You need pectin to set jellies and jams. It just doesn’t have to come out of a packet. During these days, we especially don’t need to be running to the supermarket for that one additional item, especially one that isn’t essential. At least it isn’t essential in packet form. Serrano peppers, apples, and citrus fruits provide exactly the right amount of pectin for a soft and flavorful jelly that is lovely on any cheese or used as a glaze on meats.
So there you have the explanation of “No Pectin”. Now you need the meaning of “by Demand”. My jellies, marmalades, and chutneys make great hostess gifts. It so happened that I had given a jar to my sister that lives nearby. She served it at one of her book or quilting club meetings and everyone asked for the recipe. Oh, oh. It was one of my “just add stuff from the fridge and we will eat it if it works” recipes. I felt like a fraud when I told my sister that I didn’t have the recipe–like I was too mean to share if you know what I mean.
My own version of America’s Test Kitchen was about to take place. I vaguely remembered that I had used apples or oranges and of course lemons, as they are necessary to set my marmalade. Peppers? Which peppers? I knew I had bought them at the Asian Market next to Taco Bell on Palm Coast Parkway. A trip to the market showed me the label of the size and shape of hot pepper I remembered–Serrano and not Jalapeno. I also picked up a bag of Gala apples as they were there and the price was right. Granny Smith are loaded with pectin and almost always available at the supermarket, they just often cost a bit more. Since it was March when I made my last batch (yes, I have procrastinated in writing this post), I was able to use a couple of Honeybell oranges that I had in the fridge and a large Meyer Lemon picked from a neighborhood tree. Any large oranges or large lemon or a couple of lemons will suffice since we are now out of both of those seasons in Florida.
What follows is the actual recipe that I took care to write down as I went along in case it worked. And it did!
Serrano Pepper Jelly
2 large Honeybell or other oranges, cut in quarters peel and all
1 large Meyer lemon or 2 smaller lemons, cut in quarters peel and all
3 lbs Gala or Granny Smith or any apples you might find or have on hand, quartered, skin, seeds and all
1/2 lb Serrano chiles, whole
3 Cups vinegar–I used half cider and half white as that is what I had. All cider would be best if you wondered.
3 1/2 Cups sugar (7/8 Cup per cup of juice)
- Boil and mash all except the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use a potato masher to mash then strain through cheesecloth and a sieve for several hours or overnight. Don’t squeeze or you may get cloudy jelly. You should have 4 Cups of juice. If you don’t have enough, add water. If you have more, increase the sugar. (Remember: 7/8 Cup sugar to each cup of liquid)
- Add the sugar to the strained liquid. Heat gently to dissolve. Bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes and skim any scum that appears. Continue to boil until a digital thermometer reads 222 degrees. Check for set on a cold plate or by rolling the spoon and the drops join to one. It will take longer than just reaching 222 degrees.
- Pour the hot liquid into jars that have been sterilized in the dishwasher or in a 200 degrees oven for 10 minutes. Leave about 1/8 to 1/4 inch at the top. Tighten lids and turn upside down overnight. This together with the vinegar in the recipe helps to preserve and seal for cupboard storage.
- Check the set when cool. If it is still too liquid, you can reboil until the right set. Redo the sterilized jars the same way. This keeps without refrigeration until it is opened. It makes about 4 half-pint jars.
So there you have it, sister and friends. I was going to say, make it now for your next book club or gettogether. I think I better say, make it for yourself, you deserve it!