Don’t be fooled by the seemingly harmless look of Jalapeño peppers. With a Scoville Heat Unit of 3,500-8,000, they can still be pungent, mild, or hot depending on a person’s spice tolerance. Jalapeños were first cultivated in Mexico and contribute thirty percent (30%) to all of the country’s chili production. The US Department of Agriculture lists California, New Mexico, and Texas as the top Jalapeño growers in the country. While other countries such as India, Chile, Spain, and Peru grow and export their Jalapeños as a global commodity.
Jalapeño peppers are the State Peppers of Texas. According to House Resolution No.5, the Texas Legislature wrote that Jalapeño peppers are a “culinary, economic, and medical blessing to the citizens of the Lone Star State.”
Jalapeño Jelly Trivia
- Did you know that Jalapeños were the only chilies to be brought into space? In 1982, astronaut Sherwood Spring gave some freshly pickled Jalapeño peppers to fellow astronaut William Lenoir.
- Jalapeños can have a mild heat or intense spice depending on the spice tolerance of a person. More than their famous spicy personalities, Jalapeños are full of Fiber, Vitamins K, A, B, and C, and also contain Manganese and Folate.
- If you need to lose some weight, take some Jalapeños, as they’re effectively known to burn fat and reduce appetite.
Jalapeño Jelly Buying Guide
Jalapeño peppers are best harvested in the Central Regions from mid-March to mid-July. During these times, you can buy Jalapeños in their best state at affordable prices. Although, Jalapeños can sometimes be expensive depending on the planting seasons and the weather conditions.
Texas is famous for its Jalapeño jellies. You can get it at any supermarket and convenience stores. However, commercially produced Jalapeño jellies tend to have a metallic taste and odor compared to homemade ones.
Do buy Jalapeño jellies produced by your local artisans who make them in small batches. It’s a much more sustainable and eco-friendly practice since not much energy is utilized. Artisan makers also avoid adding preservatives and chemicals to their edible masterpieces.
Jalapeño Jelly Production & Farming in Texas
It was said that Jalapeño jelly was first invented in Lake Jackosn, Texas, and was commercially sold around the 1970s. Any pepper would withstand the hot climate of Texas, but they are very sensitive to temperature. While most peppers are grown in areas with tropical climates, Jalapeño peppers can be grown in small pots or containers and can be placed in a small, garden patch or even on the patio.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Making Jalapeño jellies would be impossible without Pectin. Natural and artificial pectin is necessary to form the gel-like structure of jams and jellies. The two types of pectin used in making preserves include the High Methoxyl (HM) Pectin or the fast and rapid set, and Low Methoxyl (LM) Pectin or the slow-set.
Those who have moderate to severe food allergies should stay away from eating any kinds of preserves, jellies, or jams. Pectin is often a source of allergy that can trigger asthma and dermatitis or can even lead to minor cases of anaphylaxis.
Home-made jalapeño jellies should be stored in sterilized glass jars to preserve their shelf-life. The jars should be inspected to ensure that they don’t have any cracks, chipped areas, mold, or rust in them. If you find any of these, immediately discard the jars and use a new one that’s safe for food storage and consumption.
Enjoying Jalapeño Jelly
Unlike fruit jams, Jalapeño jellies are usually eaten in tiny amounts due to their concentrated flavors. Jalapeño jellies can be used for both savory and sweet recipes. For starters, jalapeño jellies can be used as a glaze for roasted chicken, pork, beef, or even lamb. So, try using jalapeño jellies on your next barbecue. The tangy and spicy kick of Jalapeño jellies also perfectly complements the oiliness of baked salmon.
Jalapeño jellies can also be served as a topping for canapés, hors d’oeuvres, or as a dip for your grazing board. The combination of Jalapeño jellies with cream cheese, and meats such as sausages and briskets are heavenly.
Unopened jars of jalapeño jellies should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat to avoid spoilage. Always refrigerate the jalapeño jellies once opened. Never let it sit at room temperature for one to three hours to prevent mold and bacterial contamination.
HOMEMADE JALAPEÑO JELLY
1 large green bell pepper
12 jalapeno peppers
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 pinch salt
4 ¼ cups granulated sugar
4 ounces liquid pectin
4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- Combine the green bell pepper and 12 jalapeno peppers in the container of a food processor or blender. Process until finely chopped. This can be done in batches if the peppers do not fit.
- Transfer the peppers to a large saucepan, and stir in the cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through at least 2 layers of cheesecloth, and discard pulp. You should have about 1 cup of liquid.
- Return the liquid to the saucepan, and stir in the salt and sugar until dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the mixture comes to a rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down), boil for one minute, then stir in the liquid pectin.
- Stir in the remaining jalapeno peppers, and ladle into sterile jars leaving ¼-inch headspace. Seal jars in a hot water bath. Refrigerate jelly after the seal is broken.