Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hot Pepper Mustard

Ok, I've been canning for 2 weeks straight!  I put up lots of goodies for winter and I've lost count now how many batches of this sweet/hot pepper butter I've made.  I've given away a few jars to friends and family and have had several requests for the recipe, so here it is...

You won't find this recipe in the Ball Blue Book.  My guess is that they don't approve of it because it contains flour as a thickener.  I've made hundreds of jars of this and have yet to have had any go bad.  My dad loves this stuff and if you could can it in gallon jars, he'd be all for it!

It is the perfect dipping mustard.  We like it with cheese and summer sausage, on ham or turkey sandwiches, for dipping pretzels and it also makes a great glaze for a baked ham or venison roast.

I originally got this recipe from a lady at my dad's church.  My dad then ran over to Ohio and bought a bushel of U-Pick hungarian hot wax banana peppers and begged me to make him a lifetime supply of mustard.  The original version was a little too flaming hot and salty for our tastes, so I've tweaked it a bit and clarified the directions a little.  Here's my version...

(UPDATE:  08-02-11 -- I have later come to learn that using  flour as a thickener is considered a big no-no according to official canning standards (as per BBB and University Ag. Extension agents.)  I will tell you that I have made many batches of this mustard and have never had any trouble with it.  Also the older lady from my dad's church who gave me the recipe has been making it for years. 

Clear-Jel is considered the only acceptable thickening agent for canning.  The concern is that the flour may inhibit the jar from heating thoroughly all the way through.  I do not recommend making this in quart jars, for this reason.  If you do choose to make this recipe, I just want you to be aware of this issue and be sure that you process your jars properly and for the recommended length of time.  You may want to try it with the Clear-Jel to be on the safe side.)


(UPDATE:  10-16-14 -- I just canned up two batches today using the Clear-Jel instead of flour.  It takes less Clear-Jel than flour to thicken.  1/2 to 3/4 of a cup is plenty.  The consistency is just as nice as flour and actually tastes a little better I think.  

I bought a new rack for my BWB canner and since it doesn't have dividers, I can fit 13 half-pints into one batch.  That still leaves about 6 half-pints more in the pan, so either leave it on a low setting to wait or you could divide the measurements of the batch in half.  I ended up with 36 half-pints of pepper butter.  Guess that will be what everyone is getting for Christmas this year.)

Hot Pepper Mustard (Butter)

(yields about 7 pints)
  • 4 quarts chopped hot and/or sweet banana peppers (3.3 lbs or about 36 large peppers)
  • 1 qt. vinegar
  • 1 qt. prepared yellow mustard (don't go cheap, get a good quality mustard)
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp. salt (optional; I use 1 tbsp.)

1. Wearing vinyl gloves, cut up and deseed/devein the peppers.  Remove stem and blossom ends and cut into large chunks.  You can toss in some of the seeds if you want it really hot.  I go about 50/50 on the ratio of hot and sweet banana peppers.  This gives it a kick without burning your tongue off!

     I also like to take a few dark red peppers aside and chop them by hand before adding to the pot.  They look really nice suspended in the golden yellow of the mixture.

2. Puree the peppers in a blender using some of the vinegar.

3. In a large pot, combine all ingredients except the flour.

4. In a small bowl, add enough water to the flour to make a smooth paste.  Be sure to work all the lumps out.

5. Add flour paste to the mixture.

6. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

IMPORTANT -- Try not to let the mustard boil as this will incorporate air bubbles into the mixture.  Air bubbles are the number one cause of the mustard boiling out of the jars in while in the water bath.  If you think it looks bubbly, let it sit awhile on the lowest heat setting until they are gone.  Stir gently.

7. Pour into hot jars leaving 1/2" headspace.  Wipe rims and place lids.  Hot water bath 15 minutes for pints and half-pints.


I made a bunch of half-pints to give as Christmas gifts.  I try to can something special every year just for that purpose.

Well, now I am on to green beans.  I picked 5 gallons this week.  I am loving my Nickell heirloom pole beans I got from Sustainable Mountain Agriculture, Inc.  They are so tender and flavorful.  I am saving seeds for trading and may do a giveaway later on.

