Saturday, August 14, 2010

Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly

The other night, after making my third summertime batch of my world-famous chow chow, I found myself with several leftover red bell peppers. I wasn't in the mood for grilling or stir-frying, so I pulled out my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and found this recipe. I whipped up a batch and have already added it to the repertoire.

It's quite complex. Like a good wine, it hits you in several waves. First sweet, then tangy, then that prickle of spicy heat at the back of your throat. It would be delicious as a glaze (or just condiment) for pork or salmon. I think I'm going to try it on a roast beef sandwich. And it was a hit at a party the other night when I poured it over cream cheese and served it with crackers.

Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly
Makes about seven 4 ounce jars.

5 medium red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded
3 medium jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and deveined (I left one pepper whole for a little more spice.)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I substituted apple cider vinegar in a pinch.)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package (1.75 ounces) regular powdered fruit pectin
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar

Finely dice enough red pepper to measure 1/2 cup and set aside. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pureé remaining red peppers, jalapeño peppers and garlic until smooth.

Transfer pureé to a fine mesh strainer lined with several layers of moistened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for 30 minutes. Measure 1 1/2 cups pepper juice. (If you don't have the required amount, add 1/2 cup boiling water to the remaining pulp to extract additional juice.)

Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

Transfer pepper juice to a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Add reserved diced red pepper, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.

Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

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