I grew up in a small town in Central BC in the 1980s, where there was 1 stoplight and not even a take out pizza joint until I was in grade 10. Every summer my parents would load up the car with flats of fat, juicy tomatoes, ruby red cherries, and sweet strawberries from fruit stands with their wares trucked up from the Okanogan. Making jam or canning was a family affair; with us kids sitting at the island in our kitchen knife and cutting board in hand, hulling strawberries or peeling and slicing peaches.
There’s something about homemade jams and jellies that I just can’t get from buying them at the store. The lack of additives and colors, fresher fruit, and the freedom to play around with flavors keep you from being limited to what’s on the grocery shelf. Also, making jam at home is far more economical than buying it once you already own all the canning equipment.
Awhile ago, I was sent this gorgeous new book from Canadian Living. I’ve often used Canadian Living’s recipes in my kitchen when canning, always with great success. This hardcover book has everything from pickles to mustards, fruit vinegars, jams, chutneys, and more. This pepper jelly has a fantastic twist with the addition of tequila, and comes out sweet with a bit of spice. I think it would be tasty on a wheel of brie, slathered over cream cheese on baguette, or as a glaze on chicken. I don't think you need to worry about the alcohol with young kids; when you add it to the screaming hot jelly, there's much bubbling and I'm sure the alcohol just burns right off, leaving the flavour behind.
Having said that, when I bought the tequila I was asked not for one, but two pieces of ID at the liquor store. I'm 41. Let's just say it made me really, really happy.
If you are new to canning, the book also explains the process well, talks about equipment and tips, and offers recipes for beginners as well as for more advanced cooks. With beautiful photographs and easy to follow directions, I highly recommend that you give it a good look.
1 cup minced sweet peppers-1/3 cup each red, yellow, and orange.
1 tsp minced hot red pepper, seeded (I used bird's eye chiles)
¾ cup white wine vinegar
3 cups sugar
¼ cup tequila
1 envelope of liquid Certo
Before you start, sterilize 8 ½ cup sized jars and keep them hot in the oven. Fill a canner with water and bring it to a boil (this takes awhile, I’d do this first). You also want to get a small pot and bring the water to a simmer, then set the snap lids in to soften the glue. Don’t boil them, but keep them in hot water while you continue.
In a large pot, stir together the sweet and hot peppers, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring. Let boil or 5 minutes while you stir to keep it from burning.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the Certo, stir, and then add the tequila. The mixture will bubble after you add the tequila, but don’t worry about it. Set the hot jars onto a tea towel on your counter to catch the spills.
Ladle the hot jelly into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. A canning funnel and ladle work really well here and keep the mess to a minimum. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth, then cover with a warm snap lid and screw on the band to fingertip tight.
Process the jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and move the canner off the element to let it cool a bit before removing the jars to the counter top. As they cool, occasionally turn them upside down (carefully!) and leave them that way for a few minutes so that the bits of pepper in the jelly don’t float to the top and stay there. If you do this every so often as they cool, the bits will eventually be suspended in the jelly quite nicely.
Allow the jars to completely cool on the counter. Each of the snap lids should be sealed up-meaning, if you press the top they are firm and there is no give. Any jar that didn’t seal can be refrigerated and you can use it up immediately.
Makes 3-4 cups of jelly
Disclosure: I have not been paid by, nor do I work for, Canadian Living or their publisher. The book was sent to me to review. However, it should be said that some of the recipes in the book have been around for years in their publications, and I have made them before, with great success.