The garden is close to finishing up.  I have a few fall crops to put in yet.  I am getting ready to till the main garden up and plant it to buckwheat for my bees (who are doing great, btw.)  August is really my busiest time of year!


  1. I also mk this mustard and I use flour for thicken as well and have never had any prblems. The ONLY prblm I have is EVERYONE wanting me to mk it for

  2. I've had that same problem too. ;) I continue to make it with the flour as well.

  3. My husband swears by this recipe and everyone begs him for it.

  4. Does anyone have the original lady's hot and salty version? Before the recipe was tweeked? Any help is appreciated.

    1. This is the original recipe. Just add the full two tbsp of salt if you want. She also went half and half on the peppers. You can always go hot all the way, if you dare... ;)

  5. I just came across your page and my heart almost sank when I saw your comment regarding not using flour as a thickening agent. In the USDA's official Complete Guide to Canning, Guide 6, Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables, they in fact use flour in their recipes. I am entering my relish our state fair and I am curious where you saw this? I have searched with no luck. Thank you!

    1. That is an interesting point you have there, Marge. I do see that one recipe for Pickled Corn Relish in the USDA guide ( ) which mentions adding up to 1/4c. flour mixed with an equal amount of water into a paste if desired. It was however the only recipe I found after searching their site and the guide #6 PDF for the word "flour".

      It has been a few years, so I can't remember now who broke the news to me on this. I did question it initially and I researched quite a bit online at the time which led me to make the edit. There are no officially tested sources that I am aware of for a Hot Pepper Butter recipe and the original recipe did call for significantly more flour at one and 1/4th cups per batch, so that may have had something to do with it.

      My 2008 copy of the BBB avoids the topic of both flour and cornstarch as thickeners entirely, by either omitting those recipes that called for it in previous editions or confining them to the freezer section (i.e. apple pie filling). It is certainly not recommended to add any thickeners to a recipe as an improvisation or to change any listed amounts since it may affect processing time and heat penetration. After a little digging, I do see that there are also a few other lab tested relish recipes out there using a small amount of flour that have been ok'd, mostly from Canadian sources.

      Like I said above though, I wasn't really deterred from using the flour, since this recipe has been safely made by me many times and I trusted the source I got it from. I am unable to recommend it to others though without the disclaimer that flour is not officially tested as safe in this recipe. Being untested, they may not like the Clear Jel in there either, now that I think of it. I was new to blogging at the time and perhaps now with experience I would avoid posting the recipe altogether just to be on the safe side. I have found the same recipe many other places on the internet though, just none "tested and approved". The closest lab tested recipe I could find today was for Hot Pepper Relish ( ) using 8 lbs. of coarsely ground up peppers to 2.5 cups of vinegar. My Hot Pepper Butter recipe uses 3.3 lbs. of peppers to 4 cups of vinegar which is nearly four times more acidic.

      Since I later tried it with the Clear-Jel, I do now prefer the consistency of it made that way. The flour has a tendency to clump up sometimes and I would have to pick them out with much aggravation. From what I understand, the scientific reasoning behind it is that flour affects the density of the product and it is possible that it may not heat uniformly throughout. Another thing with the cook-type Clear-Jel is that it does not thicken entirely until it is out of the canner and cooling down.

      The best information I was able to find on all of this today was at She has well-cited sources for her info. If you are using a USDA recipe, I'm sure your fair entry will be just fine. Good luck and I hope you get your blue ribbon! :)

  6. made this last night with Hungarian hots absolutely amazing flavor. brought some into work and have had several people offer to pay me for them.

  7. I am on my second batch of this, leaving all the seeds in this time to make it hotter for my husband. we just love it.I have given some jars out and all said they are ready for more. I used hungarian wax, jalepeno& red serano peppers. When I made my flour mixture, I just used my processor to make sure of no lumps, plus it gets the rest of the pepper mixture that might still be in the processor. Thanks for the recipe, it is a keeper for sure (: