I managed to buy a jar of chilli jelly on a recent trip to the UK, but I’ve long fancied trying Fiona’s recipe and making my own; this stuff is too tasty and versatile to be reserved for special occasions. So I bought a couple of kilos of apples and eventually tracked down a selection of chillis in Carrefour (they can be difficult to find, since the French don’t do hot as in chilli).
The first lot didn’t look much like chillis I’ve seen before; they were relatively large and bell-shaped. “Do you think I should use one or two?” I asked Steve. He looked at them and scoffed. “Pah! They’re so big they can’t be hot, and they are French after all. Those small pointy ones will be hotter.” Boldly, he cut a bit off one of the bell-shaped ones and chewed it. A moment’s silence, then: “AAAAARGH!” Quickly, I handed him the antidote, a spoonful of yoghurt, and he swallowed it gratefully. “OK,” he croaked after a minute, “I’ll try the small ones.” Bravely he nibbled one: “Humph! Not hot at all!” Armed with this information I added one cut-up bell-shaped pepper, seeds and all, to my simmering apples.
The next day, I tried the disappointingly scanty juice that had dripped through the cloth. ‘Phwoarhhhh!” Luckily there was some yoghurt left. Well, maybe the sugar will tone it down. Hmm, only 400 ml of juice from 1.5 kg of apples? I did the maths in my head with difficulty, added the requisite sugar, and boiled it up — result, half a jar of jelly, admittedly a beautiful colour. This didn’t seem like good value, so I tipped the pulp back into the pan with more water and managed to get two more jars of pale, translucent jelly from it. Their innocent looks belie their ferocity though; I think I’ll have to put health warnings on them.
Later, a bit of googling suggests that Steve might have inadvertently scored a further point in the Omnivore’s Hundred: raw Scotch Bonnet pepper … if you try this recipe, I recommend you use less virulent chillis than I did, or at least remove the seeds!