This weekend the weather wasn’t optimum for swimming and/or tanning; the water was too cold, the overcast made it muggy, and I decided to take a cue from Ma Nature in that it was a good day, yesterday, to gather my surplus hot peppers and actually, you know, CAN them.
I’ve put up pickles and peppers before, but only for short term use. This time, I decided to try to SAFELY pickle and can them with a hot water bath for storage up to a year. I don’t have a pressure canner, or a canning pot with a rack, but I do have a spaghetti pot with a steamer basket, and since I only used half-pint jars this time, that pot worked perfectly. I will admit, though, that I will invest in that cool pot/rack combo I saw at the store yesterday. It would be perfect to prevent the boil-over that I experienced yesterday. 😉
As I mentioned before, our hot banana and jalapeno plants have been cranking out peppers like nobody’s business, and I love them so much, I sure don’t want to throw any away simply because I can’t eat them that fast. Nobody at work likes/needs/wants them, so the only solution was to can them.
After pouring over the Interwebz for instructions on safely canning, I found everything I needed. While I was sterilizing my jars, lids, and jar tongs, I was cutting up peppers.
The one item I forgot to pick up at the store was gloves. Fortunately I was careful and didn’t burn myself on the peppers, as I washed my hands a LOT after each time I had to handle them. I paid special attention to under my nails, and did a fairly good job on 9/10 of them. Apparently I did not pay close enough attention to one of my ring fingers, so, yeah. I felt that for a little while last night. Needless to say, when I do just jalapenos next weekend, I WILL have gloves!
Toward the tail-end of the sterilization process, I started my brine, which was a mixture of vinegar, water, pickling salt and oregano, as it needed to be at a boil before I could use it. While that was going, I prepared a garlic clove for each jar by hitting the side of a knife to split the clove and make it easier to peel.
Per the web site directions, I removed the jars from the hot water, and let them sit for a minute before packing them with the sliced pepper mix. I dropped a clove of garlic in each jar first, then started packing peppers into them. The recipe I used called for 1/4 inch head space, but I didn’t take into account that once all the air escaped after pouring the brine into the jars, I would have room for more peppers. I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry. 🙂
With the hubs’ help, I put the lids on the jars (he pulled them out of the water as I needed them), placed the rings on them “fingertip tight,” also per the web site instructions (how wonderful is the web, huh?) and got the water ready for the “bath” by placing half the jars into the steamer basket, and filling the pot with hot water until the jars were completely submerged. This recipe called for 15 minutes in boiling water, and everything I read said that if the water stops boiling, even for a short bit, the time starts all over for proper/safe processing. Once the water hit boiling, I set the timer for 15 minutes, and watched it like a hawk.
After the first batch came out, I placed the second batch into the water. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Several minutes in, the first batch started popping. That was a happy sound! I remember my mom waiting to hear each one of her lids pop, and then double checking to make sure they were all sealed.
All in all it was fun to do, made me feel like a badass in the kitchen, and then made me wonder why I’d been so leery of the process to begin with. Now that I’ve done it, I will probably can tomato/spaghetti sauce, too. I have a killer recipe that my grandmother gave me, and would rather can than put it in the freezer.
For those of you interested, the recipe for these peppers can be found HERE and the brine is just enough to do three and a half pints. This particular recipe references jalapenos, but as you can see, I used a mix of both.
If you try this, let me know what you think!
Until next time…