Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly

also Pepper Jam and Pepper Sauce

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly is a Jamaican favourite, and like all Jamaican recipes, everyone has their own secret ingredients. The flavour of Scotch Bonnet Peppers is unique, so this an essential ingredient, although other peppers such as Jamaican Country Pepper can  be used if Scotch Bonnet is not available.

I started out making pepper jelly when, after my wife's death in 2008, I nearly killed one of the plants that she had been nurturing for two or more years, by not watering it for about two months. It had always been scraggly and I had no idea what it was, but decided to try salvaging it, and doused it in water daily. Not only did it come back to life, but it turned out to be a Scotch Bonnet Pepper, and it bore profusely for three years before dying off.

What to do with all these peppers? Pepper Sauce, Pepper Jelly and Pepper Jam came to mind. But I had never been crazy about any that I had ever bought. So with a bit of experimenting I developed my own recipes for all three.

And all I can say is, either my friends like to punish me, or they really do love my pepper trio, because they keep asking me for more. I have even had to buy a case of Scotch Bonnet on one occasion, just to supply my friends. Hopefully, you will  take my recipe and add YOUR touches to it.

I prefer to make all three at once ... jam, jelly and sauce. This way there is no waste, and although it may sound complicated it is actually quite easy. I use a big saucepan and make a large batch with the quantities below, but you can reduce the quantities proportionately if you want to make smaller quantities. 

All three, Pepper Jam, Pepper Jelly, and Pepper Sauce, can be kept out of the fridge.

What You Will Need

You will need a supply of jam jars and sauce bottles. I usually bottle my sauce in empty vinegar bottles which I collect up, and I collect jam jars of every sort.

You will need the ingredients below, plus you will need two or three packs of granular pectin, or bottles of liquid Pectin. Add them according to the instructions on the pack.

You will also need three large saucepans. Keep the largest for making the jelly, and put the following into the next largest ...

  • 2 doz scotch bonnet (just remove the stalk)
  • 6 sweet pepper (cut in chunks, leave seeds if you wish ... I use red or yellow, but if as in the USA green are considerably cheaper then use green)
  • 2 Kgm Muscovada or dark brown sugar
  • Peel, with as much pith as possible, from two grapefruit (eat and enjoy the grapefruit)
  • 1 head garlic (separated into cloves and peeled)
  • 1 large piece of ginger (wash but don't need to peel)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon English mustard powder
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of gratered Horseradish (not Horseradish Sauce)
  • Cover with Cider Vinegar, usually between 4 and 6 bottles.

What To Do

  • Bring to boil and simmer till soft ... about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Let cool and mash all ingredients, or blend with a stick blender.
  • Decide if you want to make jam, jelly and sauce,  and which you want to make most of.

Pepper Jelly only

  • Strain off all the liquid, and discard the pith ... but why waste it? Why not make it into pepper sauce?
  • Put the liquid back in to the largest saucepan, as it tends to froth up when boiling.
  • Make jelly.


Pepper Jelly and Pepper Sauce


Pepper Jelly, Pepper Jam and Pepper Sauce

  • Strain off about a third of the liquid into another pot, and make and bottle jelly.
  • Strain off some more of the liquid into another saucepan until what's left behind is the consistency of a sauce.
  • Add a third to half of this sauce to the liquid you just strained off.
  • Make jam with this
  • Make sauce with the remainder of the sauce-like liquid.

Make and Bottle Pepper Jelly

Get enough jam jars to hold about three quarters of the liquid in the saucepan ... the volume will decrease quite  a bit as you boil it down.

  • Put the jars and lids on a draining rack and pour boiling water into them and leave till needed.
  • Bring the clear liquid in the saucepan back to the boil, add pectin according to the instructions on the pack or bottle, and boil, stirring gently all the time.
  • Ignore any other instructions on the pack or bottle about how long to cook for, and boil until liquid starts to froth, add a tablespoon of butter and stir.
  • Continue to boil until a few drops,  dropped into a saucer of cold water, set into a jelly.
  • Empty the water out of the jam jars, fill with the hot liquid, and rest the covers on top, but do not seal tight until cool.

Make and Bottle Pepper Jam

  • Bring the jam saucepan back to the boil.
  • Add a bottle or pack of pectin and a tablespoon of butter.
  • Boil until the mixture is like a thin jam (it will set a little as it cools).
  • Pour into jam jars.
  • Rest lids on top but do not seal tight until jars are cool enough to hold comfortably.

Make and Bottle Pepper Sauce

  • Bring the Pepper Sauce back to the boil.
  • If the sauce is a bit thick you can always thin by adding some more Cider Vinegar.
  • Pour into sauce bottles.
  • If using the Cider Vinegar bottles as your sauce bottles, there is no need to wash out or sterilise them with boiling water. Otherwise sterilise them first.

Enjoy your Jamaican Pepper Jelly, Jam or Sauce... and "Give Thanks" .

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