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How To Make Chilli And Basil Jelly

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: preserves
Author: Karon Grieve


  • 4 cooking apples
  • 3 sweet red peppers
  • 4 red chilli peppers
  • 1/2 " fresh ginger
  • Handfull Basil leaves
  • 1 lemon for juice and rind
  • Sugar and water


  • Quarter the apples, just leave on the skin and don't even worry about the cores.
  • Hack up the sweet peppers. All this stuff is going to be boiled up so there is no point in pratting about making delicate pieces, ain't nobody going to see them!
  • Hack up the chillies and deseed if you want to have a roof to the top of your head. Like it real hot, well throw in those seeds too. I did warn you tho'!
  • Peel and chop the ginger and add that to your pile of gorgeous goodness.
  • Chuck everything into a large pan and squeeze in the lemon juice and add the zest (which of course you will have remembered to remove from the lemon before you cut it and squeezed the damn thing).
  • Pour in enough water just to cover everything.
  • Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and let this stuff simmer for about half an hour.
  • Yuck! You want this stuff mushy and actually pretty repulsive looking. Take it off the heat and let it cool a few minutes before you handle it.
  • Pour it into a suspended jelly bag to catch all the pieces but let the juice flow through.
  • Now I usually use a rather odious looking muslin bag thing that i made and hang from a hook on the shelf. However I bought this nifty little gadget in a craft shop a couple of weeks ago for the filming in HQ. I wasn't prepared to have my old hanging bag give up on me during my herb jelly video, so I bought this kit which is great. You just hook the red plastic legs on to the rim of your bowl and then hang the cotton bag (part of kit) on the hooks round the edge. Hey presto the perfect jelly bag.
  • Leave this overnight to drain.
  • In the morning decant the liquid into a measuring jug.
  • I know, I know bit of a dramatic warning there, but if you try to wring out every last drop of juice from the bag you will make the finished jelly cloudy and that is SO not happening!
  • For every pint of juice you need a pound of sugar. A great opertunity to show off my Mum's old scales. Still used, still in action, so much nicer than those ever-so-practical digital scales.
  • Pour your juice and the sugar back into the pan. Oh come on, you did remember to wash it after yesterday didn't you?
  • Heat this gently to disolve the sugar and then bring it up to the boil.
  • Chop up those two chillies that you saved from yesterday. Now here's your chance to chop as teensy weensy as you like. Resist temptation to throw in the seeds too. Well maybe you want real fire jelly and like the seeds - you do? Well throw em in too gal, it's up to you!
  • Now chop the basil leaves very finely and make a nice heart shape of them and then forget to photograph it. Looked great honestly. Anyway, toss the chilli and basil into the pot of sugar and juice once it has been boiling for a few minutes.
  • The reason I'm adding the basil at this stage is that if you add it at the start of the process you can cook out all the flavour, you also run the risk of a slightly yucky coloured jelly, oh and thirdly - I forgot. Actually I'm glad I did as this was a far better jelly than I made last time so you see you live and learn......
  • I found it took almost 20 minutes for this lot to reach the setting point. Keep stirring.
  • Have your saucer in the fridge or freezer cooling ready to test the jelly for set. You just put a spoonful on the chilled saucer and pop it back in fridge for 5 minutes. If it comes out slightly set and your finger leaves a bare space when you drag it through and causes the jelly to wrinkle, it's ready to jar. If not continue boiling and test again.
  • Have your jam jars all sterilised and ready to fill. I was mine in hot soapy water and then dry in the oven. Careful handling the hot glass. Hot jelly and hot glass not a good combination on the health and safety lines. I put a tea towel under the jars so that if any fall over, get broken or jelly goes everywhere, then you can just pick the whole thing up by the corners and dump it.
  • Can you tell I've cocked this up before, hmmmm, thought you could.....
  • Give your jars a quick stir to make sure all those gorgeous bits of chilli and basil are whizzed about and hang there in suspension. Well worth fiddling about with a teaspoon for a minute or two to get this right.
  • Use wax discs if you have them and pop on the tids. Label the jars if you are the organised type who has their labels already written. Or if you are like me you swear you'll do it later and put them in the larder. There they will reside in glorious splendour with all their other unlabeled friends, and I will never know what I'm going to find in there.