Modified habenera recipe... is it safe?

bunnyman(Thumb of MI)September 27, 2011

So I'm loving the habanera jam and so are my friends. Using homemade pectin made from wild apples which I have a tree or two full of. Occured to me that the pectin is adding 4 cups of liquid so the recipe is modified from the Habanera Gold recipe that was posted here. With lots of people clamoring for me to make them a jar I'm now concerned with something that is going to be safe. Right now I'm putting my jars in the fridge and recommending that they be stored there to the people I'm gifting.

Is there a acid content or sugar content I'm looking for to make this a safe jam? Should I bump up the vinegar content to make it more acid? Already went and bumped the vinegar in the last batch and it tasted okay.

Any opinions on whether it is shelf safe after BWB canning... I bumped the boil time to 12 minutes to get a better boil going inside the jars.

Still limping along by adding Certo pectin as I don't have time to experiment. Really don't want to use liquid pectin.

So far no real safety issues as people are opening and eating the whole jar rather quickly. Still I don't want to put out what might sit on a shelf somewhere for a time before being used. Poison myself fine but poison others never!

: )


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Can you post the recipe you are using, including the substitutions. That is the only way people can truly advise on safety issues.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 2:19PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If using windfall apples there is already a pH issue since they require acidification and adding 4 cups of liquid to any recipe will change the pH even more so yes, I'd sure think additional acid would be required. How much would just be a guess and worth little.

Like pixie said we really need to see the details and measurement you are using. Especially why it is taking so much added liquid?

It is one thing to modify acidic fruit jams and jellies. Something else entirely to modify low-acid recipes like this one so without all the details I'd come down on the UNsafe side of the line. Is there a reason why you can't stick to the recipe when making this particular jelly since it is a low-acid one? It is wonderful just as written.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 3:17PM
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I saw you posted a "narrative" below, but measurements would help. Kraft has some recipes on their site (using Certo and Sure Jell), so does Ball, and it seems about 1/2C of 5% vinegar for every cup of low-acid ingredients is the rule of thumb. Can you measure the peppers after you chop them and tell us how many cups of peppers and how much vinegar you are using? Are you using any apricots? If you are using regular (not no-sugar) commercial pectin and/or homemade pectin and it's setting then you have enough sugar - but you need enough acid not only to gel but also to acidify the peppers.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 3:51PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves offers a Red Pepper Jam, a Hot Green Pepper-Lime Jelly and a Hot Red Pepper Jelly. All call for homemade apple pectin. Perhaps we could work off one of those to determine proportions. The apricots are irrelevant. It's the peppers and onions that are the issue.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Linda Z has you salting and draining the peppers, though, for her Red Pepper Jelly. So might use less vinegar than you would for fresh peppers.

I was just wondering if you're using apricots, how much vinegar is soaked up by them and how much is available for the peppers. Gotta make sure you've got some liquid vinegar in the pan/bowl when adding the peppers.

I looked up your recipe on the pectin thread you started and it looks like 1/4C apricots to 3/4C vinegar so I'm guessing you still had some liquid? But still need to know measurement on peppers.

BTW, I wouldn't rehydrate the apricots in a plastic container. Don't want nasty chemicals to leach out into the vinegar. Use glass or SS.

Small Batch has a Sparkling Pepper Jelly that uses 1.5C of peppers (far more than you are) and 3/4C vinegar. I don't think the homemade pectin is an issue - even using windfall apples - if there is enough free acid (after soaking the peppers and apricots) to get it to gel. Now, if you were using Pomona or a no-sugar pectin, that might be a concern.

I haven't made pepper jelly with homemade pectin from windfall apples, but have made plenty of fruit jellies with it and there's no problem. Then again, my windfalls and thinnings have been unripe, so lots of pectin (and acid - they're tart!) in them. I only use ripe (bruised) windfalls for applesauce and butter, and add lemon juice to those. I also add 2 Tbsp of lemon juice per batch or jelly to to be sure.

Are your apples ripe? Are you picking them, or are they windfalls?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 5:26PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Now the issue is really getting confused.

What "narrative below", as Carol said apricots have nothing to do with it, windfall apples are borderline pH regardless of how "tart" they taste, not all homemade apple pectin is made the same which is why details were asked for, salting and draining peppers isn't related to how much vinegar is required, and the OP said she is using the Habanero-Gold recipe posted here.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 7:37PM
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bunnyman had posted what he/she was doing (number of peppers but not measurements) in the apple pectin thread. I explained why I thought apricots would make a difference (if they soak up the vinegar and peppers don't. I said salted drained peppers "might" require less vinegar than fresh b/c I wanted to point out that difference in the Red Pepper Jelly recipe in Joy of Jams, not have anybody rely on that one recipe for ratio.

