Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sweet Red Pepper Jelly


There's a back story as to how I discovered this sweet and savory jelly. My story goes way back before my 26 year old son was born. A former neighbor of ours served a jar of her homemade red pepper jelly, along
with cream cheese and crackers at a neighborhood Christmas party.

I had never even heard of red pepper jelly, but I obediently prepared my cracker as she instructed me to do.

Whoa! What?!  My taste buds were vibrating with delight, as my taste buds danced between sweet, tangy and a little bit of heat.  I was seriously considering shoving the entire tray into my purse, and sneaking out of her house to my own-- so I could greedily eat the whole shebang. But, that would be rude. So, I listened to my good conscience. Reluctantly.

I asked my neighbor for the recipe,and she kept saying she'd get it to me. But, sadly, she never did.  Then we moved away and on occasion, I would think about that jelly with a nostalgic longing for it.  I did find a similar jelly made by Stonewall Kitchen.   It's really delicious, at about $8.00 per jar.  Still, I always wanted to make my own.

In recent years, I've searched high and low, for recipes for red pepper jelly.  There are lots of them, and most of them use green bell peppers and lots of jalapeño peppers.  I even saw some recipes that uses habanero peppers. Nope, that's not what I was looking for.  I'm a whimp when it comes to really spicy foods, and I didn't want the taste of  the jalapeños to overwhelm the sweetness of the red bell peppers.

Jarden Home Brands, the company that makes all of our beloved Ball and Kerr products, sent me a copy of their 37th Edition of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  The 37th edition of Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving offers 200 pages that will guide you while you learn about preserving. This book provides information about equipment and step-by-step instructions for each preserving method. Also included are over 500 recipes for canning, pickling, dehydrating, freezing food, and much more! 

If you are at the stage of wanting to learn how to can-- this book has it all. I taught myself how to make jam for the first time, in 2009. I learned everything from the original Ball Canning Blue Book, starting with this strawberry jam, and a canning kit--  and I have discovered that canning isn't difficult at all!  In fact, it's fun and addicting (more on that later). Now that I'm more advanced, I found plenty of new recipes that I will be making.

I am a frequent visitor to the Fresh Preserving WebsiteThat is where I can find almost many recipes ideas for making jams and jellies (and more). I can watch "how to" videos and I order my canning supplies as well.  I couldn't find a Red Pepper Jelly recipe, per se. So I adapted the Pepper Jelly Recipe by substituting red bell peppers, instead of green bell peppers. 

I seriously debated whether or not I wanted to use jalapeños. Would it be too hot? Would it detract from the red bell peppers? What to do?! I had also seen variations using hot sauce or red pepper flakes. In the end, I reduced the recipe from 2-3 jalapeños to one.  I used my food processor to pulse the peppers finely. Then, I pressed the peppers through a fine sieve colander, to remove the excess water.

I will admit that Jarden Home Brand has spoiled me, for sure.  Over the last three years, they have sent me the Ball Canning Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker and the Ball Automatic Home Canning System. Yes, they cost some pretty pennies-- about $83.00 and $299.00 respectively.  My kind of canning is "small batch" because I'm not canning enough food to last until the apocalypse.  It's just the two of us.  So, these two technical marvels makes my canning so much quicker-- like in one hour, I have six half-pint jars of preserves.

Fear not! You don't have to go out and buy these marvels of canning technology products.  You can still use a pot and a stove, and you'll get great results.  So, here's my jelly and it smells fantastic!

While the Automatic Jam & Jelly maker was stirring my concoction, at the perfect temperature and time, I sterilized my jars in the Automatic Canner.  Then, I filled them. I used these cute new Ball® Design Series Jar Lids with Bands, in matching red. I just love them.

Once I placed the jars into the Auto Canner, all I had to do was press two buttons and walk away.
Or, you can use a canning pot with a rack and water can the old-fashioned and reliable way, too.

I held the jelly up to the light, and was happy to see that the peppers were evenly distributed. Yay!

Whenever I make jam or jelly, I always place a little bit into a small bowl so it will set almost immediately. That way, I can make sure that the pectin did it's job well.  I was thrilled to see that my jelly was perfectly set.

Of course, in the interest of quality control, I had to test out the jelly.  A dollop of this jelly on top of cream cheese and a cracker is a must. Here I go...

TASTING NOTES:  Oh wow!  Oh my!  I am so happy that I don't have to look any further for a Red Pepper Jelly recipe. This is it.  I got the perfect balance of sweet, tart (from the vinegar) and then a very subtle heat from the jalapeño.  There are other ways to enjoy this jelly-- as a "kicked up" PBJ sandwich, on chicken or salmon... use your imagination. Oh. I figure that it cost about $2.50 per jar for me to make this, so it's also cost-saving...and being homemade, it's priceless!

