Friday, January 11, 2013

Cran-Jalapeno Jam

Well, if I didn't admit to a bit of kitchen-improve here I would deceiving you all....  This was not exactly my direction with this jam, but all in all I love it even better than the routine jalapeno jelly that I set out to make.  And see, did you notice there that I set out to make a jelly...not a jam?  That's because this absent-minded kitchen fairy completely forgot to push it through the cheesecloth, which mind you I set out at 8 o'clock last night in the rain to get, just so I could make a jelly instead of a jam.  Giving me the end result of a jam and not a jelly.  Also, there is the ever noticeable addition of cranberries into my recipe here, changing the color from pale translucent green to a deep, rich, dark red wine color.  And adding in a bit of fruity tang, which I myself know is exactly what it was missing.  Don't get me wrong, I love jalapeno jelly, but I did almost kind of in a way think that it needed something else.  Something to balance it off and round it out a bit.  And this is exactly what it needed.  I only had to stumble onto using them because I did not defrost enough of my homegrown jalapenos.  It was fate above all that put those cranberries in my fridge now as well.  So, I have to thank my crazed-over busy holiday for that (they were supposed to be strung with popcorn and draped around our Christmas tree, but somebody never got around to it.....).  Sometimes the greatest recipes result from poor planning and procrastination ;)

3/4 cup of fresh jalapenos (tops cut off, sliced in half lengthwise and membranes/ seeds removed)
2 additional fresh jalapenos (treated the same but then diced up real fine-set aside)
3/4 cup of fresh whole cranberries
2 cups of apple-cider vinegar (divided)
6 cups + 2 T. of sugar
1- 3oz. packet of liquid pectin (I am into the liquid form now-just always turns out perfect)
 6- 1/2 pint quilted mason jars with new lids/ rings
canning jar tongs (a must for removing the jars from the boiling stockpot)

-First and foremost, wash your jars, lids and rings in very hot soapy water and rinse well. Place the jars, lids and rings into a large canning stockpot, filled halfway with water and covered with a lid over a high flame. Let this heat up to a boil and hold the boil for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Using the tongs, remove the jars, lids and rings to your towel lined counter top.  Place the lid back on the stockpot and return it to a rolling boil that will be ready for the jam.  Meanwhile, puree the 3/4 cup of jalapenos, cranberries and 1 cup of the apple-cider vinegar together (I did it in my blender).  Once they are blended smooth, add in the last 1 cup of vinegar and give it one more whirl to combine it all.  Pour this into a large saucepan over high heat.  Once it has just begun to boil, add in the sugar, reserved diced jalapeno bits and continue stirring it until it has dissolved.  Let it boil for 10 minutes while you constantly keep stirring it.  Bring this up to a rolling frothy boil that cannot be stirred down and stir in all of the liquid pectin. Return this to a boil, while constantly stirring for one whole minute. Remove it from the heat and using a metal spoon, skim off any froth from the top to discard (mine didn't need this this time, but yours may).  Go ahead and ladle in the hot jam into each of your hot, empty mason jars. Leave a 1/4" of head space at the top of each jar (the empty space at the top to keep them from exploding-yep very important). Place the lids on the center of each top and screw the rings on hand-tight. Once your canning stockpot has returned to a boil, using your canning jar tongs, return the mason jars to the boiling stockpot (right-side up). Cover with the lid and let them process in the boiling pot for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, remove the stockpot from the heat and let the jars continue to sit in the stockpot for 5 more minutes. Lastly using your canning jar tongs, remove your mason jars to your towel lined counter. Place them upside down (people have told me that this is no longer 'the way to do it', but old habits die hard and I tend to stick to what works for me) to cool. Once the jars have cooled down to room temperature, turn them right-side up. You will hear the lids pop in at this time if they have not done so already (sometimes I will pop the lid down on some of them as I am checking them, that is OK as long as it does not pop back up). If you follow the directions of this process correctly, you will have properly sealed them. But, it is still not the end of the world if one of them does not seal. That is just going to have to be the first one consumed. For properly sealed jars, they should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place like a pantry (where I store mine) or a kitchen cabinet. They will be good stored this way for up to 1 year. For unsealed jars or seal broken jars (like once you open one), they must be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 3 weeks. Makes 6 1/2 pint quilted mason jars of jam to be served on anything from cream cheese with crackers to warm buttered biscuits. Enjoy!

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