I haven't been so good about posting our garden pictures because I haven't been so good about taking garden pictures. Last night and a few weeks ago, Drew made some hot pickled peppers out of the banana and jalapeño peppers that we've been growing in our raised bed. They've taken off like weeds in the last month! Having started canning almost anything we can in the last year, we decided to give these a whirl.
Now, a few words on canning- before starting to can last year, it seemed almost mystical to me. Most of my family knows how to can, and when you ask about it they reply that it's easy. That made me feel like I had to be missing something- it's like when you ask someone how they know they're in love and they say they just know. It's like canning was like that- until you just know, it seems like a complicated, black magic sort of kitchen exercise. Fortunately, canning is pretty easy, given that you speak with people who know how to can, obtain the right ingredients, and read up on the subject. We've canned jellies, beets, tomatoes, and now peppers, and all have turned out fine. I plan to post a canning how-to on here at a later date, but for now google it. Unless, of course, you already know how, and then you can smile and congratulate yourself that you're in the canning know-how club.
We used the Ball Blue Book guide to canning and their recipe for hot pickled peppers. Since we didn't have enough peppers for a full batch, we adjusted down the brine and followed the rest of the recipe.
First, gather your peppers. Wash and leave them whole or cut them into slices. We chose to slice. If you ever cut a lot of peppers, wear gloves or you'll be burning for days.
Next, make sure your canning station and supplies are ready- wash some pint jars (or a combination of pint and half pint jars) and the accompanying lids and rings. Begin to sterilize them in your boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your brine by combining vinegar, garlic, and water. We used white vinegar, but the recipe doesn't actually specify. Bring them to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
Now, once the jars are sterilized, pack the peppers into the hot jars. Really pack them in there tight. Leave at least 1/4 inch room between the top of the peppers and the top of the jar. Now, pour the hot brine over the peppers into the jar and use the handle of a spatula or a popsicle stick or anything that is kind of flat and has a little width to it to slide down into the jars and press against the peppers to let any air bubbles out.
Next put the lids on the jars and twist on the rings so that they're secure but not tight. The canning people call this "finger tight." Place the jars back into the boiling water canner, making sure that each jar is covered with water, and boil or process for 10 minutes. After that, remove from the canner and place on a surface, such as a wooden cutting board or a counter covered with a towel. Wait for the lids to make that exciting popping noise. To be around us, you'd think that's the whole reason we can.
Here's what you end up with! Both times we did about half batches. The recipe below is for a full batch and is taken from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Canning and Preserving.
Hot Pickled Peppers
adapted from the Ball Blue Book
2 3/4 lbs. assorted serrano, jalapeño, and hot banana peppers
6 cups vinegar
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup water
Makes about 4-5 pints
Prepare peppers and canning equipment. Combine the vinegar, garlic, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer brine 5 minutes.
Pack peppers into hot jars, pour over brine, and process in a boiling water canner 10 minutes.
What to do with all those peppers? Well, use them in Mexican cooking, eat them straight out of the jar, or top salads with them. You are only limited by your own imagination and tastes!
Do you can? Does this make you want to start? It's fun, and kind of exciting to tell people you made it yourself!