Putting the hot pepper jelly to a taste test

As we made our version of the Cayman pepper jelly, we were a little concerned about the color. Ours seemed to have a lovely amber hue, while the original was darker and more opaque. Once our jars had rested and the jelly had set, we came to the moment of truth. How did it compare to the Cayman product we so admired?

We spread water crackers with each. As we had observed, our jelly (on the left) was paler and more translucent. It also appeared to have fewer bits of pepper pulp in suspension. We sniffed. Ours had a slightly acrid nose. The original smelled sweeter and darker—almost like French onion soup. That should have been the tip-off.

Then we tasted. Ours was still sharper, maybe even a little hotter than the original. It also had a distinct flavor of raw peppers—both sweet peppers and chiles. The original was smoother, with a long finish of roasted garlic and caramelized onions next to the fruity flavors of the family of peppers that includes habañero, Scotch bonnet, and the mild Cayman seasoning pepper.

Final judgment: Our jelly will be fine as a marinade ingredient, but we won’t be eating it on crackers just yet.

We’re guessing that the secret Cayman recipe calls for cooking the peppers with onion and garlic before proceeding with the next step. Oh well—the people at Pepper Patch spent four years working out the kinks in their recipe. We seem to have mastered the right amounts of thyme, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. Our biggest challenge will be to get the pepper mix right. The sweet bell peppers, no matter how ripe, are the wrong flavor. We will need a whole lot more Cayman seasoning peppers before we try this again. Check in next fall, after we’ve harvested the garden.

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Pat and David

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01 2010

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Dear Hungry Travelers.
    It’s Carol Hay here, the maker of Cayman’s famous pepper jelly. They say copying is the best form of flattery so I’m chuffed that you should be trying to imitate my gourmet concoction. Many have tried and many have fallen short. I’ll give you a tip: You have to be born under the sun and grow up with sand between your toes!
    Tip Number two: next time you visit my Island home, don’t travel with carry-on, bring a huge bag to pack copious jars of my jelly and then you’ll have your favourite condiment year-round!
    Joking apart, thanks for your compliments and when visiting Cayman again please look me up.

  2. Pat & David #

    Thanks, Carol. You’ve created a classic! We have just one more trick up our sleeves. (See next post.) But we will be sure to look you up next time we’re on Grand Cayman.

  3. 3

    Can’t wait to see what “trick” you have up your sleeve. It better be good because you are so w-a-y off mark with your first try. Just give up and visit Cayman again to stock up!

  4. Pat & David #

    Dear Carol — As you know, it is impossible to duplicate any taste away from its birthplace, and your recipe is clearly complex — and really effective. But since we’ll grow aji dulce for other culinary uses, we can at least try for our own amusement. Next time we’re on Grand Cayman we’ll bring an extra checked suitcase!

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