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Crew’s Mess: Jalapeno Pepper Jelly


Crew’s Mess: by Capt. John Wampler

More than a millennium ago, the only form of food preservation was by drying, salting or brining. It wasn’t until 1809 that Nicholas Appert invented canning as a new way for Napoléon to feed his troops. Revolutionary for its time, canning was considered a military secret. Commercial canning arrived in the United States in the mid 1800s but it wasn’t until the Civil War and the invention of the Mason jar that home canning took off. It is great for preserving fruit, vegetables, meats and making jams and jellies.


A stainless steel double boiler is best. A ceramic coated aluminum pot can be used if there are no scratches in the coating.

4 qt. stainless steel or coated saucepan

A candy thermometer

A wide mouth canning funnel

A jar tong for lifting jars out of the processing pot

Mason or Ball jars with lids.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly


1 cup seeded green bell pepper, finely chopped or ground

1/4 cup jalapeno pepper, finely chopped or ground, seeded if desired ( or more to taste)

4 cups sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 6 oz. packet liquid fruit pectin

3 -5 drops green food coloring (optional)


Mix peppers, sugar and vinegar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, to 220° on the candy thermometer.

Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour.

Add pectin and optional food coloring. Return to heat, and bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute.

While the peppers are cooking, in the big processing pot bring to boil enough water to cover the jars. Include the lids and utensils to sterilize for 5 minutes.

Ladle mixture into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars with the canning funnel to within 1/2 inch of top. Wipe tops of jars. Center lids on top of jars and screw on bands firmly. Half fill the double boiler with water (or large pot with bottom rack) and bring water to a full boil.

The boiling water should cover jars by at least 1 inch. Reduce heat to a gentle boil, cover and process for 10 minutes. After processed, carefully remove jars from water using tongs or a jar-lifter. Place upside-down on a rack or thick towels and let cool without moving for 12-24 hours. Jars will make popping sounds while cooling if sealed properly. Check seal on each jar by pressing down on lid; if it doesn’t push, it’s sealed. If it does push down, store in refrigerator until used. Properly canned, you can store this jelly in a cupboard for six to eight months. Refrigerate after opening. Enjoy – JW

Capt. John Wampler ( has worked on yachts for more than 30 years. His recipes are casual enough for anyone to prepare. 

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