I love to make pepper jelly and my friends and family love to eat pepper jelly – win-win. With Christmas right around the corner, what better homemade gift than red and green jars of pepper jelly?
If you have made jams or jellies before, maybe you have cringed a little as you pour in all that sugar! Ugh. I knew there had to be another way. Making this sweet red pepper jelly with no white sugar was almost as easy as making my usual hot pepper jelly, I just needed to do a few extra steps. The red peppers, of course, were a gift from a friend. I am sure that will make this jelly all the sweeter!
This year I decided to make my green pepper jelly the usual way – with a little spicy kick and a lot of sugar but I decided to try something a little bit different with my red pepper jelly – I wanted it to be sweet and I didn’t want to use any white sugar. Generally, when you use the regular Certo pectin, you need a lot of sugar to make the “jelling” action turn your lovely pepper puree into actual pepper jelly. After a little searching, I came across Pomona’s Universal Pectin – a pectin that doesn’t require the use of any sugar. Bingo!
Before you make the jelly …
First, the box of Pomona’s Universal Pectin comes with two packets. One packet is the pectin and the other (smaller) packet is the calcium powder. Before you start the jelly process, you need to make some calcium water. Put 1/2 teaspoon white calcium powder and 1/2 cup water in a small clear jar with a lid. You can keep this jar of calcium water in your fridge for a couple of months and use it as needed.
Gather the ingredients …
1 to 2 pounds of red peppers, or mostly red peppers – about 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped pepper
1 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons of Pomona pectin powder
2 teaspoons calcium water
6 1/2 pint jars and lids
1. Finely chop peppers and put into a blender. Add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Puree.
2. Put pureed peppers and the remaining 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar into a large pot. Add the calcium water.
3. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for about 5 minutes.
4. Stir pectin powder into 1/2 cup of the honey until the pectin powder is dissolved.
5. Add the remaining 1 cup of honey. Stir.
6. Add the pectin-honey mixture into the pot. Bring to a boil. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Return to boil and remove from heat.
7. Using a funnel, pour into prepared jars.
Preparing the Jars … This step can seem a little overwhelming – but as soon as you do it just once, you will realize that it’s not that hard!
I wash my jars in the dishwasher right before I need them. Some people keep their jars on a cookie pan in the oven at 250 degrees. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t. For the lids, I simmer the two piece lids in a pot of water on the stove – don’t let it boil. I keep them in the hot water until I need them and then pull them out as needed with tiny tongs.
To boil the jars, bring a large pot of water to boil – you can put a canning rack in the bottom or a round cake cooling rack – this prevents the glass jars from touching the bottom of your pot directly. When the water comes to a boil, place the jars in the water – it’s best to use jar lifting tongs – they are only about $4 and they will prevent you from dropping glass jars or splashing boiling water on yourself. The water should be about an inch or so taller than the jars. Cover and let boil for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove from the heat and place on a towel to cool.
Preserving/Canning the Jelly … After you have filled the jars with red pepper jelly, leaving a bit of headroom – basically not quite to the top – secure the two piece lids. You should boil them for about 10 minutes. If I make a really small batch of jelly and I know that we are going to eat it in the next couple of weeks, I skip this step. However, if I am making a lot of jelly or giving it away for gifts, I boil the jars – you wouldn’t want your jelly to spoil after all this hard work! Enjoy!