Hotter than expected

Some months ago, I found a great little recipe for a pepper jelly made, not from raw peppers, but from Tabasco sauce. The first version of the recipe I found was from Tony Chachere of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning fame, even though it didn’t use any of his products.

The only trouble — and this may be because the recipe was from a microwave cookbook — is that it makes a relatively small quantity. (The recipe also calls for sealing the jars with paraffin, which is now deprecated.) Because of the difference in headspace, the recipe makes even fewer jars when you use lids than when you use paraffin.

Anyway, I’d been wanting to try it again. I went looking for the recipe and found a nearly-identical recipe at Food.com — still a small quantity, but I figured I could multiply the recipe. You can’t always multiply canning recipes, but I decided to take a chance.

So I bought some ingredients today at Walmart. But when I got ready to make the jelly tonight, I realized I had overestimated how much Tabasco sauce is in a bottle. I needed more than I had. I decided it would be safe to substitute a regular Louisiana-style hot sauce to make up the difference, but I also knew it wouldn’t be exactly as hot. So I added some red pepper flake — and I liked that idea anyway, because the pepper flake would make the jelly look a little more like traditional pepper jelly.

The jelly turned out a little hotter than I intended. It’s fine for me, but I’d wanted to give out a few jars to family members on Thanksgiving. I will probably still give out the jelly, but with a disclaimer that it’s hotter than I wanted it to be. If you use it the way many people use pepper jelly (spread or poured over a brick of cream cheese for a dip with crackers), I think the heat level will be just fine.

It made 11 half-pint jars. All but one of them have popped, and they’re still warm enough that I have not yet given up on that 11th jar. (If it doesn’t pop, I’ll just move it to the fridge and it will be chef’s treat.) UPDATE: I am going to try re-processing the last jar.