Pepper Jelly

2014-08-21 17.17.32We finally succeeded in growing bell peppers this year which, when combined with the jalapenos that we always have good luck with, gives us everything we need to make pepper jelly! We always get lots of requests for pepper jelly from friends and family and we like to keep some around for ourselves (its great on chevre!) but it takes a LOT of peppers. Next year I really need to make sure that we plant more especially since I’ve discovered that it works just fine to pop them in the freezer until I have enough ripe peppers – and enough time- to make a batch of jelly.


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Pepper Jelly

1.5 cups of finely chopped bell peppers plus one pepper set aside for garnishing

1.25 cups of finely chopped jalapenos plus eight peppers set aside for garnishing

5 cups sugar

1.25cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 pack liquid pectin


Chopped Peppers

Chop all of your peppers, removing seeds, except for the ones set aside for garnishing.

Pepper Jelly Cooking

Combine chopped peppers, sugar and vinegar in a pot and cook until the peppers look like this photo.

garnishing peppers

While your jelly is cooking, chop your garnishing peppers.

Bring to a rolling boil and add pectin, stir while boiling for a minute and then remove from heat.

Pour through a sieve into glass jars, removing all the cooked bits of pepper.


Add a couple of spoon fulls of garnishing peppers to each jar.

Process using waterbath canning method.

As your jars are cooling on the counter, flip them over or shake them occasionally to redistribute the garnish peppers. If you don’t do this, they will all float to the top where you can’t see them. For an attractive jar and an even distribution of pepper chunks in your jelly you need to catch the jars when they are still fluid enough for the pepper chunks to move around, but thick enough that they won’t rise back to the top!


Remember that I am not an expert at food preservation, so while you are welcome to be inspired by my experiments please do you research on safe food preservation techniques first!

Garden Progress

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Mom and Dad finally have their fencing up and are ready to put animals on the farm so mom came for a short visit this week and take her goats home with her. Naturally, I put her to work almost immediately. Today we…

  • finished spreading mulch in one of the perennial flower beds
  • reclaimed wood from a falling down fence to use as borders in the herb garden (p.s. don’t get in my Mom’s way when she is wielding a board sprouting old rusted nail…ouch)
  • put together a manure tea pot
  • planted indoor herb gardens so we can keep enjoying fresh herbs
  • emptied one (partial) trailer load of mulch AND went and picked up another load
  • and our biggest job for the day was completely re-doing the area along one side of the house that had been a weed filled mess. We pulled weeds, cut and placed cardboard, pinned down weedcloth and spread many wheelbarrows full of mulch. The difference is amazing. I only wish that I had pictures of the area before we started to show off how much it has changed. We planted some re-blooming Lilacs which will, hopefully, grow  into large bushes that hid the a/c units from view. All that is left to do on this bed is to decide whether we want to edge it with anything. I’d love to use limestone rocks like we see in rock fences all over KY, but am not sure where to get them…

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Flower bed wrapping around screened porch and small “stone” (cement) patio for grilling/smoking


Nearly we just have to wait for the little Lilacs to grow into big bushes!

But before you start thinking that I took advantage of my poor mom, we did feed her well. Chris made us amazing dinners both nights she was with us. First spaghetti with a sauce made from garden tomatoes, red wine, fresh herbs and assorted aged meats then homemade pizza covered in fresh pesto, goat cheese, more of those aged meats and sun dried tomatoes. I added some homemade chocolate goat milk ice cream for dessert. Of course, in addition to the tasty meals we also forced Mom to act as guinea pig for some of our new culinary experiments. The water kefir (both cream soda flavored and cranberry) and gingerale made from a ginger bug were heartily approved as was the goat milk yogurt and my new grapefruit & basil martini recipe. The kimchi, however, got a solid thumbs down from Mom. Chris still insists that its *supposed* to taste (and smell) like that…

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

Mom will be headed back to NC in the morning with Tinkerbell (who is feeling much better now!), Thelma and Marie loaded into dog crates in the back of her SUV. As soon as she gets home and gets the goats settled into their new home, her two new llamas should be delivered. Its going to be an exciting day on the Bullins farm!!

Garden Progress

I’m making progress on the never ending project that is our yard. With 5 acres, only a few years of home ownership experience under my belt and a limited budget I spend more time “learning important lessons” about gardening and lawn care than in actually being successful but at least I’m learning. Last year I tried re-doing several of our flower beds. They looked okay but then this year I let the weeds get established and then I just couldn’t get caught back up with them. Big mistake! In the future I will remember that all weeds must be destroyed while they are still tiny or else the garden will be a complete disaster. In addition to looking terrible, I  lost quite a few perennials that hadn’t had a chance to really get established  before the weeds took them over. Thankfully we’ve been having beautiful weather lately and I’ve had some extra time to get a lot of work done. There is still plenty of work yet to go, of course, but its motivating to see some progress!

Back of house, outside of family room

Back of house, outside of family room

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Back of house. My grandmother’s peonies in the middle with small boxwoods either side

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Peony from a different part of the yard, soon to be transplanted to join the other peonies

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Perennial flower garden in front, herb garden in back

I’m preparing all of the flower beds in this manner:

  • removing most of the weeds, but not worrying too much about really small weeds or grass or if I occasionally leave some roots behind
  • putting down a layer of cardboard (this should take care of any of the smaller weeds that got left behind and will make sure nothing has a chance to put out any new growth)
  • covering with weed cloth, making sure to overlap on the edges where it has to be joined and using metal pins to hold it in place around the edges. I’ve found in the past that if you don’t use the pins, the corners and edges will get pushed up or back, especially in places where water pools or runs
  • covering with hardwood mulch

You can see some of the progress photos of this system here.

For now, all of the beds are edged with stones. I don’t have quite enough of the stone to completely go around the perennial flower garden, though, so I’m trying to think of another option that is inexpensive and easy to maintain. Chris doesn’t need to be able to mow up right beside it since he uses a weed whacker for edging around the house and gardens. Got any good ideas?