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July 28, 2023 5 min read

Stepping into the kitchen can often feel like embarking on a culinary adventure, and making pepper jelly is no different. Traditional pepper jellies, typically made from bell or jalapeno peppers, offer a delightful mix of sweet and spicy. But why not turn this adventure into an expedition and explore the vast world of uncommon peppers? Imagine the tropical heat of habanero or the bold, fruity undertones of the aji amarillo, all beautifully captured in a jar of homemade jelly. Ready to explore? Grab your apron, and let's embark on this exciting journey of creating exotic pepper jelly varieties!

Understanding the World of Peppers

Peppers, belonging to the Capsicum genus, are a flavorful bunch. Each variety has a unique blend of taste, aroma, and heat, making them ideal candidates for our jelly-making journey. Let's start with understanding the Scoville scale. Developed by Wilbur Scoville, this scale measures the heat of chili peppers, making it easier for us adventurers to know what we're getting into!

Now, meet the stars of our journey: habanero, aji amarillo, ghost pepper, Trinidad scorpion, and Carolina Reaper. Habanero offers a tropical, fiery flavor, a delightful contrast to the mild, fruity warmth of aji amarillo. Ghost pepper, or Bhut Jolokia, has an intense heat veiled by a sweet undertone, while the Trinidad Scorpion's fierce heat is mellowed by its fruity notes. Finally, meet the Carolina Reaper, currently the world's hottest pepper, boasting an extreme heat that's strangely complemented by its sweet, chocolate-cherry undertones.

The Scoville Scale of Peppers

Basic Pepper Jelly Making Technique

Before we dive into creating exotic jellies, it's crucial to understand the basic process. To make pepper jelly, you'll need fresh peppers, sugar, vinegar, pectin, and jars for storage. A food processor will help chop the peppers finely, and a large pot will be needed for the cooking process.

Begin by finely chopping your chosen peppers in a food processor. Combine the peppers with vinegar and sugar in a pot and bring it to a boil. Add pectin and let it boil for a few minutes until the mixture is well-blended. Pour the hot jelly into sterilized jars, seal them, and let them cool. Voila! You've made your basic pepper jelly!

Remember, safety is paramount when dealing with hot peppers. Always use gloves to protect your skin from the spicy oils, and avoid touching your face while handling them.

Check out our Pepper Jelly recipes.

cut peppers

Creating Exotic Pepper Jelly Varieties

Ready to transform your basic jelly into an exotic masterpiece? Here we go:

Habanero Peach Jelly: Start with a basic jelly recipe, but use half habanero and half bell peppers. Add in some fresh peach puree for a tropical, fruity flavor that balances the habanero's heat.

Aji Amarillo Jelly: For this South American delight, replace all the peppers in the basic recipe with aji amarillo. The result is a mild, fruity warmth that's simply irresistible.

Ghost Pepper Jelly: For the brave at heart, replace half the peppers in the basic recipe with ghost peppers. Enjoy the intense heat, cleverly masked by a sweet undertone.

Trinidad Scorpion Jelly: Use half bell peppers and half Trinidad Scorpion in the basic recipe. The jelly's bold, tangy flavor with a fiery heat is perfect for the adventurous.

Carolina Reaper Jelly: If you dare, replace a quarter of the peppers in the basic recipe with Carolina Reaper. Beware, this jelly is extremely hot but strangely addictive with its sweet undertones.

Remember, the key to a great jelly is balance. Feel free to experiment with the proportions, and don't forget to have fun while at it! After all, it's all part of the culinary adventure.

Habanero Pepper Jelly by Grandma Jones' Originals

Innovative Ways to Use Your Exotic Pepper Jelly

Once you've got your jars of exotic pepper jelly lined up, you might be wondering, "How do I best use these culinary treasures?" Fear not, the possibilities are as varied as the peppers you've used!

Glaze or Marinade for Grilled Meats: Slather some Habanero Peach Jelly on chicken or pork before grilling to give it a tropical, fiery twist. Your barbecue nights will never be the same!

Grilled Pork with Southwestern Chipotle Pepper Jelly

Accompaniment with Cheese and Crackers: Pair Aji Amarillo Jelly with a creamy brie or sharp cheddar for an instant gourmet snack. The jelly's fruity warmth adds an exciting twist to your cheese and cracker platter.

Try cream cheese and crackers with Cranberry Habanero Pepper Jelly

Mix-in for Salad Dressings: Whisk in a spoonful of Ghost Pepper Jelly into your favorite vinaigrette. The heat will add an unexpected zing to your salads, making each bite a surprise.

Adding a Zing to Sandwiches and Burgers: Smear some Trinidad Scorpion Jelly on your burger or sandwich for a tangy, fiery kick. The bold flavor will elevate your meal to gourmet status!

Spread pepper jelly on a sandwich

Spread pepper jelly on a sandwich! Featuring Cranberry Pepper Jelly

Giving an Exotic Twist to Baking Recipes: Imagine a Carolina Reaper Jelly-filled doughnut. The sweet heat provides an exciting twist to your favorite baked goods, making them the talk of the town!

Creating exotic pepper jelly is an exhilarating culinary journey that allows you to explore the world of peppers, challenge your taste buds, and impress your friends and family with your homemade, gourmet creations. So put on that apron, handle those peppers with courage, and start your journey towards mastering the art of exotic pepper jelly. Happy jelly-making!

Frequently Asked Questions about using uncommon peppers for pepper jelly:

What precautions should I take when handling uncommon, hot peppers?

Dealing with hot peppers requires care due to the capsaicin oils they contain. These oils can irritate your skin and eyes. It's recommended to use gloves while handling hot peppers, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands thoroughly after you're done. Also, ensure your kitchen is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling any pepper fumes.

I'm not accustomed to spicy foods. Can I still make exotic pepper jelly?**

Absolutely! The beauty of making your own pepper jelly is that you control the heat. If you're not a fan of intense heat, use less of the hot peppers and balance with milder ones, like bell peppers. You can adjust the proportions to suit your own taste.

How can I balance the flavors in my pepper jelly?

Balancing flavors in pepper jelly involves finding the right mix of sweet and spicy. The sweetness from the sugar and the tang from the vinegar helps balance the heat from the peppers. Don't hesitate to experiment and adjust the ingredients to create a jelly that suits your palate.

How long can I store my homemade pepper jelly?

If canned properly in sterilized jars, homemade pepper jelly can last up to a year in the pantry. After opening, store it in the fridge where it can last for 1-2 months. Always check for signs of spoilage like mold, off-smell, or change in texture before consuming.

Can I use dried peppers to make pepper jelly?

While fresh peppers are usually preferred for their vibrant flavor, you can use dried peppers if fresh ones are not available. Just remember to rehydrate them in hot water before using. NOTE - dried red pepper flakes are commonly used to make pepper jelly, but other pepper types should be fresh and preferably local and farm to table.

How can I determine the heat of the pepper?

The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). The higher the SHU, the hotter the pepper. For instance, a bell pepper has 0 SHU while a Carolina Reaper can have over 2 million SHUs. Always research the pepper's heat level before using it in your jelly.

See above for an image of the Scoville Scale.