottle Certo (jelly making fruit pectin; it comes in several brands)
- 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
- Green food coloring, if you like.
- Seed and grind all the bell and hot peppers, and keep the juices.
- In a medium sized saucepan, place all the peppers, pepper juice, sugar, and vinegar.
- Bring the heat to a full rolling boil and stir occasionally with wooden spoon (metals can cause an off taste). Cook about 10 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the stove top allow to cool for 5 minutes on a doubled up towel or hot pad on the counter.
- Next, add the Certo or other pectin product and stir briefly. Add a few drops of food coloring now if you are going to do so.
- Let the jelly cool until it begins to set - stir it occasionally so the peppers won't fall to the bottom of the pan.
- When you see the jelly begin to thicken, pour it from the pan into jelly glasses and seal with hot paraffin.
Tomato Jam In A Flash
This recipe makes 4 or 5 pints of yellow tomato jam which can be processed in glass jars or frozen and kept for several months o the freezer. Red tomato jam is also good, but yellow tomatoes are less acidic and offer a different flavor.
- 2 - 3 Pounds of yellow tomatoes
- 1 Whole lemon, washed and sliced thin
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 stick of stick cinnamon
- 4 Cups granulated sugar
- 1 Cup spring water
- Wash the yellow tomatoes, but do not peel;
- In a large saucepan, place all ingredients together over medium high heat.
- Bring the pan to the boil and reduce heat to medium low.
- Simmer the jam for 2 hours, or until thickened.
- Remove pan form heat and take out the cinnamon stick and discard.
- Pour into canning or jelly jars and seal with lids and rings.
- Process the jars in a hot water bath for 20 minutes (see directions in last recipe).
Any Color Watermelon Makes Good Preserves.
Watermelon Preserves or Pickles
Makes 5 to 6 pints (2 cups each pint) of preserves – just from the rinds! That’s some “green” cooking with almost 0 waste. The rest can go on the compost pile.
These jars of preserves make a nice summertime gift. Dress them up with a gingham jar-cap cover and a small wooden or ceramic spoon, like jams you can find packaged in Amish markets.
- About half a gallon of cleaned watermelon rinds (Cut the top of an empty half-gallon plastic milk job for a good measure.)
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 4 Tbsp salt
- 4 Cups granulated sugar
- 2 Quarts (8 Cups) cold water (I use spring water for this step)
- 1/4 Cup lemon juice
- 1 Whole Lemon, washed and sliced thinly (keep the peel on)
- 7 Cups water (spring water)
- For a spicier taste, add cinnamon and cloves to taste.
- On a clean cutting board, place the water melon rinds and carefully cut off the green skins and pink meat left. Skins are very thin, so don’t cut off too much rind. Gather up the cuttings for the compost pile and wipe off the cutting board.
- Take the rinds on the board and cut then into 1-inch cubes or slices and place them in a large mixing bowl.
- In a pitcher, dissolve the 4 Tbsp salt in 1 quart (4 cups) of the spring water and pour the salt solution over the watermelon rind.
- Let the brine and rind stand on the counter, covered, for 5-6 hours.
- Drain the brine off the watermelon rind and discard it.
- Rinse the rind cubes well in cold spring water and drain them once again.
- In the same bowl, cover rinds again with cold spring water and let stand for ½ hour.
- Drain the rinds again.
- In a medium sized pot over medium heat, place the rinds and sprinkle the ground ginger over the watermelon rind. Toss with a fork. Cover with spring water and cook until fork-tender.
- Remove from heat and drain the watermelon rind again.
- Combine sugar, lemon juice, and 7 cups spring water in the pitcher, mix, and pour over the rind. Replace on the stove top (add cinnamon and cloves at this step if you wish.)
- Raise the heat to medium high. Boil the mixture for 4 minutes, reduce heat somewhat and boil more gently for 25 minutes.
- Add sliced lemon and cook until the melon rind becomes translucent.
- Pack rinds and lemons in pint size clean canning or jam jars with 1/4 inch head space open. (half-pint jars can also be used). Place the caps on the jars and screw on the rings carefully and not completely tight.
Hot Water Bath Processing
- Lower pint jars in a soup pot of boiling water with a set of tongs. Water needs to cover the tops of the jars, submerging them.
- Let jars remain in hot water for 20 minutes. Remove form water with tongs and sit on a cutting board or towel on the kitchen counter. When you hear the lids “pop” they are sealed and you can screw down the lid rings more tightly.
Tomatoes, watermelons, and hot and bell-type peppers of all types, along with spring water, are recommended by many professionals as dietary elements that can help ward off certain illnesses, such as colds, some types of flu, and certain cancers. They enhance the health of many body systems and provide much-needed vitamins as well. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as often as you can.
© 2009 Patty Inglish MS