Baking - General

Jelly Season

It’s been a while since I made a good old-fashioned homemade jelly. I went through a phase a few years ago when we had a quince tree in our backyard and were also getting a lot of apples in our CSA box. I made a lot of jams and jellies with an apple base so I didn’t have to use pectin.

I have a friend here in London with a crabapple tree on her front lawn and she said I could come pick them when they were ready. Well, they didn’t grow quite as well this year as in years past, and when the kids and I went to pick we didn’t get a very good crop. So we said ‘better luck next year’ and left it at that.

A couple weeks later I was taking my daughter to her swimming lesson and as I went around the car to get her out I saw that we were parked right beside a big crabapple tree that was FULL of bright red crabapples. Cue the lightbulb. When we came out of the community centre I grabbed a bag from our trunk and we started picking. Since it was a community space I figured it would be okay. I noticed a few people in the parking lot who were probably wondering what the heck we were doing, but nobody came over to question it so we filled the bag and set off.

It ended up being the perfect amount for a batch of jelly. It was really fun to go through the jelly making process again, trying to get it into the jars at just the right point. My daughter has been very excited to have this pink jelly on her toast every morning, and she helped me take a jar to our friends as well. I hope we’ll still have better luck next year with our friends’ tree, but if we don’t we know where to find some!

Homemade crabapple jelly, courtesy of our local community centre parking lot.
Homemade crabapple jelly, courtesy of our local community centre parking lot.
Baking - General

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

I don’t like spicy things very much, so most of the things I make are on the sweet side. My husband, on the other hand, loves spice. He is a big fan of pepper jellies, eating it not only as an appetizer on crackers with cheese, but also on his toast in the morning. (I could handle the crackers and cheese, but not on toast for breakfast). Anyway, I’ve been stock-piling quite a few jams and jellies with the various berries that are in season right now, and got to thinking that I should probably make something he would really enjoy too.

I found a recipe in my canning book for Easy Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. The title did not lie, it was super easy. I was a bit reluctant, because I know that cutting and handling hot peppers can be risky business, especially for someone who doesn’t like them. But all I had to do was cut off the tops, scoop out the seeds, and toss them in the blender. No chopping itty bitty pieces getting my fingers coated in hot pepper juice, this was my kind of recipe.

After they were blended with some cider vinegar, I cooked them up with more vinegar and sugar – standing back a bit to avoid the fumes – added in the pectin when it was time, and ladeled it into the jars. Easy peasy. The recipe suggested for a hotter jelly you could wrap some of the seeds in cheesecloth and let it infuse the cooking jelly, removing just before adding the pectin. I would have tried this, but didn’t have any cheesecloth on hand. Maybe next time.

I have to confess, I didn’t even taste test to make sure it was okay. But my husband has had it on his toast a few times now, so I guess it was a success!