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Chilli Jelly - Alternatives to Jam Sugar

Asked by micthom10. Answered on 15th December 2011

Full question

I would like to make the Chilli Jelly from Christmas (p241) and don't have jam sugar but I do have bottled Certo and preserving sugar. How much would you suggest I add and when during the cooking process? Regards Michelle.

Hi, I'd like to make the Chilli Jam from Nigella Christmas, but I don't know if I can find the jam sugar where I live. What can I use instead of it?

Our answer

Jam sugar (sugar with added powdered pectin) is used for the Chilli jelly as the chillis themselves do not contain any pectin and would not set without pectin (a natural gelling agent) being added. You can add pectin to regular granulated sugar, it does not have to be preserving sugar. Preserving sugar is only different to granulated sugar in that it has larger granules that dissolve less quickly than regular granulated sugar and therfore slightly reduce the risk of small crystals of sugar sinking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

There are two types of pectin available. One is powdered pectin (such as Mrs Ball's, Sure-Jell, Silver Spoon - see links below) and the other is liquid pectin (Certo is the main brand wordwide). The main difference between the two is that powdered pectin is added at the beginning of the cooking process and liquid pectin is added at the end.

Unfortunately all of the pectins have slightly different recommendations for quantities to use and it is best to refer to the individual manufacturer's guidelines for quantities to use (bearing in mind that the liquid in the jelly is acidic so may need a slightly higher level of pectin that usual if you want a firmer set). We have in the past tested the Chilli Jam using granulated sugar and a 1.75oz box of Ball powdered fruit pectin (added with the sugar) but have not tested the recipe with Certo so cannot vouch for results using Certo. However looking at the Certo gudelines we suspect that for one full recipe of the Chilli Jelly you will need to use a full 250ml bottle (1 cup) of Certo. We would suggest boiling the sugar, vinegar and chilli mixture for 12 minutes, as this will evaporate some of the vinegar from the mixture, then take it off the heat and add the Certo. Bring the liquid back to the boil and boil for a further 2 minutes then let the jelly cool and thicken and decant into sterilized jars, as in the recipe.

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