When I said onions made me nervous, I didn’t know what I was talking about. Onions are innocent. Garlic, on the other hand, assaulted me and drove me out of my own home. Maybe it was the conspiracy with chiles that turned the little cloves against me.
Two full heads of garlic blended to a paste with half-a-dozen Poblano peppers, mixed with apples and set to simmering in my kitchen for an hour: (1) gave me sneezing fits, (2) made me nauseated (truly), and (3) caused me to run outside and frantically scrub three-months’ worth of moldering leaf-fall from the patio. I was so happy to be away from the fumes that I would have done anything to stay out there. Unfortunately my reprieve was limited, because I had to strain the resulting mash through a jelly bag, letting it drip in my kitchen overnight, like a slowly leaking, sour smelling faucet. (Am I making you want to try this yourself?)
If I were to attempt this recipe again — and that’s probably not going to happen — I might try: (1) using less garlic, (2) roasting the garlic first, (3) using green garlic in place of mature heads (thanks for the link, Ernest), or/and (4) picking a chile that would better complement the other flavors in the mix. (I’m also aware that I violated my best “local and seasonal” intentions, allowing myself to be seduced by the dark and glossy green organic Poblanos that were trucked up Highway 5 from Mexico.) Besides having trouble with the process, I just don’t like the taste of what I turned out. The garlic is a raw burn, and there’s a murky off-note in the mix of flavors, even though I do like the hint of something smooth and sweet underneath it all. (That’s the apples and the sugar. And there’s the truth of it. I’m a fruit girl. I live for sweet.)
There were a couple of things I did like about this experience. One is my new jelly bag. I’ve never had a jelly bag before. After I got over the hurdle of saying “jelly bag” and accepted that my new accessory reminds me of elastic-waist granny panties, I realized what a useful thing it’s going to be. For other recipes. Later.
The other thing I liked is how I made myself feel better after it was all over. I definitely needed a lift, so I put my hands on something that I’d set aside for special. Thank you, Julia. Your Apple Apricot Almond Jelly acted on me like magic. I lifted the jar, tilted it just so, and held it up to the light of the gray rainy day. It glowed like a jewel and shifted its delicate weight like a true jelly should. And, Oh, the taste! Every element distinct. Gently fruity, subtly floral, effing fantastic. It started up a sweet, easy humming in my bones. Summer will find us, and it’s going to be good.
For the record, here’s what I did:
Garlic and Green Chile Jelly
2 heads of garlic, broken into cloves
6 Poblano peppers
2 1/4 pounds cooking apples, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound granulated sugar
Using a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle, make a paste of the garlic and chiles. Put the paste in a nonreactive, heavy-bottomed pot with the apples and 4 cups water. Bring it all to a boil then down to a simmer. Simmer until all the ingredients are very soft, about 40 minutes. Transfer the mixture into cheesecloth or jelly bag and let it drip for about 12 hours.
Put the strained liquid, vinegar, salt, and sugar back into the cleaned pot. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then cook at a boil until the setting point is reached. The original recipe suggested that 5 minutes might do the job here, but it took 15 for me.
Ladle into sterilized jars. I left 1/2 inch head space and processed in a water bath canner for ten minutes.
Yielded 3 half-pints of jelly and one slightly nauseated cook.
P.S. I want to say that, while I cribbed this recipe from Jellies, Jams, and Chutneys, I am in no way blaming the author for my troubles. (This book is jam-packed — ha! — full of recipes I still want to try.) The recipe didn’t tell me to use Poblano peppers and it was clear that the taste is for garlic lovers. I know that I’m only a garlic liker — but I really did hope that this month’s Alliums! can-jam challenge would present a good opportunity to do something for the hardcore garlic fans in my life. Next time I have that idea, I think I’ll just put them on a bus to Gilroy instead.