Baby Steps: Spice up your holiday

November 8, 2013

With Halloween over and Thanksgiving soon to arrive, before we know it Christmas will be here and those who start prepping for it now will have an easier, less stressful holiday season.

The Christmas season is a time of parties, a stream of festivities, a never-ending row of colorful lights, and a lot of fun.  Start preparing now so that you can enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds Christmastime without being overloaded and overstressed. One huge stressor during the holidays is trying to get gifts at the last minute—this is never a fun way to spend the few weeks before Christmas. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what gift you’re giving all of your friends, neighbors, and family members this year.

Usually for Christmas we all seem to get the cookie platters, baked goods, or holiday decorations. Although these standard go-to gifts are fun (and for some of us, allow us to indulge in our weakness of candy!), why not step away from the crowd and give an inexpensive, unique gift to those you love most?

My sister actually gave me a fantastic, delicious recipe that will both sweeten and spice up your friends’ holiday—Pepper Jelly.

Small colorful sweet peppers isolated on white background

Mmmm! Pepper jelly matches sweet with spicy in a delicious blend of flavors using bell peppers, jalapenos, and a few other ingredients. This recipe is easy to make in large batches, and only uses a few ingredients per batch, making it perfect for a holiday gift.

Pepper Jelly
Yield: 8 ½-pint jars

*You could even do both colors (in separate jars) to create a Christmas season feel

  1. Combine peppers, vinegar, sugar, and cayenne in a large pot
  2. Cook on medium until it boils
  3. Add the Certo, boil 5 minutes (let it boil for the full 5 minutes, or it won’t set.)
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Add food color
  6. Pour into jars

Pepper jelly is a unique recipe that a lot of people haven’t tasted before, but is savory nonetheless. If sweet and spicy aren’t quite your taste, other traditional jams and jellies make great holiday gifts as well. For a variety of delicious recipes see our Jams and Jellies that please post.

 

Storing your Jam/Jelly

Short-term storage is a great way to seal your jelly, protecting it from bacteria until you are ready to dive into it. There are three ways to package your jelly for short-term storage: Traditional Canning, Freezing, and Storing to eat.

Traditional Canning

Traditional canning involves cooking your ingredients before sealing them in their individual jars by processing your batch in a boiling water bath. This process takes longer to do because of the cooking time, but ensures that all of your ingredients are clean and ready to eat.  As soon as the jelly is poured into their individual jars, cap them and place in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.  Remove jars and set aside to cool. Soon after removing from the boiling water, you should hear a ‘pop!’ indicating that the jar has sealed itself. If you are unsure as to whether or not it sealed, just poke the lid. If it concaves and then bounces back at your touch, then it did not seal properly. In that case, store it in your fridge and eat within the next few weeks.  You can store traditionally canned jelly for up to a year.

Freezing

Freezing is another way to package your jelly for storage. This process takes much less time than the traditional canning method.  After the jelly has been poured into its individual freezer-safe containers, let it cool before capping it, and then place it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Freezer jams can last up to a year in the freezer or a few weeks in the fridge.

Store to Eat

The last way to store your jelly is to store it to eat. Once you have poured the jelly into its individual jar and have let it cool, cap it and place it in the fridge. The recommended storage life is about a month, but I have had my Pepper Jelly in the fridge for two and it still tastes delicious. This type of storage is perfect if you plan to eat your scrumptious jelly right up.

 ***

Jams and jellies are fantastic gifts to give anytime of the year because they’ll last. When you give jam as a gift, your friends can either break into the bottle immediately or save it for a time when their own sugary supply of holiday goodies gets low.  Jams and jellies are able to store for up to a year depending on how you seal it.

Jams and jellies give you an inexpensive option when you want a unique, desirable gift for your loved ones. Freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and vegetables are perfect for adding into your jams/jellies without having to break your bank, just use a little here and a little there and still have plenty for later.

-Kim

Sources:

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/storing_jams.html

http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish/2011/07/27/how-to-make-homemade-jelly/

This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with holiday, freeze dried food, Budget, preparedness, baby steps, skills, recipes, food storage

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