Savory Spreads: Peppers and Plums

People have been making spreads with peppers and plums for a long time. Get jelly and chutney recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
People have been making pepper jellies for a long time. Some claim they’re Southern in origin, with roots in Texas and an official Pepper Jelly Festival in Alabama. They vary widely in color (from green to golden to red), spiciness (from sweet to jalapeno to habanero), and texture (from smooth jelly to marmalade-like spreads flecked with pepper pieces). But to ensure they store well on the shelf and in the fridge, all contain a lot of vinegar and sugar.

Although many recipes focus on the heat of chilies, I prefer a sweet bell pepper base with just a bit of heat mixed in. Many pepper jelly recipes also use commercial pectin and distilled vinegar, both of which are neutral in flavor. I prefer the depth added by fruit pectins and vinegars, so as with other savory spreads, I turn to tart apples to help the jelly set. Fresh lemon adds even more flavor and pectin.
Learn to make Sweet Pepper Jelly and Italian Plum–Apple Chutney

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Tomatillos

If you’re a gardener, you likely end your season with a rack of green tomatoes and a quest to find a way to use them. Sorry, but this is not that recipe. I gave up on green tomato salsas several years ago—the vinegar required to make the salsa shelf stable when water-bath canning has always seemed overpowering.

Instead, I fell for the lovely green lanterns that grow into tomatillos, the traditional base for salsa verde. These little husked fruits clock in at pH 3.83, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, well below the safe level for water-bath canning. The added acid simply covers the secondary low-acid vegetables and boosts the flavor.

Tomatillos are as easy to grow as tomatoes; just be sure to buy two plants so that they cross-pollinate. Not surprisingly, I prefer them grilled like tomatoes—and have found yet another beverage use for their juice. Learn to make Grilled Tomatillo Salsa and Grilled Tomatillo Margaritas