Since The House is on Fire…

“Since the house is on fire, let us warm ourselves.”- Italian Proverb

Last Sunday we bombed off to the valley and spent the day in Wolfville. We had intentions of going apple picking because that is what everyone else seems to do in the fall around here. Instead we accidentally found ourselves at a vineyard sampling a variety of wines. Then we not so accidentally stumbled upon a second and then a third winery. It was a beautiful day and the wine kept us very warm against the crisp fall air. Needless to say, the apple picking didn’t happen and I don’t regret that one teensie, little bit. We visited Grand Pre’, Luckettes and Blomidon vineyards. Sample sets are inexpensive and we were able to try around fifteen wines for about fifteen dollars. There are seven vineyards in the valley and all only a five to ten minute drive apart! I highly recommend trying them out.

On our way back I had to stop at a few of the local farm market’s, seeing as how I had nothing to show for the day except purple lips. I picked up green peppers for a song. Around 40 green peppers, locally produced for just under five dollars. I bought a massive bag of hot peppers as well and formulated a plan in my head to try my hand at “canning”. I figured hot pepper jelly was just as good of a first attempt as any.

The next day I purchased supplies and researched a few recipes. I de-veined and de-seeded what felt like a million peppers. I poured everything into my pot (double, double, boil and trouble) following directions to a tee. The problem with directions is they don’t often distinguish small details from one another. I learned the hard way that there is actually a big difference between a “rolling boil” and a “flaming inferno”. If you have ever made preserves, you know that you must boil an awful lot of sugar. Sugar boils fast and it boils hot. It also hits the “rolling boil” for about an eighth of a second and then is boiling over into a “flaming inferno”. I set my stove on fire. Literally on fire, flames up to my over-range microwave. Flames that somehow managed to stun my critical thinking centre for a few seconds, as I had never in my life seen such a fire indoors and not in a fireplace. My brain did eventually kick in and with a little water tossed on, I was good to go. I did end up making three batches and avoiding any further fires. Although processing jars of jelly is a pain in the behind, there is something wonderful about the “pop” those lids make as they seal themselves tight. Recipe and pics below. Happy canning and extinguishing all!

Hot Pepper Jelly (adapted from All Recipes)

This jelly is delicious and makes a wonderful hostess gift around the holiday season. It is also great to have on hand for when unexpected guests arrive. Serve on top of a log of goats cheese or cream cheese with your favourite crackers.

Tip– Original recipe makes around six small jelly jars, sterilize your jars and lids prior to starting. I wash mine in hot soapy water and then throw them through the dishwasher on “hot-as-hell” and heated dry. Also make batches one at a time. Doubling a preserve recipe almost always fails….

You will need:

  • 1 Cup chopped bell pepper (I used green) de-seeded and de-veined
  • 1/2 cup of chopped hot peppers such as jalapeno, de-seeded and de-veined (if you like heat like me, leave some of those seeds in there!)
  • 5 cups of white sugar
  • 1.5 cups cider vinegar (white would work too)
  • 1 optional sprinkle of cayenne pepper when boiling
  • 6 fluid ounces of liquid pectin

In your food processor, toss in chopped bell peppers and hot peppers and mince. Combine vinegar, sugar and peppers in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a “rolling boil”…watching closely to prevent “flaming inferno”. Boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for ~5 minutes. While stirring constantly add pectin and allow to cool for 2 minutes further. Then stir again for one minute. Pour into your hot sterile jars and lid- wiping rim with a clean cloth before applying the rim .Make sure you leave at least half an inch of head room. Process jars in boiling water -submerged with at least 1″of water over tops of jars. Boil for ten minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Store in a cool, dark place! Easy enough eh?

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