We had a great suggestion on another article asking us to talk about how to preserve the beautiful summer produce. I “can” extensively at home. I have a very serious food allergy and I grow a very large garden so I can make a lot of my food from scratch. When the harvest is too big to use at once, I can what I can’t eat. This guide will show you how to make pickled hot peppers. Canning is not foolproof and it might take a few tries to get something shelf stable. I made some beautiful plum wine one year when it went bad in my cellar. It’s cheap and fun to preserve so take an afternoon one day and give these recipes a try! Remember to check out my article on how to can plums tomorrow!

How To Can Peppers

I love spicy food and I grow a lot of different hot pepper in the summer. Use this recipe as the basic formula for any savory vegetable. Switch out the hot peppers for sweet peppers, green beans, carrots, or any harder vegetable. I wouldn’t try this with tomatoes though.

Step 1: Prepare the Peppers. Start with 8 pounds of any vegetables you like. I use a mix of sweet red peppers, Asian chili peppers, banana peppers, and one or two habanero  peppers. Make sure the peppers are in very good condition and they’re still very crisp. If you want things to be not so spicy, remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers. You can keep the peppers whole or sliced any way you like. I keep the small peppers whole and the large ones get a rough chop. This is all up to your tastes.
Step 2: Prepare the Jars. I use the dishwasher to make my work a lot easier. Run the jars with their lids through a disinfecting cycle, or the hottest setting you have. Keep the lids in the hot dishwasher while you work. This keeps them clean and will help stop any bad bacteria that try to make home in your preserves. At the same time, clean your canning pot and set it up following the makers directions. It usually has a metal grate that goes on the bottom to allow for even heating. Again, make sure everything is sterile and clean.

Step 3: Combine Your Pickling Liquid. In a new pot, combine 5 cups of 5% vinegar, 1 cup of water, 5 tsp of pickling salt, 1 tsp of pickling spice, 1 tsp of hot pepper flakes, 2 tbsp of sugar, and what other spices you like. Normally you would add 2+ cloves of garlic at this stage, but I happen to be very allergic to it so I skip it. It would be lovely to add up to 10 cloves though for a super spicy garlicy result.

Heat the liquid to a boil and simmer until the salt and sugar are incorporated. Continue to boil to infuse the spices, for around 15 minutes. This lets the garlic cloves soften so they will be delicious pickled.

Step 4: Pack the Jars. Divide your peppers and start stuffing the jars with them. I use  1 quart jars but any size will work. Once all the vegetables are packed in as far as they will go, fill the jars with the boiling pickling liquid. Leave 1/2 an inch of air at the top of the jar and let the liquid settle down into the peppers. Fill them up as needed, but you want a final 1 inch space at the top in the end. If you put garlic in the liquid, make sure there is one per jar in the end. Add salt, pepper, or hot pepper flakes sprinkled on top if you like. I would add 1/4 tsp of salt per quart jar.

Step 5: Put the Lids On. Use a magnetic canning stick or a very clean towel and twist the jar lids on. Cleanliness is key here so try not to touch any part of the metal. Tighten the lids snugly, but make sure not to over tighten them at this point.

Step 6: Can the Jars. This is the most important step and one  that you cannot skip. Put the jars in the big canning pot and cover them with water. There should be about an inch of water over the top of the jars so the water can freely circulate around them. Boil the jars for 15 minutes. This time changes based on altitude and jar size, so google for a canning time calculator before you start.

Step 7: Cool the Jars. Use a rubber grip and carefully remove the jars from the pot. Put them out to cool overnight in a safe place. You know the canning worked if the lids get sucked down and seal air tight. All night you should hear popping as this occurs. The next day you should check each jar to make sure they are fully sealed. Push down in the middle of the lid and if it pops down then it is not sealed. It should be pushed fully down and unmovable. Tighten the rings on the jars that sealed properly and store for later. If your jars do not seal, try re-canning them with freshly sterilized rings.

Step 8: Wait and Enjoy! Store your new preserves in a cool dark place such as the back of a cupboard or in a cellar. Wait at least a week to try your new pickles. If the water goes cloudy or it smells funny when you open it, toss the jar out. You don’t want to be sick from improper canning. Your pickles should last a year if done properly, but some of mine have lasted much longer. Enjoy!

Angela Nightingale

If you want to know the best cupcake shop in any major city in America, just ask Angela. This girl knows her sweets, and she isn't shy about letting you know that your german chocolate cake needs more chocolate. If you want to find Angela on any given day, she's probably looking up reviews to decide where to grab lunch, or in her downtime, binge-watching the latest 'it-series' on Netflix.

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