A printable recipe card is at the very end of this post- and I've also included a reduced-sugar recipe, as well. Just keep on scrolling down!

GIVEAWAY:  On Saturday August 1st, Jarden Home Brands will host this year’s fifth annual Can-It-Forward Day, broadcast live online at from 11AM – 4PM EST from the new state-of-the-art Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana. An event celebrating the joys of fresh preserving, Can-It-Forward Day encourages gardeners & food enthusiasts across the country to celebrate what “Made From Here” means to them by fresh preserving their favorite local ingredients in peak season. The webcast will have an integrated chat function where consumers can submit their home canning questions to be answered in real time. New this year, there will also be an exciting celebrity mason jar auction unveiled during the webcast!

Just leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of the new and updated  Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and a coupon for a case of jars. Please share anything you want about canning-- are you an expert, beginner-- or is canning something you've always wanted to learn, but haven't gotten started?

"Like" Ball Canning on Facebook for an extra entry.

"Follow" Ball Canning on Instagram or on Twitter for additional entries.

Just leave another comment letting me know.

I will randomly choose a winner on Saturday, July 25th.  (Offer only for Continental US residents, please.)
Good luck!

Get canning!  The sky is the limit with what you can make, and who doesn't love homemade canned goods as gifts?!

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Susan Sevig said...

Anxious to try this recipe, Debby. Appreciate all the work you do to get it to us. This will be used this winter. I find red peppers very reasonable in the Mexican grocery stores in PHX.

Susan Sevig said...

I "liked" Ball Canning on Facebook.

Domestic Diva said...

I am a beginner canner and spell check doesn't like that word! I love spicy foods and would love to put garden bounty into jars without fear of botulism. So I will be checking out the Ball canning website!

Jeff said...

Can't find the recipe card!

bellini said...

I'm glad you found exactly the recipe you are looking for Debby. I would have reduced the heat too, since I am also a whip :-)

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Jeff, You don't have a profile or contact available so I hope that you check back for my response. I have my email address all over my blog ( Had you emailed me, I would have sent you the direct link to my recipe. Are you sure it's not there? Did you scroll to the very end of my post? I can see TWO recipe cards-- one for the regular recipe, one for reduced sugar. It's there! I can see it using Mozilla, Explorer, Google Chrome and from my iPad and iPhone using Safari. Look again... and if you still can't see it, please email me.
Sorry for the inconvenience.

Lindsay Lee said...

I have never canned before but I would LOVE to start!!!

Lindsay Lee said...

I like Ball Canning on FB (Lindsay Lee)

Lindsay Lee said...

I follow Ball Canning on instagram (

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

What a great setup for making jams and jellies! I like pepper jelly just the way you make it, Debby. I think it would make nice holiday gifts for special people.

Lindsay Lee said...

I follow ball canning via twitter (@linzaleetus)

Amber Ashmore said...

I have never canned before, but have always wanted to try!

Anonymous said...

I am a big canner, but more so in jams, jellys, berries, etc. I do some broccoli freezing but never dealt with types like this having pepperish type stuff in there.

Mary Ann D said...

I'm an intermediate canner. I can jellies, jams, marmalades, chutneys & tomatoes. Still need to learn to can the rest.

Dee said...

Like so many people, I grew up eating the foods that my grandmother canned. I didn't truly appreciate those foods until I grew up and sadly, my grandmother was no longer here to show me how. I'm now 60 and have never canned anything although I've always wanted to try.
I'm also a big fan of red pepper jelly, so I think I'll try your recipe as my first canning experience!

stacief said...

I would love to learn how to can...I say i will do it each year, but am a bit afraid of it. This is great motivation.

gudie said...

I have tried canning, with no luck. Will be trying this recipe in hope of success.

Chance said...

I make strawberry rhubarb jam every spring, and haven't tried to can anything else, but I think I will give your pepper jam a try!

DebrafromMD said...

I love pepper jam and can't wait to give your recipe a try.

Mary P. said...

I'm a fairly new canner--only been doing this for about three years--but I love it! Jams, pickles, fruits, it.

AnnaZed said...

I have been making a lovely jam of Blackberries/Lemon/Vanilla/Turbinado Sugar (which is exactly what it sounds like it is). You have to use real vanilla beans though!
margueritecore [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Hey there your recipes are so lovely. You can use the same dip on Potatoes wedges.Potato chips or crisp as you guys call it would work too but the wider floury volume of a Potato wedge and its crunchy feel is out of this world