Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Recipe From My Grandfather

I looked at the date and realized that today would have been my maternal grandfather's 99th birthday and I needed to do something to honor him. And for no particular reason I thought of his recipe for Hot Pepper Jam. Now, I don't particularly care for hot pepper jam, but I know, that of people who do they consider this quite a treat. But what I like about the recipe are my grandfather's directions. He was a scientist to the core and very precise. There was no pinch of this or a bit of that in this recipe. His personality shines through in this simple recipe and that's why I share it today - because in sharing the recipe I share a little bit of what my grandfather was like.


Hot Pepper Jam

4 lb sweet peppers
4 lb hot peppers
1 lemon
6 c vinegar
5 lb sugar
2 pkg (1 ¾ oz each) Sure Jel

I prefer red over green peppers – better flavor and more appealing color. These are available in late Sept. and early Oct. at the Public market.

Quarter the sweet peppers and remove stem and seeds. Cut tops off red peppers and leave seeds in. Quarter the lemon and use it all. Put peppers and lemon through coarse food chopper. Some juice may run out; catch it and add it to the ground mix. Place in a large pan or kettle with a heavy bottom.

Add vinegar and bring to boil.

Add sugar and bring to boil

Add Sure-Jel and bring to boil (about 102 degrees C or 217 degrees F) and continue to boil until the thermometer reaches 104 degrees C or 220 degrees F. while stirring. It is important to stir occasionally at the beginning and more often near the end. If you don’t, it might stick to the bottom or boil over and make a mess you will never forget. This will take about an hour, depending on the heat setting.

At this point put a test portion in a small container (bottle cap or milk carton cap) and cool it in refrigerator. If it is too runny when chilled, boil it a little longer. With practice you can tell by the consistency when it has been boiled down enough.

Pour into sterilized jelly jars and cover with melted paraffin wax. If the jars have screw caps and take dome lids, wax is not necessary.

You will love it or hate it. You can adjust the “hotness” by varying the amounts of sweet and green peppers. You might want to use half or quarter of the above amounts for a first trial, but if you like it make a big batch and give some to your friends.

by Leo J. Tanghe
(Originally appeared in the St. Charles Cook Book of St. Charles Borremeo Parish, Greece NY)
*photo from


HipWriterMama said...

"You will love it or hate it..." This is great.

Very cool your grandfather made hot pepper jelly, or any jelly for that matter. My sister-in-law puts hot pepper jelly on top of cream cheese and puts crackers around it or an appetizer. I was grossed out the first time I saw it, but it's really good.

This is such a nice way to honor your grandfather. Thank you for sharing the recipe. It's hard to lose someone you love and so wonderful when you're able to have a them in your heart and memories.

Anne K said...

Excellent choice, Christine. I also love your pepper picture. Maybe Dad should have put a warning in his recipes about wearing gloves when you handle the peppers. Remember when I burned my hands. Next year we'll have to have a celebration! Mom

Bill said...

Your gandfather mentions pouring the brew into jelly jars. He doesn't mention about removing the existing labels from the jars, which was apparently not part of the ritual. I remember having breakfast at their house once long ago and reaching for a jar of strawberry jam to put on my toast. Did I ever get a surprise. (I'm not a fan of spicy anything.) The rest of the family was amused by my reaction because they didn't make too much of a distinction between hot pepper jelly or any other kind of jelly.

I married your mother anyway, but I did elicit a promise that if she made any hot pepper jelly, she would label it or at least remove the old labels.