As far as windfall apples, I know unripe fruit has more pectin - I thought more acid too than ripe. Maybe I'm wrong. But just pointing out that I haven't used homemade apple pectin for pepper jelly (and still think additional acid is required), have just mixed it with fruit juice.

Carol had posted Linda Z's homemade pectin recipe in the previous thread so I assumed that's what bunnyman was using.

Sorry if I confused things more, I did say that we need measurements and it would be nice to know what kind of apples are being used, for the reasons you pointed out.

Bunnyman isn't really using the Hab Gold recipe, that's the issue, so it would be nice to have the entire recipe he/she (sorry, is Lyra your name, I assume female?) is using posted here for review, with measurements if possible.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bunnyman's apple pectin thread

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 8:10PM
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bunnyman(Thumb of MI)

I'll link below to the Harvest Forum thread that I got the jelly recipe from... I'm sort of following the first. A little loose with the measuring but fairly close. I'm using regular pectin not the low sugar box I saw at the store. Other then the apple pectin I've subbed jalpenos for the sweet bell because I have very mild sweet jalapenos from my garden. No problem at all with the way this jelly tastes! Still making more because I have lots of peppers and apples.

Apples are being picked off the tree... I stand on the seat of my tractor. A couple people wrote I should use the greener ones which I am. Deer clean up all the windfall and eat everything they can reach... enough for everyone. One tree is probably granny smith and the other ida red... they grew wild but looks and taste are dead on for those apples. No pesticides used on my property so these are nice organic chemical free apples.

At some point I'm going to lose the powdered pectin I'm adding and go with straight apple pectin. If it does not set I'll use it as a wing dip. Already tried the jelly on deep fried chicken and it is a good match. Another possible pectin source would be wild grapes but I don't know how those flavors would go.

Lack of measuring is a habit from my cooking style. I live alone and cook to my taste so if it smells good it is dinner. I have a garden so often dishes have to include what there was to pick today. I'm 'bunnyman' from the days I had a herd of rabbits. I answer to both Lyra and Michael... transgendered person. Not really important here what name you wish to use. When I first got on the Internet years ago it seemed like everyone had some unique made up name... sort of like the old CB radio days.

This jelly thing has turned into a small adventure and I'm loving it.

Here is a link that might be useful: hab jelly thread from 06

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 2:34AM
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Hi Michael/Lyra! There are a lot of recipes on that thread, you are using the first one? But cutting apricots to 1/4C (as you said in the thread I linked)? No problem subbing peppers as long as you don't exceed the measurements (don't sub peppers for apricots though if you reduce the apricots it may be a bit runnier, or not yield as much). Measurements really are critical in canning though so you'll have to modify your cooking style to be more precise just in this one area.

Gotta go wake little AJ for school - I'll check back later.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 7:03AM
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I'm back - too wet still to pick the garden for market.

Here's what you said on the pectin thread:

"4 large ripe Caribbean Reds.
3 small ripe orange Burpee habs.
2 ripe red jalapenos
1 green jalapeno

Habeneras can be eaten green. They have a different heat and are milder... certainly a variation I'll try in the future. Recipe calls for sweet red bell pepper that I didn't have so the red jalpenos were substituted.. and a green one for color... pretty jam.


1/4 cup of dry apricots cut into tiny pieces then put in a plastic jar to soak in 3/4 cup 5% white vinegar for 4 hours.

Chop fine 2 Caribbean Red and all other peppers into the apricots & vinegar. (using gloves)
Chop fine 1/4 cup or so of red onion.. and toss in vinegar/peppers/apricots.

Mess around all afternoon picking two kinds of apples and boiling apple chunks in 4 cups of water with a shot of lemon juice in it. Stain all apple bits leaving the liquid. Simmer liquid for hour while playing with grape juice. Nine small apples did not seem like much so I added chunks from 6 medium apples and boiled them. Figured I'd add the last two Caribbean Reds at this point.. they boiled awhile and were removed with the apple pulp when I strained it a second time.

Put pepper/onion/apricot/vinegar mix into the microwave and brought it to a boil. Wanted them peppers cooked... then added it to my saucepan of homemade "pectin". Wondered if it would be enough so I put in a 1.75oz box of certo pectin.

Finally 3 coffee cups of white sugar.

About this time my canner water was boiling. I put in 4 pint jars to warm.

Meanwhile the saucepan was boiling up a foam and smelled good.

Discovered I needed a 5th jar while filling... a perfect 5 pints.

Last jar didn't get warm enough so it didn't seal.. fridge sampler."

So 1/4C apricots instead of 1/3 - no big deal, still 3/4C vinegar, 1/2C (please measure!) peppers and 1/4C onion? And you said you bumped the vinegar up (to what, a cup?). Again, no problem.

