Pepper Jelly, Another Southern Staple

Chances are, if you live in the southern USA, you have seen and tasted pepper jelly. Pepper jelly is one of those staples that can be used in many things.

Hostess Saver

It saves a hostess when guests show up; pour some pepper jelly over cream cheese and some crackers and you have a marvelous snack with wine, beer or even iced tea.

It adds a special something to pan-fried pork chops and makes scrambled eggs amazing. Slathering some onto a biscuit or over some ham will leave you in taste bud heaven.

While pepper jelly is a bit on the pricy side ($4.99 USD for a small 6 oz jar) it can be made rather quickly and you can adjust the heat to make it hot or just make it sweet.

When you make this, set aside time to give it your full attention because it needs to be stirred constantly to prevent lumping and scorching.

As always, when working with hot sugar, be careful. Keep a bowl of ice water near your working space so if you get splashed, you can plunge it into ice water to prevent a bad burn.

There are many recipes for pepper jelly. This one does not use a large amount of pectin so it sets on a medium gel which makes it perfect for pouring over cream cheese, making a sauce or slathering onto a nice hot buttermilk biscuit.

Pepper Jelly Biscuit with herb and cheese scrambled eggs

Southern Pepper Jelly

1 1/4 cup of finely diced red and orange peppers (one large pepper of each color)

3/4 cup finely diced green pepper

2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno pepper OR 1 small Habanero

Wear gloves when handling hot peppers. If you get the hot peppers on your skin, soak the skin in milk, 1/2 & 1/2 or cream.

Do not rub your eyes or touch small children or babies with hands that have just handled hot peppers.

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1.75 ounce package of powdered pectin

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Take your time cutting the peppers. The best jelly has lovely evenly diced cubes of multicolored peppers floating the jelly. If you just hack and chop, you see uneven strands and bits and pieces of peppers which isn’t so nice to look at through the jar or when you are eating the jelly.

Here is how to cut a nice looking pepper:

Wash the peppers and remove any sticky labels.

Trim the top and bottom off, remove the stem and save the trimmed ends for kebab or in a salad or stir-fry.

Remove the ribs and seeds, open the pepper so it lays flat, skin side down.

Carefully remove the membrane

See how much prettier the pepper is with the membrane removed?

Slice into julienne, cut even slices all the way down the pepper strip.

Turn the julienne and cut into dice. The cubes should be of even size.

Pepper Jelly, a southern staple and hostess saver.

Slice the pepper so it becomes one long strip. Lay the pepper out with the skin side down. Remove the seeds and ribs from inside the pepper.

Using a sharp knife, remove the membrane from the inside of the pepper, leaving the plump pepper flesh. Just take a very thin slice from the surface to remove the membrane.

Make long thin slices from the pepper (Julienne cut), then turn the strips and cut them into cubes. Do this carefully so you create a bowl full of nicely diced peppers.

Trust me, it really makes a difference to take the time to do it right.

Place the diced peppers, vinegar and pectin into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Be careful of vinegar fumes, turn your exhaust fan on so you don’t get all choked up.

When the mixture comes to a full rolling boil, add the sugar.

Return the mixture to another rolling boil, then boil it for 1 full minute while stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and skim off any foam that may have formed on the top.

You can process the jelly in canning jars, hot water bath etc to seal and make them shelf stable. (Great idea for gifts)

Or using clean, sterile jars, fill and invert them on the counter to cool. Once cool, turn them over and they seal will set, but you will need to refrigerate the jars.

This makes slightly over a pint.

Soften cream cheese, to fancy it up a bit, put it in a piping bag and pipe the cream cheese out in a decorative pattern rather than just plopping a chunk of cream cheese on a plate.

But if you want to, you can do it that way. Lots of southern folks do.

Pâté de Fruit et “Pâté du Vin”

These gleaming tender fruit gems known as “Pâté de Fruit” are delicious and irresistible. There are so many different recipes for these fruit geleés. If you want a real quality product, use a recipe that includes glucose syrup and pectin rather than gelatin.

These are considered quite a special gift and if purchased, this quality could be expensive.

Remember “Chuckles” candy from your childhood? Those are similar to fruit geleé but they had gelatin.

Gelatin, in my opinion, leaves the geleés much too “tough” and bouncy. The whole concept is for the geleé to have a slight tooth that melts into a pool of exploding fruit or wine flavor. There should be nothing to chew, just a lovely melting in your mouth and the slight crunch of the coating sugar.

The actual time required to make these isn’t much but it needs your full attention for about 20-30 minutes.

You have to whisk constantly while the mixture is on the heat. Then act fast after you remove it from the heat because the geleé mixture sets quickly.

Have everything you need ready to pour. After you pour the cooked mixture into the desired mold, let it sit for at least 8 hours, or longer, to set.

Do not refrigerate. Refrigeration will melt the sugar on the geleés.

So, Here’s how you do it

Please weigh all ingredients.

If you don’t have a small digital scale, go buy one. It is essential if you are serious about baking. They are not expensive but you can pay as much as you want to for one.

Wine or Fruit Geleé “Pâté de Vin/Fruit”

  • 3 ounces unsweetened applesauce
    • Spread it out on a parchment lined sheet pan. Place it in a preheated 200°F oven for 30 minutes. This is to evaporate some of the moisture out of the applesauce. Scrape it up with a bench scraper or spatula and put it into a heavy bottomed sauce pan with the following ingredients:
  • 8 ounces wine OR smooth and strained fruit puree (raspberry, strawberry, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, etc.)
  • 1 ounce light Karo syrup made without High Fructose Corn Syrup or use glucose syrup
  • One  3-ounce package liquid pectin or 3 ounces powdered pectin (not the one for low sugar)
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar for dusting the finished geleé

While applesauce is drying in the oven, prepare the mold you want to use. Spray it with non-stick pan spray or line it with parchment paper. Leave an overhang to make removing the geleé from the pan easy.

Blend the wine or fruit puree with the applesauce, syrup, liquid pectin in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.

If using powdered pectin, mix it with a small amount of the sugar to help prevent clumping.

Over high heat, while whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.

Add half of the sugar, once it melts and nears boiling, add the remaining sugar.

Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Whisk constantly to avoid scorching and clumping.

Add the lemon juice.

Working quickly, pour into desired molds, smooth with a spatula, cover with an oiled parchment paper and let sit for 8-12 hours.

If you made one pan, remove the geleé to a cutting board and cut into desired shapes.

If you used candy or silicone molds remove them carefully from the molds.

Dip each geleé into sugar to coat. Serve or place in an airtight container and hold them at room temperature for several months.

If you like these and enjoy making fruit geleés, check out  Passion Fruit Geleés by Savory Simple.

Our recipes area similar and she has cups and tablespoon measurements on her recipe for Passion Fruit Geleé.

Enjoy making and eating these tender morsels of Pâté de Fruit or Pâté de Vin. I think they are quite special.