Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hot Pepper Jelly

Last Christmas my aunt Judy set out some hot pepper jelly to eat on crackers with cream cheese on the hors d'oeuvres table. She'd found it at Costco and it was really good.

This year my friend Ginny posted on her blog about her hot pepper jelly so I thought I'd try my hand at it.

Andrew took Benjamin and Zoë grocery shopping this morning while I slept in. Last night was awful. I knew it. He knew it. And probably half the neighbourhood knew it as well.

Sleep. What is it good for?

So after feeding Zoë at 8:00 in the morning, a perfectly decent hour to get up on a Saturday morning unless you've been feeding a baby the whole night long, I fed Zoë (again)and then pushed her over to Andrew's side of the bed. She batted his face until he woke up and took her out and I went back to sleep.

He came back with groceries and all the ingredients to make the hot pepper jelly, including three jalapeños in case I wanted to make it "a little hotter," as stated in the recipe. This evening I got busy and made hot pepper jelly for the first time while Andrew and Rachel watched Indiana Jones and Zoë fussed and Benjamin and Miriam went to bed.

It turned out fairly well and I was just putting everything into the canner when the movie ended (Ginny's recipe doesn't say to put the jars in a water bath but other similar recipes I found did so I did just to be on the safe side).

"Did you use two jalapeños or three?" Andrew asked.

"Three," I said.

"Wow. Going for hotter," he said, impressed.

"Well, the recipe is from a Canadian friend, so..." I started to explain.

"Ah," he said knowingly.

Sorry, Canadians, but you don't do spicy. I know people—Canadian people—who put ketchup on their tacos instead of salsa. Generally speaking, the farther south you go the spicier the food gets, from my experience. I'm sure that's not true everywhere, but I think it's probably true along the 114th meridian west (or thereabouts).

Now, flavour, on the other hand, that's something Canadians do. Americans, from my observation, seem to prefer—even enjoy—plain flavours. "Original" chips are a big favourite down here. Sorry, Americans, but salt is not exactly a flavour. Canadians prefer their chips bursting with flavour: all dressed, salt and vinegar, ketchup. Yum. Plain salt? Almost not worth eating.


My next problem is that I'm not really all that good at canning stuff. I was supposed to put the jars into the water while the water was hot but not boiling and then I was supposed to bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for five minutes. Sounds simple enough but how was I supposed to tell when the water was boiling if I had the lid on?

"I know how!" Andrew said, and he made a mad dash for his new kitchen thermometer (which he was supposed to get for Christmas but which he sneaked open while he was cooking dinner some Friday night while the kids and I were at ukulele—the little cheater).

I opened the lid and he stuck his thermometer in.

"208 degrees," he said.

"Wow," I said. "So definitely boiling then. Is that even possible!?"

"What do you mean?" Andrew asked. "Boiling point is 212."

"Oh! 208 Fahrenheit! That makes more sense because I was thinking Celsius and 208 Celsius is like, whoa."

"Molten water," Andrew joked.

Luckily this thermometer can switch to Celsius at the press of a button. Snazzy.

I'm really pretty okay thinking in Fahrenheit for a lot of things now. Outside temperatures usually make sense. Body temperatures and ovens are easy. But I honestly don't think I have ever discussed what the boiling point of water might be in Fahrenheit. Freezing I've discussed lots in Fahrenheit because the weather gets cold enough to freeze stuff (even this far south) but it doesn't get hot enough to boil stuff (thank goodness).

Celsius is so easy: water freezes at 0°C and boils at 100°C.

Fahrenheit is so arbitrary: water freezes at 32°F and boils at 212°F.

Can't Americans just adopt Celsius already? And the metric system while we're at it, too? Please?

It's easier, I promise. And I don't think I can keep stuffing these random numbers in my head and have them continue making sense...

At any rate, the jelly tastes great. I even made Andrew try it. He wasn't a huge fan, but since it's pepper jelly, that was to be expected. I canned four (bigger than the ones called for in the recipe) jars and kept a container uncanned for the fridge.

Now we can have fancy hors d'oeuvres on Christmas.

How grown up of us!


  1. Apparently Geramans don't really like spicy either or too sweet for that matter. They want like half the amount of sugar in their deserts. Weirdos! I feed my kids salsa as soon as they will eat it ;)

  2. I think I like things spicy! You'll have to test me sometime! But I agree on the flavor thing! Though I had to laugh that you spelled flavor the Canadian way. . .although maybe that makes sense since we seem to know what flavor is! Also totally in agreement on the metric system thing. I still am only so-so with converting outside temperatures from F to C. I finally just changed it in my phone so it would tell me what the outside temperature is in C. why convert when my phone can do it for me :) PS We had Christmas today because we don't want to bring a lot of stuff to Canada. Robby loved the book you recommended! We're excited to read it as a fam!

    1. Sweeping generalizations, Courtney. After all, I'm Canadian, too... :) Have fun going home for Christmas!

      Good luck with your reading!

  3. By chips did you mean potato chips or french fries because I totally love flavorful potato chips? Original is too boring. And I like ketchup with french fries unless they have that spicy salt on them like Red Robin has. Then I can take or leave the ketchup. Vinegar ... never. I loathe it.

    Glad your jelly turned out well! Funny about thinking 208 was C! :D

    1. Potato chips. As a general population, the United States is much more enamoured with plain chips than Canada is. That isn't to say that no one likes them (because you do) BUT there isn't quite the selection that exists elsewhere. I meant to link up to this xkcd comic but forgot to. It's pretty funny.

      Ketchup flavoured chips are a yummy, yummy thing in Canada. :)

      Not ketchup WITH chips, but ketchup-flavoured chips.

      Vinegar flavoured chips are also a thing. But also vinegar on fries (like, McDonald's has packets of vinegar to squirt on your fries, to go along with ketchup if you like (and I do)). I've never been to Red Robin.

      The jelly turned out a little too runny, actually. But it still tastes good. :)

    2. I usually don't waste my calories on plain chips. I only like them with french onion dip.

      I've never tried ketchup-flavored chips. That sounds interesting and not too bad (kind of like crunchy, thin french fries, I guess.) I like BBQ, and sour cream & onion chips.

      I think Five Guys offers vinegar for fries. Again, I don't like vinegar so I avoid it at all costs, usually. (My dad, on the other hand, has ruined good slaw by adding vinegar to it!)

      You should sign up for Red Robin's birthday club. That's about the only time we go. :)

      Glad the jelly tastes good!

      How did the gingerbread house turn out? Did your kids eat it?

  4. About twenty years ago, I read this in an airline magazine. From the then-president's czar over the U.S. converting, "The United States is inching inexorably towards metrification." What, not 2.54 centimetering