It may seem way past the season for canning but if you have end-of-the-season peppers like I did, it’s a great time to put them up. And now I have my first entry ready for next year’s State Fair.
Pickled peppers can add a nice pop of color and taste to Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you have holiday guests who aren’t crazy about cranberry sauce. These peppers also make a festive appetizer if you chop them up and use them to top crackers and cream cheese.
Here’s my tried-and-true Pickled Pepper recipe. Some like to use cider vinegar instead of white, but I like to keep the brine clear so the color of the peppers comes through.
• 4 pounds sweet peppers (red, green or yellow)
• 2 pounds hot peppers (jalapeno, red tomato, banana)
• 6-1/2 cups white vinegar
• 1-1/3 cup water
• 2/3 cups sugar
• 4 tsp pickling salt
• 3 garlic cloves cut in quarters
1. Wash peppers. Remove the stems, membranes and seeds. Keep whole, but slice along the length of each pepper so the brine can penetrate easily.
2. Wash canning jars, lids and bands in warm soapy water. You’ll need six pint jars or 12 half-pints.
3. Fill a boiling-water canner about two-thirds full with water and put on high heat to bring it to a boil. Turn it down to simmer, and carefully put in your canning jars to sterilize them. Water should be at least 1 inch above jars. Bring a separate pot of water to boil that you can pour over the lids and bands in a bowl.
4. In a large sauce pan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and gently add your peppers and cook about one minute. Some canners put the peppers in the jars without this step, but I like to heat them through.
5. Remove the sterilized jars from the canner and gently layer peppers, making sure that each jar gets a nice mix of peppers and garlic. Pour the hot pickling brine over the peppers and leave 1/2-inch headspace. Run a sterilized stainless steel knife around the inside of each jar to remove any air bubbles. Use a clean, lint-free towel to wipe the jar rims. Put lids on the jars and adjust the bands.
6. Lift jars into water bath and bring canner back to a rolling boil. Process jars for 15 minutes if you are at sea level. Here in Boise, we are at nearly 3,000 feet, so I add three minutes. Rule of thumb is to add one minute for each 1,000 feet altitude. I always smile, thinking of it as an “altitude adjustment.” Remove the jars from the water bath and wait to hear that satisfying “ping” as each one seals.
For the end-of-the-season peppers, I’ve had good luck reducing the size of the recipe. Just make sure the proportion of product-to-brine is the same as for a full batch.
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