Hot Chile Pepper & Apple-Cranberry Jelly

I based this recipe heavily on this one, but as I do, I made a few changes of my own.

  • 4-5 lbs of very tart apples – unpeeled, chopped, including cores (where much of the pectin is). I used small wild apples that grow all over our property which were just about as sour as a Granny Smith. The more sour an apple, the more pectin it has. You really don’t want to use a sweet apple with this recipe. If you don’t have access to crab-apples, then a Granny Smith is a good substitute.
  • various chile peppers, chopped and seeded if you want to decrease the heat.  I used 4 green jalapeños, 8 ripe Serranos, 8 red Mexi-belles, and 3 red Anaheims  none of which I seeded. This gave the jelly a pervasive, but subtle heat. And remember, the heat will lessen dramatically after you add in all your sugar. Basically, use whatever you want to get the amount of heat you want. If you really like heat, add in some habaneros, unseeded if you’re really adventuresome.
  • 1 poblano pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 16 oz of cranberries
  • 3-5 cups of water
  • 3 cups of white vinegar
  •  7/8 C of white sugar for each cup of juice. I had 8 C juice so I used 7 cups of sugar.

This recipe yielded 11 8oz jars, which is a lot.  The amount of juice you end up with depends both on how much water you add and how juicy your apples naturally are.

Place all the peppers and fruit (including apple cores!) with the water and vinegar in a very large pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes until the apples, peppers and cranberries are quite soft. Be certain to stir to make sure nothing sticks or burns. Once soft, pass through a food mill, or mash with a vegetable masher.

Ladle/pour  everything into either a very fine sieve suspended over a large bowl/pot or over several layers of cheesecloth which have been folded over themselves at least 4 layers thick. I attach the cheesecloth to the sides of a large pot with clothes pins.  Allow it to sit for several hours until as much juice as will drain out has come out. If the pulp is too thick and nothing is coming out you can add more water. You will want to end up with at least 4 cups of juice. However, when I made this, I used 5 cups of water and ended up with 8 cups of juice. All that means is that you get more jelly!

Pour juice into a large pot and add the sugar (7/8 of a cup for each cup of juice). Heat gently and stir to make sure nothing sticks or burns.

Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for 1 minute. Skim off any foam, or add in a knob of butter when beginning to boil to avoid the foam all together.  Test to see if the jelly is set by putting a small dollop on a chilled plate. If the jelly wrinkles when you push it with your finger after putting a bit on the chilled plate (Put plates in the freezer when I started to boil the juice with the sugar).

Sterilise your jars and rings by putting them through a hot cycle in your dishwasher, and soaking your lids in boiling water for several minutes. Pour the jelly into a large juice pitcher and then pour into your jars, being careful to leave 1/4 inch of head space and not to touch the inside of the jars at all else they get contaminated. Place lids on and screw on the rings tightly. The jars will be very hot so you’ll have to probably use a tea towel to avoid burning yourself. Invert the jars for 5 minutes and then flip back over. There is no need to hot-water bath process most jams and jellies as they have enough acid and were heated to high enough a temperature to kill bacteria, especially if you sterilise your jars well beforehand.

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