Living in Colorado we do not experience the same bounties as some of my friends do in other parts of the country. There is no season here for lobster, shrimp are not jumping out of the water and into our boats, and I have yet to see a crab while wading a shoreline. However we Coloradans are particularly blessed with seasons of incredible fruit and produce. And we are especially fortunate that each fall, usually around the beginning of September until early October, that truck after truck from New Mexico arrive full of Hatch green chilies, bringing with them their roasters and good prices. Pepper season at its best.
It has been an attempted tradition at our house, to embrace the pepper season with a “festival” of our own. We try to gather with a handful of our pepper loving friends, to enjoy some humor, a few margaritas, and to process bushels of chilis. This year was a smaller version than other years, but we still managed to pull it off.
While the vendors will gladly roast the peppers when you buy them, we like doing it ourselves in the backyard on the grill, enjoying the almost spiritual aroma of the peppers over the fire. This is a perfect outdoor activity, and this year we had a spectacular day for it. Mid 70’s and not a cloud in the bright blue sky. Gathered around a table, chatting about everything and nothing, with a margarita within reach, listening to our “Pepperfest mix” (all kinds of music, from the Buena Vista Social Club to Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass), we shared a wonderful afternoon.
We managed in just a few short hours to roast, peel, and seed two and a half bushels of chilis, resulting in eleven pounds of ready to use peppers. Many hands really do make light work. Now with all this bounty what will I make? Well I decided that some jelly was definitely in order.
- 1 pound roasted green chilies peeled, seeded, and diced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 3 oz. pouch of liquid pectin
Sterilized the jars by placing them in a canner that is half full of water. Add enough water to cover the jars. Bring water to a boil and allow it to boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave jars in the hot water until ready to fill.
Wash lids and rings in hot soapy water. Dry off rings and set aside.
Place the lids in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat off. Leave the lids in the hot water until ready to use. Lid preparation can be done while jelly is cooking.
Stir all of the ingredients together, except for the pectin, in a large saucepan. Bring them to a full boil. Stir occasionally.
Once the mixture is at a rolling boil add the liquid pectin and allow it to boil for 1 full minute. (Powdered pectin will not work in this application, do not try to substitute). Continue to stir during this time.
Remove from the heat and skim off any foam that has developed on top.
After skimming foam off pour the hot jelly into the hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Wipe the rims and threads of the jars. Place the lid on top of the jar and the place the ring on. Do not over tighten the rings.
Place the jars in a canner that is at least 1/2 full of hot water. Once all the jars are in the canner, add more boiling water until the jars are covered with about 1 inch of water.
Bring water to a full boil, cover and turn the heat down so that the water is just at a steady boil. Process for 5 minutes to seal the jars.
At the end of the cooking time, carefully remove the jars from the canner and place on a dry towel and allow to cool for 12 hours.
The heat of peppers varies widely, so taste the peppers you intend to use and adjust amount accordingly. Many recipes also call for the addition of green food coloring. I prefer the natural color of the jelly, but feel free to add a few drops of color if you want. This recipe makes about 3 pints.
I can hardly wait to use some of this wonderful jelly at my Holiday Cocktail party!