Fruit jelly is good, but only a jar of hot pepper jelly can give us that sweet and spicy flavor that gets our appetite going. No wonder hot pepper jelly is a favorite when it comes to making appetizers, snacks, finger food, and dips.
Hot Pepper Jelly Trivia
- One of Karen McCombie’s books is titled Amber and the Hot Pepper Jelly.
- Linda J. Amendt, in the book Blue Ribbon Preserves: Secrets to Award-Winning Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More, wrote about jalapeno pepper jelly, a popular kind of hot pepper jelly, which Amendt describes as “a gourmet delight.”
- According to the book The Magic of Jelly: 100 New & Favorite Recipes, the first mention of peanut butter jelly sandwich “came during World War II , when peanut butter and jelly sandwiches became part of the U.S. military rations.”
Hot Pepper Jelly Buying Guide
You can find hot pepper jelly at the condiments and jellies section of grocery stores and supermarkets.
Don’t be surprised to find variants or varieties as a result of the creativity of companies producing this kind of jelly. After all, it is not difficult to add a new ingredient to the traditional hot pepper jelly recipe and open new opportunities for taste and flavor. The book Jellies Vegetables: Most Amazing Oranges Recipes Ever Offered mentioned two varieties: Hot Pepper Garlic Jelly and Crabapple Hot Pepper Jelly. There are stores that also have strawberry pepper jelly.
Support small, local businesses that produce small-batch, artisanal hot pepper jelly.
When buying a jar or bottle of hot pepper jelly, make the necessary quality and safety checks. See if the plastic safety seal around the lid or cap is intact and undamaged. Check the bottle for cracks, dents, and other kinds of damage that could potentially affect the jelly inside. Check the label. It should be intact and there should be no signs of tampering, like torn parts or portions scratched or obscured.
The jar is usually transparent so check the contents inside and see if there are any contaminants or any foreign objects that shouldn’t be there. You can also check for mold or any odd discoloration of the jelly inside the jar.
These are all quality and safety red flags. Call the attention of the store attendant. Do not buy hot pepper jelly if you think the item’s quality and safety have been compromised.
Hot Pepper Jelly Production & Farming in Texas
Hot pepper jelly is popular and common in Texas because state regularly produces the main ingredients used to make hot pepper jelly – jalapenos, poblano peppers, and bell peppers. Here in Texas, 1,200 acres of land are used to grow jalapeños. Poblano peppers, and chile peppers in general, are grown in different parts of Texas, including the lower Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and Hidalgo counties, according to the book Situation and Outlook Report: Vegetables and specialties. Bell peppers are also grown in Texas, majority of which are grown in the Lower Valley and in the Trans-Pecos.
There are many small to medium-scale local businesses that make and sell hot pepper jelly: Designs By Diana in Richardson; Luscombe Farm in Anna; MaDear’s Jellies in Mansfield; and Stanford Family Farms in Dallas.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
A hot pepper jelly usually contains four basic ingredients: fruit flavor, pectin, sugar, acid, and water. What else is used besides these basic ingredients depend on the company making jellies. Some additives are natural and organic. Other additives are artificial, chemical ingredients. Here is a list of ingredients that you might find in your hot pepper jelly.
- Artificial color
- Artificial flavor
- Citric Acid
- Gelling sugar (US) or jam sugar (UK) – Contains pectin and citric acid
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – This can cause serious health problems like obesity, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Low methoxyl citrus pectin (e440i)
- Malic acid
- Monocalcium phosphate
- Pectin – Contains dextrose and citric acid
- Preserving sugars
- Sodium benzoate – This is used to preserve jellies like hot pepper jelly
- Tartaric acid
While it is common to find jars of hot pepper jelly in towns, cities, countries, or regions that have a steady and consistent production of different kinds of peppers to cover local use and consumption, it is also not surprising to find imported hot pepper jelly sold in countries where this is not common. And thanks to e-commerce and buying consumer products online, anyone from anywhere in the world can order a jar of hot pepper jelly from vendors willing to ship.
Hot pepper jelly are sold in glass jars or glass bottles. An important part of the packaging is the label, which contains important information for the consumers, including the name of the manufacturer, expiration or best-before date, ingredients, nutritional information, etc.
Enjoying Hot Pepper Jellies
Linda J. Amendt, in the book Blue Ribbon Preserves: Secrets to Award-Winning Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More, recommends serving hot pepper jelly “on crackers spread with cream cheese as an appetizer at parties.”
Hot pepper jelly pairs well with cheese, especially soft cheeses like goat cheese or Camembert, and cream cheese too. It is great spread on crackers, crostini, toasted bread, or any plain slice of bread. Perhaps you’ve already eaten hot pepper jelly without you knowing it. How? It could have been used to glaze chicken or pork by brushing hot pepper jelly to the meat before roasting or grilling. This could probably explain why you immensely enjoyed that grilled chicken or roasted pork with a very distinct sweet-peppery taste.
You can store unopened hot pepper jelly in a cool, dry place away from the direct heat of the sun. Not only will the heat change the flavor and color of the jelly, it can also cause the jelly inside to go bad and become unsuitable for consumption. Refrigerate once the container has been opened. Always use a clean spoon and avoid leaving the jar open or without a lid and sitting at room temperature or in hot areas for a long time to prevent the jelly from going bad.
While in storage, always check the lid for molds or other signs of spoilage. If it starts to have a foul or stinky smell, do not eat it anymore and make sure to dispose it at once.
Ask anyone and the best-tasting hot pepper jelly is the one you yourself made at home. If this is your first time, don’t worry because hot pepper jelly is easy to make. If you have peppers at home (a combination of three or more is better – try jalapenos, poblano peppers, and bell peppers), simply cut it in half and remove the seeds inside. After removing all the seeds, put these in a blender or food processor. You can do it manually too, just make sure to cut the peppers into very small pieces. Use mortar and pestle to break them down to a pulp if this is the consistency you want. Cook the peppers in sugar, salt, and apple cider vinegar. Add pectin and transfer in small jars once it has reached the consistency you want. That’s it! Read the recipes available online and follow the one you like best.
Peppers used in making hot pepper jelly offer a lot of nutritional benefits. Bell peppers, poblano peppers or chile/chili peppers, and jalapeno peppers have high levels of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K1, vitamin B6, and vitamin C and it also acts as an antioxidant. It helps in boosting immunity and repairing cells. It also promotes bone health, healthy muscles and nerves, weight loss and helps reduce the development (or pain management) of gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Bell peppers also help in preventing cancer too.