Red Pepper Jelly 2013
I know when its time. Organic red peppers are in my food coop. They are $11/kilo – enough to make me wonder if the price point is too much, but they are beautiful. Big, heavy, juicy – they will make amazing jelly.
I‘ve been working on this recipe for a couple of years now. Last year I just bbq’d them – that was it. This year I am really playing with it – adding in smoked, and fresh (uncooked) slices into the mix – sort of like a pickle.
I feel as if I am still working on it. Between last year and this year I have become more aware of the effect of different vinegary acids – wine, apple cider vinegar – and how these mix with regular vinegar in a chutney or jelly. I’ve also been playing with the points at which one introduces a flavour into the mix.
Vinegar mix tasters
In exploring this relationship between different types of vinegars, and following on from a couple of earlier blogs this month, I’ve set myself up with a variety of taster bottles. The idea of these is that I can sample a variety of vinegar combinations ahead of time to see which might be best for the particular chutney/jelly I’m working on. Sugar is a constant – 100g per bottle – and the vinegar/wine is added so there is 100g vinegar/whatever and 100g sugar in each taster. As of yesterday I now have 6 of these: white wine vinegar in 90/10, 75/25, 65/35 and 50/50; red wine vinegar 50/50 and apple cider vinegar 50/50. I’ll be putting more of the red wine and apple cider together shortly. Last year I tried 50/50 apple cider vinegar/white vinegar. This year I wound up using a 50/50 red wine mix – though in truth I didn’t quite have enough red wine so it was augmented with apple cider vinegar.
The basic mix
Here is the basic mix of this recipe:The weight of peppers is ‘1’.
- Peppers and other ingredients: 1 (PLEASE NOTE: weigh the peppers for their ratio AFTER they have been processed!)
- total vinegar:1
- salt 5%.
- Other flavorings to taste.
- In terms of the final total quantity, multiply the ‘1’ ratio – however much it is – by 2.74 to determine the final volume of the whole batch. So, if you have 1 kilo of peppers and other ingredients, you will get 2.74L of final product.
This is for a 1kg final weight of peppers/garlic/onion. Adjust as needed.
- 1kg total weight that includes BBQ’d red peppers, 1 roasted bulb of garlic, 1 roasted small – medium onion.
- 500ml red wine
- 500 ml white vinegar
- 1kg brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinamon
- 4 tsp corriander (Next year I would toast the whole seed, then crack them open so they appear as corriander chunks.)
- 50g salt
- Hot stuff: 4 tsp chillis/hot pickled peppers/cayenne to taste for hotness
- Thickener: Although I used agar-agar yesterday, I would likely use Certo in the future, now that I have a better sense of this recipe. With Agar, you can make up the whole mix first; with Certo, you mix in the sugar near the end.
- Sort out peppers: keep one to julienne fresh, one to dry, the rest cut in half – try 1/3 of them to be smoked 2/3 roasted on bbq.
- Chop a fresh pepper into quite small ‘not quite diced’ pieces. (at least this is what I would do next year. This year I julienned them thin in the food processor, and they do not have that fresh crunch I was hoping for)
- Cut peppers in half & coat in olive oil, & herb mixture (coated in oil with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, cumin)
- BBQ: Have a spritzer bottle of water ready! Use 2/3 of the coated peppers. Set up the BBQ smoker ( a small metal box with wood chips) under your grill. Fire the BBQ, and once hot, cook the 2/3 batch of peppers, a whole garlic bulb and the medium onion. These should be cooked before the smoker ignites and starts to smoke. Remove them from the bbq.
- When the BBQ reaches 450-500, place the 1/3 batch of pepper halves inside-down above the smoker. Once the smoker starts to go (the wood chips are smoking) turn off the bbq. If it flames, spritz it. Leave the smoked peppers in the covered bbq for a couple of minutes until cooked, but not charred. (Hint to manufacturers: would be cool to have see through bbq lids! )
- Peel the roasted garlic and onion
- Weigh the total pepper mix (bbq, smoked, fresh,) to establish your ‘1’ for the vinegar/sugar/salt syrop
- Puree 3/4 of the bbq/smoked peppers, the garlic and the onion and pour in your cooking pot.
- Fine chop the rest of the peppers. You should now have a bowl of fresh peppers, a bowl of roasted pepper pieces, and a mash of roasted red pepper, garlic and onion.
- Boil 11-12 250 ml jars (based on the 2.74 factor noted earlier; put lids in colander to boil also.
- Add sugar (read pectin directions first – you may need to add this later), wine, vinegar, cinnamon, coriander, hot pepper and salt to the mash
- Mise en scene at this point: syrup mix on the stove or bbq, bbq/smoked chopped peppers, julienned fresh peppers, pectin, 250 ml jars in a canning pot, lids in a colander, canning tongs, oven mitts/dry cloths.
- Bring liquid mix to a boil
- Remove jars from hot water (or oven if you use this method)
- Distribute bbq/smoked peppers into jars
- Spoon in fresh peppers
- Add pectin following pectin directions
- Pour syrup over peppers and place the lids on
- Can for 10 minutes
Pot for jars
Pot for sauce
Jars and lids
Where to go from here
Next year I would make the following changes:
- toast and crack the coriander, and perhaps reduce the amount
- try a 75/25 red wine vinegar combination. I feel this version needs more calming, more body.
- use Certo – as I’m sure about the sugar/vinegar ratio now
- use half the amount of garlic, but crush it fresh into the jars before they are filled.