But then you add 4C of apple pectin (made by Linda Z's recipe, or close, with 2C of water for each lb of apples, strained, and then reduced by half? Weigh the apples next time - you may be getting apple-scented water and not a good juice or pectin at all, we can't tell. You added a "shot" of lemon juice - so does Ellie Topp - may not be necessary but not a bad idea. Ellie doesn't reduce her pectin so might need more of it and longer boiling to get the jelly to set).

But we really need to know if you're reducing the pectin a la Linda Z, or using "regular strength" like Ellie Topp to be able to guesstimate how much acid/pectin is actually in the "stock". Or use the tests for acid and pectin that Linda Z gives in her book (Carol posted the one for pectin, the one for acid is a taste test - don't use the same sample though ;-)!)

3 coffee cups of sugar could be 4-5 measuring cups - do you own a set of measuring cups/spoons?

Now you're really deviating from the Hab gold recipe, and more like the Red Pepper Jelly recipe I posted on that thread, but with added apricots.

Also, I just noticed that you're using pints - and got a huge yield (over double what Hab Gold or Red Pepper Jelly would give you, and still more than what the NCHFP Mayhaw Pepper jelly yields). That could be a problem.

Also, jelly will set up better in smaller containers - go buy some halfpint jelly jars.

I think you'd better stick to the Hab Gold (or Big Batch Confetti Jelly) recipe if you want the apricots, or use a tested recipe like Linda Z's (remember to salt the peppers to draw out more of the water!) if you want to use homemade pectin, or the Mayhaw Pepper (subbing apple juice for Mayhaw juice) if you want to keep making this.

Without measurements, and with so much liquid and such a large yield, I can't tell if it's safe or not. I don't even know how you're getting such a large yield with 4C of apple juice/pectin and less than a cup (after soaking) of vinegar. Did you mean half pints instead of pints?

Maybe someone more experienced will weigh in now that I've copied your recipe from the other thread.



    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 9:39AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Rather than trying to make sense of exactly what it is you are doing I'm going to stick with your original question:

With lots of people clamoring for me to make them a jar I'm now concerned with something that is going to be safe.

While I'm glad you are concerned, you should be especially when giving gifts. And the answer to your question based on what can be sorted out of the info given is no, it is not.

If this was jam/jelly made with one of the normally acidic fruits then there is some room for a casual, poorly measured approach. The fruit itself provides the protection.

But you are playing around with low-acid ingredients that not only carry with them the risk of botulism but provide no natural protection of their own.

To be safe, low-acid ingredient recipes require sticking to the recipe, precise and accurate measurements, and minimal changes if any if safety is to be assured.

Your approach as outlined above is full of risk. That risk is yours to take of course. But it should not be casually treated when giving as gifts.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Don't even bother to process the jars if you keep making it this way - sealing them makes it riskier. Just pour it into sterilized jars and refrigerate.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 1:05PM
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bunnyman(Thumb of MI)

Yup, jars are warmed in boiling water and the jelly is in the fridge. You are right they are half pints. My first time playing around with canning anything in years. My parents had me pack stuff as a kid but that was 40 years ago... I hardly remember other then don't touch your face after working with peppers.

Probably make some grape jelly this Sunday. Should be easy after all this. Huge crop of wild grapes this year... can't let them get away. So far been drinking my grape juice mixed with vodka... more alcohol then I need to be drinking so I'm locking the grape juice into jelly jars... oh so good as a mixed drink.

I appreciate the input. Hopefully some of it sinks in... I can be slow at times.

: )

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 12:38AM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I made a measly 6 jars of wild grape jam from wild grapes my husband picked for me. My oldest daughter really loves it. We're down to 4 jars already.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 6:15PM
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I got a lot of juice out of about 5 lbs of wild grapes (picked in 2 batches) - of course I mixed with wild apples too. Over a dozen jars of jelly in the basement and 1 big jar of pot scrapings/failed seal (1 half pint) in the fridge. But my kids are still working on apple butter.

Lyra - I don't know if you do this to make grape juice for wine, but after you boil the grapes to juice them and let drip, put the juice in the fridge overnight, then strain again (I use 4 thicknesses of boiled muslin) to get any crystals out, and you'll have beautiful clear jelly. I added lemon juice and found some of my jars weeping (very acid grapes and/or apples) so I'd just use 4C of juice and 3C of sugar (please use measuring cups!) and boil it down in a BIG pot (it will foam up) til it sheets off a room-temperature metal spoon (you'll see the last couple drops hanging there), or use the frozen plate test (though that doesn't seem to work as well for jelly as jam).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 8:56AM
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