This is adapted from the "Habanero Gold" recipe, which can be found in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I use fewer habaneros, as I grow my own and they are extremely hot, much hotter than those you would find in a grocery store, and it also omits the onion found in the "Habanero Gold" recipe. Use this as you would use any pepper jelly - over cream cheese, with other cheeses, as a glaze for chicken or other meats. Since this jelly does not have onion or garlic in it, it also makes a nice, spicy PB&J. I like to use a food processor to mince the apricots and peppers, because it does a nice job of getting them small enough, but doesn't turn them into mush. Finely mincing the apricots and peppers allows them to stay suspended throughout the jelly, instead of floating to the top of the jar. You could also use a blender, but if you are not careful the apricots and peppers could get too mushed up and turn into a puree. The idea of this jelly is to have nice small bits of apricot and pepper suspended throughout the jelly. A note on pectin amount: I use one 3 ounce packet of Certo liquid pectin, which results in a nice soft jelly - it is set, but if you shake the jar the jelly will wiggle a little. If you want a really firm jelly, like the kind you would buy in a store, use two 3 ounce packets of Certo. Some people like a really loose, almost pourable jelly to use over cream cheese, brie, or to use as a thick dipping sauce - if this is what you're after, use just half of a 3 ounce packet of Certo. Use a large stainless steel stock pot to make this - twice as large as what you'd think you would need. When the mixture reaches a full boil, it more than doubles in size, and if your pot is too small you will have a big, sugary mess to clean up off your stovetop. Always wear rubber gloves when working with hot peppers. The "5 hours" prep time includes the time needed to soak the apricots in the vinegar.
- Using a food processor, finely mince the diced apricots.
- Place the apricots in a large stainless steel stockpot, add the vinegar and cover. Let the apricots soak in the vinegar for at least 4 hours (can be left to sit overnight if you'd like, but 4 hours will do the trick).
- Using a food processor, finely mince the red bell pepper and habanero peppers.
- Place the apricots, vinegar, peppers, and sugar in a large stainless steel stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to make sure all the sugar dissolves.
- Once the mixture has reached a full rolling boil (a boil you can not stir down), it will double in size. Stirring constantly, keep at a full boil for one minute.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter, whisking until it is dissolved. Whisk in pectin and continue to stir for 3 minutes - this helps to evenly distribute the apricot and pepper pieces throughout the jelly.
- Ladle the jelly into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with damp paper towels to remove any jelly which got on the rims or the threads. Place the lids and the bands on the jars, just tightening the bands fingertip tight.
- Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, then remove and let sit, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours before checking seals. It is important to let them sit undisturbed for 12 hours because the sealing compound on the lids is still cooling and hardening, completing the seal. While the jars cool, you will hear a "plink" type sound from each jar - this is the jars completing the vacuum seal as the final air escapes the jar. After 12 hours have passed, remove the bands and check the lids - press down in the center of the lid. If you cannot push the lid down any further, the jar is sealed. If the lid "gives" a bit, and you can push it down, the jar did not seal. You can either put the band back on the jar, and reprocess it for another 5 minutes, or you can just put it in the fridge and use it within 3 months.