Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pickled Cherry Peppers

Since it is way to hot to work outside today and enough cherry peppers had turned bright red to justify a canning effort that is just what I did, as you can see. I haven't shared many pictures of the canning and preserving efforts this year so I thought I would this time since they are so pretty all packed in their little jars. While these are all cherry peppers you can pickle any pepper and the recipe below will work for any of them. No real special equipment other than the jars and a pot big enough to process them in and it really takes no time at all to preserve a little summer sunshine. I would suggest getting a 'jar lifter' so you can handle the jars going into and out of the boiling water. I tend to prefer thick walled peppers for pickling as they hold up to the processing a little better and the cherry peppers fit the bill perfectly.

Pickled Peppers

2 pounds Hungarian or banana peppers*
2 pounds sweet peppers (in strips)*
1 pound cherry peppers*
1 Jalapeno per jar (optional but nice for a little kick)
1 clove garlic per jar
6 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
4-5 whole black peppercorns per jar (optional)
1-2 whole allspice per jar (optional)

*Note: You can use a variety of peppers to equal 5 pounds (4 quarts) but small peppers like the cherry pepper are not very easy to densely pack so I have found that about 3 pounds of cherry peppers will satisfy this recipe. It helps to sort the cherry peppers into two piles of big and small. When you are packing the jars you can fill in with small peppers where a big one won't fit and having them segregated makes it much easier. P.S. If you use the jalapeno don't forget to slit them as well.

Yield: Makes 7 to 8 pints

Get all your jars in the canning pot and heating while you process the peppers. In a separate pot cover the lids and rings with water and get them heating as well but you should not boil them as with the jars. I like wide mouth jars as they are easier to pack but regular jars will work just fine as well. In another non reactive pot get your vinegar/water solution mixed and heating. Another preliminary step is to peel the garlic and get your spices all sorted out and ready to go. Having everything organized before you begin makes for a quick and painless process.

Wash peppers. Small peppers may be left whole with two small slits in each pepper. Core and cut large peppers into strips. Pack one clove garlic and a variety of peppers tightly into clean, hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Pour hot pickling solution over peppers, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and insure the peppers are filled with the vinegar solution by pressing down gently and a table knife slid down the inside of the jar and pressed on the peppers helps as well. Re-adjust head space to 1/4 inch. Wipe jar rims. Seal with canning lids and process in boiling water bath. If your altitude is below 6,000 feet then process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15. Above 6,000 feet you need to add 5 minutes to the processing time. Start your timing after the water bath comes back to a slow boil and adjust the heat as necessary to keep it at a slow boil. Keeping a cover on the canner helps a lot to control the temperature and bring it to a boil a lot faster. After the jars are removed from the water bath and cool completely check to insure all have properly sealed and remove the screw rings for storage. These are going to have their full flavor in about five to six weeks.

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