Here in Maine, our season for heat-loving crops, like peppers, is short to be sure. But when it’s here – as it finally is – it’s here! In gardens, at farmers’ markets, and even in the grocery store, local peppers are overflowing – colorful, abundant, and truly gorgeous.
Hot pepper jelly is a great way to enjoy these beauties, but this summer, why not also try some hot pepper jam? It’s similar in taste to hot pepper jelly, but the texture is different, as the peppers are blended, which gives it a soft, jammy consistency. And, like pepper jelly, it is delicious served with a crusty baguette and sharp cheddar cheese.
While you can use any variety of bell pepper or hot pepper in this recipe, peppers that are similar in color work best, as the end result will be visually much more appealing. This recipe keeps it all in the green family, using green bell peppers and jalapenos.
Additionally, you can adjust the degree of spiciness in this recipe to suit your taste. If you like extra heat, you may wish to increase the hot pepper quantity slightly, while decreasing the bell pepper quantity by the same amount. If you like things a bit more mild, you may want to do the opposite.
However, it’s very important that you do not increase the overall quantity of peppers in the recipe. Peppers are a low-acid food, and must be balanced with the correct quantity of acid (vinegar, in the case of this recipe) in order for the jam to be safe for boiling water bath canning.
Be sure to use standard white or apple cider vinegar with 5 percent acidity.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Pepper Jam Ingredients
2½ cups finely chopped green bell pepper
1½ cups finely chopped jalapeno pepper
2 cups vinegar
3 teaspoons calcium water
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder
Pepper Jam Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. Wash the bell peppers, remove and discard seeds and finely chop. Repeat the process for the jalapeno peppers.
3. Measure the chopped bell peppers and the chopped jalapeno peppers. Combine the measured quantities in a sauce pan and add the vinegar.
4. Cover the pepper mixture and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, remove it from the heat.
5. Transfer the pepper mixture to a blender or food processor and blend the mixture. Since the mixture will be hot, be sure to vent the lid of the blender. Return the mixture to the sauce pan, then add the calcium water and stir to combine.
6. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
7. Put the sauce pan back on the stove and bring the pepper mixture up to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
8. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jam, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
9. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
10. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.
11. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Then confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.
Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy