Have you ever tried to deconstruct a dish and create a different texture with the same ingredients? I bet that if the result is satisfactory, you will feel like a professional chef, a magician or you will simply be very proud of your boldness. At least I was when, after mixing and thickening the Pickled Sweet Peppers (see the recipe here), I obtained a highly palatable sweet pepper spread.
I don’t remember how I got this crazy idea, but since the necessity is the mother of invention, I probably had too many peppers and not enough jars to pickle them… I remember I had also been looking for a smoother and less fiery alternative to the hot pepper jellies I make every year. I reduced the liquids, mixed everything, thickened with powdered pectin and, I don’t want to boast, but the result went beyond my expectations. Needless to say, I decided to double or triple the amount of preserved jars this year.
I prepare this spread with Hungarian kapia pepper (red and long), but of course bell peppers and other sweet peppers will also work perfectly well. The more aromatic and ripe the pepper, the better the taste will be. Thanks to the vinegar the colour stays vivid red even after a year spent in the pantry.
I use this spread on toasts, in sandwiches (instead of butter or mayonnaise), with grilled meat, with roast pork, on tarts and in crunchy rolls (see the recipe here). The possibilities are infinite.
Preparation: 2 hours + hot bath processing
1 kg sweet peppers
400 ml 4,5% vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
450 ml water
2 tablespoons salt
12 allspice grains
1 teaspoon black pepper in grains
1 tablespoon mustard grains
2 small bay leaves or 1 big
8 garlic cloves
60 g powdered pectin
Wash the peppers, core them and remove the stems.
Cut them roughly in four or six pieces.
Combine all the ingredients apart from the red peppers.
Bring them to boil. Throw the peppers into the pan and let everything simmer for 20 minutes.
Put aside for one hour.
Mix everything in a blender. Put back into the pan, add the pectin and bring to boil, constantly stirring.
Let it boil at medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
/At this point you can (after the spread 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!/
Pour the spread, still hot, into sterilised 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 spread and don’t forget to mark the date.
NOTE: For the readers who live in the USA, the USDA-approved canning method is different. You can find it described here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html.