Hot Pepper Jelly

October 18, 2016
Recipe by: Randy Manoni

As fall comes around, I always have a plentiful bounty of hot chili peppers ready for harvest in my garden.  Every year, 2 weeks or so before Halloween I set out to make my famous Ghost Chili Jelly and this year is no different.  While it sounds like a fun play on words for Halloween themed fare, the name actually comes from the chili peppers that I prefer to use.  This recipe can be made with about any hot pepper, and will increase in heat as you go up the scoville scale.  I have altered this pepper to be within what is widely considered to be a reasonable heat range. However, if you like it spicy, like I do, substitute the Cayenne pepper for Bhut jolokia (Ghost Chili).  Serve this over toast points and brie cheese, and amaze your friends at any holiday party this season.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 12 - 24 hours
Yield: 3 1/2 Pints
Difficulty: Medium


  • 1 1/2 lb red bell peppers, large dice into 1-inch pieces, stem and seeds discarded  (about 3 peppers)
  • 8 oz Cayenne chili peppers cut in half, stem discarded, but seeds in tact (refer to the scoville scale to bring the spicy level up or down
  • 3 tablespoons no-sugar-needed pectin (powder not gel)
  • 3 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Also needed; 5 (1/2-pint) canning jars with screw bands and lids; candy thermometer; canning tongs. Canning funnel is also recommended.

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Sterilize jars and lids:

  1. Be sure jars and lids are washed with soap and water, rinsed and dried well.
  2. Bring a large stock pot with enough water to cover the jars to a rolling boil. Place in jars and lids, continue to boil 10 minutes
  3. Remove from heat. Keep Jars and lids submerged in the hot water until ready for use.

Make jelly:

  1. Place bell peppers and Cayenne chili peppers in a Swiss Diamond Jêt Mix mini chopper (or any food processer) Pulse until finely chopped, but not quite pureed
  2. In a small bowl, whisk pectin and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Stir together pepper mixture, remaining 3 cups sugar, vinegar, butter, salt, and in Swiss Diamond Soup pot. Bring to a vigorous boil over high heat, continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  4. Gradually add pectin mixture, whisking constantly. Return jelly to a vigorous boil, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.
  5. Carefully remove jars and lids with canning tongs, then drain jars upside down on a clean kitchen towel and quickly dry lids. Invert jars and immediately ladle hot jelly into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at top. (Last jar may not be full).  Wipe off rims of filled jars with a damp clean kitchen towel, then firmly screw on lids with screw bands.

Seal and process jars:

  • Put the lid on the cans press tightly, screw the band on, and put in the refrigerator at least overnight.
  • After jars have cooled, 12 to 24 hours, press center of each lid to check that it's concave, then remove screw band and try to lift lid with your fingertips. If you can't, the lid has a good seal. Replace screw band. Put any jars that haven't sealed properly in the refrigerator and use them first (along with jar that was only partially full).

Pro Tips:

  1. Jelly keeps in sealed jars in a cool dark place 5 to 6 months.
  2. If you want to make more jelly, do not double recipe; make another batch.
  3. Use olive oil to clean the "hot" off your hands after dealing with chili peppers.