#367 Hot Red Pepper Jelly

Chilli peppers and sweet bell peppers have never really been absorbed into our eating culture. I cannot think of a single English (or indeed British) dish that uses it. You do find some sliced red pepper on a salad, but that’s about it. When Portuguese and Spanish explorers brought them back from their travels to the New World, many of the Southern European and Northern African countries quickly assimilated it into their cooking. Of course, peppers are most successful in Asia. Who can imagine an Thai, Indian or Pakistani curry without it?
Whenever I cook with peppers – sweet or hot – it is always in a curry or an Italian pasta sauce. Well with this recipe I think that Jane Grigson is trying to use peppers in a very English way. In fact it comes from her daughter Sophie Grigson, now a very successful food writer in her own right. I think it is a very British preserve; a clear sweet jelly cut with a bit of vinegar to make it certainly savoury.


Halve and core 2 pounds of cooking apples such as Bramleys seedling, but don’t chuck out the cores (they are a valuable source of pectin). Chop the flesh and blitz in a food processor. Tip them into a preserving pan or stockpot with the reserved cores. Tip in 15 fluid ounces of cider vinegar to prevent the apples from discolouring. Next, deseed and roughly chop 3 red peppers and 4 red chilli peppers. Blitz those up too and add to the pot. 

Bring to a boil and simmer for a good 20 minutes. At this point there will be an absolutely delicious smell. Savour it – the smell from this aromatic sharp concoction is wonderful! Strain the hot mixture through a jelly bag and allow it to drip overnight.


Next day, measure the volume of juice you have and pour it into you pan. Stir in granulated sugar – you’ll need a pound for every pint of juice. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and boil for 20 minutes.

Normally, the apples alone have enough pectin in them to easily set a jelly like this, but the chilli peppers somehow interact with the pectin and prevent it from happening. To get around this problem you need to add extra pectin which comes in the form of a viscous liquid or a powder. Grigson suggests using 3 fluid ounces of liquid pectin (e.g. Certo), but you could use a sachet of pectin powder in its place. Whichever you use, mix it well into the boiling jelly. Test for a set using a thermometer; 104⁰C is what you are looking for. This will take about 10 or 15 minutes of hard boiling. It is important to note that you shouldn’tfollow the instructions on the packet. Pot the jelly into sterilised jars.


#367 Hot Red Pepper Jelly. This was very refreshing and delicious – the sweet jelly combined with sharp vinegar is a great one that really brought out chilli flavour as well as chilli heat. It was very good with cheese. 8.5/10