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What is Pepper Jelly?

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

This is a question I am asked very often? “What is that?” Some say, “I’ve never heard of it!”

Those of you who are fans of GENNY GRAHAM Pepper Jelly will know that pepper jelly is a sweet and hot ‘jam’ that is glossy and clear and has an intensely delicious piquant flavour. It can be used to give dishes a spicy lift, accompany cheeses, cold meats and veggies, and while used largely on savoury dishes, also works well on some sweet dishes too! However, what many don’t know is that it can also be used as a cooking ingredient. I’ve found it works brilliantly in soups and stews, as a glaze for your roasts, a help to dress your salads, sauces for your barbecue and a ‘pick me up’ for an unimaginative sandwich!

Pepper Jelly is a fairly modern condiment, having only been around about 50 years. It became popular across the Caribbean and in the United States around 1970’s, with homemakers and big condiment companies alike creating their own versions. It was usually made with habanero peppers or alternatively jalapeno peppers, which are much milder. These chilli peppers are mixed with sweet pepper for a more rounded flavour. The peppers are then ground down and cooked with sugar, vinegar and pectin until it sets. Some pepper jellies even have salt in their recipe. Unlike many other jellies, pepper jelly does not follow the traditions of ‘jelly making’ as is typical of the condiments that are sieved and strained, so is decorated with tiny pieces of the peppers or the other ingredients.

I found the inspiration for our pepper jellies in the Barbados Cookbook compiled by Peggy Sworder and Jill Hamilton. As a second-generation Bajan and food-lover, I was always interested in connecting with my heritage through food, so decided to give it a try myself. I started out giving it as gifts to friends at Christmas and with time, developed my own recipes. The version of Pepper Jelly we make at GENNY GRAHAM features the fiery characteristics of scotch bonnet peppers. These beautifully glossy berries change in colour and flavour as they ripen and, although only the size of ping pong balls, are very hot, having a Scoville heat unit (SHU) of 80,000 - 4,00,000. (That’s as hot as 500 Jalapenos!) Thankfully, we mellow out their fiery flavour with the addition of our own signature combination of demerara sugar, organic cyder vinegar, fruits, herbs and spices.

It has now become a dinner table staple in homes across the UK, with more people discovering it everyday!

Thanks for checking in!

Jenny x

Published 14th April 2021

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