In Search of Perfect Pepper Jelly

Green Pepper JellyJust the other day, I received a question from Alisha about pepper jelly:

I’m looking for a pepper jelly recipe, that utilizes a large variety of hot peppers (jalapeno, habanero, serrano, etc), with the minced pepper fruit suspended in the jelly. Have you come across any? We had a dear friend that used to make it… but she passed, and never shared her recipe. I remember she said it contained 6 different peppers… they were a variety of colors. And it was remarkable.

This raises a few interesting questions:

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Shirley’s Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Jam-ShirleyWe featured this recipe in a recent edition of the “Preserving the Harvest” newsletter from Mrs. Wages. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds fresh rhubarb, finely chopped
½ cup water
2 pints of red, ripe strawberries
1 package Mrs. Wages® Fruit Pectin Home Jell
6 cups granulated sugar

Directions
1.  Prepare 6 8-ounce jelly jars by sterilizing in boiling water or running them through the rinse cycle in the dishwasher; keep hot.  Fill a boiling water bath canner half full of hot water and bring to a simmer; cover and keep hot.

2.  Place water and rhubarb in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover.  Cook over low heat until rhubarb is tender.  Remove from heat.

3.  Wash and stem strawberries.  Crush well with a potato masher or food processor.  Measure out 2 ¼ cups of prepared strawberries and place in a non-reactive pan.  Measure 1 ¾ cups prepared rhubarb and add to the strawberries and mix well.

4.  Stir the pectin into the strawberry mixture and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in sugar and return mixture to a full rolling boil and boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat and skim off any foam that has formed on the top of the jam.

5.  Ladle the hot jam into the hot jars leaving ¼-inch of head space.  Clean the rims of the jars and add lids prepared according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Place screw bands on finger tight.  Place the jars of jelly in the rack in the boiling water bath canner, making sure that the water is at least 1-inch over the tops of the jars.  Cover the canner and bring to a boil, process for 10 minutes.  Remove the canner from the burner and remove the lid; keep the jars in the canner for an additional 5 minutes then remove them to a cooling rack or towel.  Allow the jars to cool completely and check for seals.  Label and store.  (If a jar fails to seal, refrigerate and use within one month.)

General jelly-making tips

Red JellyTo make jellies and jams that are of good quality, use the right amounts of four basic ingredients:  sugar, pectin, acid, and fruit.

You may choose to make either fresh or frozen fruit or juice.  If you are using frozen fruit, it should be frozen without sugar.  Sometimes commercially frozen or canned juices are lower in natural pectin content and the resulting jellied products may be a little softer in texture.  If you pick your own fruit or make your own fruit juice, you will have a better product if ¼ of the fruit is slightly under-ripe and ¾ of the fruit is fully ripe. Continue reading

Where to Find Safe Canning Recipes

Avoid-Food-Poisoning-Feature-PicWe all know people who have secret family recipes.  Usually those recipes are for foods that we make and serve to our families at mealtime.  Tweaking these recipes – making changes for health or taste reasons – is perfectly acceptable – you make it and you eat it. Of course your tweaking may change the taste enough that it isn’t as flavorful as you would like, but it’s a safe thing to do.

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A Fresh Twist on Rhubarb

Balsamic-Rhubarb-SaladWe’re used to having rhubarb baked into pies and made into jellies and jams – but here’s a great recipe from the Mrs. Wages Test Kitchen that includes fresh-sliced rhubarb in a salad topped off with a balsamic vinegar. What a delicious blend of flavors!

Yield: 4 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups sliced fresh rhubarb
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Italian red wine vinegar
1Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped green onion
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach
2 sticks mozzarella string cheese, sliced
½ cup orange segments, drained
1/4 cup golden raisins
¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 450°F.

2.  Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in baking pan with foil.

3.  In a small bowl, combine rhubarb and sugar; toss to coat.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake, uncovered, for 4-6 minutes or until rhubarb is tender.  Set aside to cool.

4.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the vinegars, oil, onion, salt and pepper.  Add spinach and toss to coat.  Divide spinach among 4 plates.  Top with the rhubarb, cheese, orange segments, raisins and walnuts.

– See more at: http://www.mrswages.com/Page/Balsamic_Rhubarb_Salad.aspx#sthash.MiRVclbP.dpuf