Hot Pepper Jelly

Hot Pepper Jelly

Did your husband introduce you to any new foods when you got married?


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

“Oh! It’s hot!” my son exclaimed when I recently served hot pepper jelly with Greek yoghurt on Wheat Thin crackers. How can he have lived 33 years and I never introduced him to the Southern tradition of hot pepper jelly? Actually, I didn’t know about it until after I married. Hot pepper jelly is not a Midwestern food. Who ever heard of putting hot peppers in sweet jelly?

Apparently, anyone who grew up in the South. My husband is a Georgia-boy, born and bred. But, my sons went to family parties in Georgia every Christmas their entire lives. And, hot pepper jelly, red in honor of Christmas, was served at most of them. Maybe it’s an adult dish. Maybe he was told it was hot and just didn’t try it. Maybe he dug into the main and side dishes instead of lingering over appetizers and snacks.

But, as our connections to Georgia weaken with the loss last year of my mother-in-law and two years before of my father-in-law, I’m going to have to find a new source for hot pepper jelly. For most of my married life, it was a stocking gift. In recent years, I could pick it up at the annual Hogansville Hummingbird Festival in October, just in time for holiday entertaining. And, I’ll admit, I modified the tradition a bit for my own entertaining, substituting Greek yoghurt for the traditional cream cheese.

Start your own tradition. You don’t have to be from the South. There are lots of ways to make it, but the common ingredients are sugar, pectin, vinegar, sweet and hot peppers.

  • offers a simple recipe using several kinds of hot peppers, and you don’t even have to can it.
  • offers a recipe using jalopeño peppers, apples and cranberries that sounds delicious.
  • has a traditional, Southern-style of hot pepper jelly, using whatever hot red pepper you have growing in your garden.

This simple recipe from, sounds like an updated variation of what my mother-in-law used to make:

Red Bell Pepper Jelly


  • 2 pounds firm red bell peppers
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 small red chiles
  • 10 cups white granulated sugar
  • 6 teaspoons powdered citrus pectin


  • Halve and seed the bell peppers.
  • Cut them into small pieces and finely chop them in a food processor or blender.
  • Place in a non-reactive pan and add the remaining ingredients (seeding and chopping the chiles), except for the powdered pectin.
  • Put the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring.
  • Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about an hour.
  • Add the powdered pectin, increase the heat and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Skim the surface to remove any scum.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, ladle the jelly into warm, sterilized jars, and seal.
  • It will be ready to eat in about two weeks.
  • Makes about 10 cups.

Spread hot pepper jelly over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers.

What foods from your childhood do you treasure? Did you mother-in-law teach you to make anything from your husband’s childhood? What food memories are you building for your grandchildren?

To you and keeping memories alive for your grandchildren through food.

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru, Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers”


Don’t forget to follow Grandmother Diaries via Geek Girl on Facebook and Twitter.

Filed in: Recipes Tags:

Comments (7 )

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. JeriWB says:

    One of my friends in Idaho makes hot pepper jelly, and it's so good! My food memories as a child are of the meat and potato variety. Suffice to say, my foodie eyes were opened once I set out on my own and worked in a few good restaurants.

  2. carolcovin says:

    Working in restaurants is a great place to learn about food. I married a foodie.

  3. Around here polish sausage and sauerkraut are the ultimate comfort food. It is a memory from my growing up and has been passed down to my kids.

    My kids are always surprised when they spend time with their friends who haven't been exposed to the kinds of foods they have been exposed to. Most of their friends have no idea what jambalaya even is.

    • carolcovin says:

      Jon, I have a friend who has served polish sausage and freshly grated horseradish at her Easter brunch for 30 years, in a tribute to her Chicago roots.

  4. Susan Cooper says:

    I KNOW this is going into my must make file. I husband would think he had died and good to heaven If I made this for him. 🙂

    • carolcovin says:

      Susan, If you can make jam, you can add hot peppers. Food certainly stirs memories.

  5. Larry Crane says:

    I enjoy reading about the joys of good eating, and I think it's a wonderful "interest" to give to fictional characters a la one of the couples in the movie (and play) Dinner With Friends by Donald Margulies. I also think it would be funny and true to extol the ingredients and tastes of something you were cooking up— and only reveal at the tail end of the story that you're talking about a delicious meal for two called Savory Meatballs, one of my favorite frozen meals from Stouffers. Incidentally, it's one of my wife's favorites too, and she's a marvelous cook.