January is maybe not the most exciting month to fill one’s pantry with jams, pickles and other preserves, but there is certainly still some work to be done. Pineapple, like certain other exotic fruits, is in full season here in winter and, given its low price and ubiquity, this is probably the best moment to put it into jars. This golden yellow jelly is until now the best pineapple preserve I have tested. The method, as well as my beloved hot and sweet flavours’ combination, make this jelly similar to Hot Pepper Jelly, Apricot and Chili Jelly or Green Tomato and Chili Jelly. A unique pineapple aroma is what makes all the difference.
This jelly goes well with both Asian and Western dishes. I often have it with grilled or stir-fried meat, vegetables, on steamed rice or as a sandwich spread and it’s fabulous with fish and seafood in general. You can also serve it as a dip with crackers, nachos or… why not with Baked Wonton Chips from my previous post?
-Some of you might have probably heard that pineapple (as well as kiwi and some other fruits) stop jelly from… jelling. This is absolutely true, but only when it comes to raw fruit. Cooked for some time, pineapple loses this troublesome characteristic.
-Since every pepper variety is different and everyone has different preferences (or chili resistance level), it is difficult to say exactly how many chilies should be used. Adjusting is not easy since the jelly tastes stronger when it’s still hot (and it should be put still hot into the jars). The best idea is to stick to the same chili variety, make a small first batch, put aside a couple of tablespoons and taste the mixture when it has cooled down. It might be too late for this batch, but it will give you an idea of how the following ones should be modified. Needless to say, the below amounts should be treated rather as approximate (this jelly was very hot).
-The sugar and vinegar amounts depend of course on your preferences, but also on the pineapple’s sweetness. Try with the minimal amounts (see below) and increase them if needed.
-It’s a good idea to prepare different hotness levels of this jelly and label jars as “slightly hot”, “medium hot”, “very hot” etc..
-Do not forget to write down the exact amount of chili, sugar, vinegar, etc. you have used, so that you can improve the recipe next season or simply make sure you stick to the good one.
Preparation: about 1 hour
1 kg pineapple (weighed after being peeled), i.e. approximately one big pineapple
160 g – 200 g (5,5 oz – 7 oz) caster sugar
10 bird’s eye chilies or 10 bigger medium hot chilies
160 ml – 200 ml (5,5 – 6,8 fl oz) cider vinegar (4,5%)
25 g powdered pectin
1 flat tablespoon salt
Core the peppers, discard the stems and wash thoroughly removing the seeds (or not, if you want a very hot jelly).
Peel the pineapple, cut into chunks and mix with chilies in a food processor.
Combine the mixed fruit with the remaining ingredients in a big pan.
Bring to the boil on high heat and, stirring, keep boiling for about 20 minutes.
Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Taste it and adjust the taste adding the vinegar, the sugar or the chili if needed (bearing in mind the chili and the vinegar taste is stronger when the jelly is hot). The most important is that the mixture doesn’t have a very sour taste.
Add the pectin and, constantly stirring, keep at medium heat for 10 more minutes.
/At this point you can (after the jelly has cooled down) either freeze it, or keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or process it in the jars, as described below, and store it in your pantry for at least a year./
Spoon the jelly, still hot, into clean and dry jars. Cover with lids. Leave the jars to cool.
Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the jelly, its level of hotness and don’t forget to mark the date.
In a dry place, with a moderate temperature, the jars should keep for at least a year (I have opened a two year-old one recently and it was in a perfect state).