Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pickled hot peppers

I've been wanting to find an alternative to the canned peppers I use so often in recipes.  You know those little cans of Chopped Chile Peppers in the Mexican food section at the supermarket -- no indication of what kind of chiles they are.  They're just chopped chiles.  They're called for in a gazillion Tex-Mex and southwestern-style recipes, and I'd like not to rely so heavily on a commercially-canned product.  I figure eliminating them will be a good step in un-UPCing my pantry.  

The only problem:  peppers are a low-acid food.  They can't be canned in a boiling water bath but instead must be pressure canned.  I've never pressure-canned anything and don't own a pressure canner.  I'm planning to borrow one from my friend Dave, but until then I decided to see if pickled peppers would work as a possible substitute in any of these recipes.  Of course to find out, I had to pickle some peppers.

I bought some beautiful hot banana peppers from R&J Veggies from Fayetteville, OH at Hyde Park Farmers' Market.

IMPORTANT HINT:  I strongly recommend wearing gloves when prepping quantities of hot peppers.  The oils penetrate your skin and can't be washed off completely.  In general it's a good idea to skin all but the thinnest-skinned peppers before canning them, as the skins can turn very tough.  So after I'd chopped off the tops, halved them lengthwise, and scraped out the seeds, I turned them skin side up on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broiled them until their skins puffed up and turned brown.  Then I pulled the skins off under cold water.

Then I chopped them into medium dice, packed them into hot jars, filled the jars with my hot pickling brine, and processed.


Makes four 4-oz jars

2 1/2 c vinegar

1/2 c water

2 t kosher salt

1 T sugar

2 pounds hot banana peppers, skins removed, chopped into medium dice

Bring vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil.  Boil five minutes then reduce heat to a simmer.  Pack peppers into hot jars.  Ladle hot syrup into jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid and wait five minutes before removing jars from kettle.

I'm going to wait a month or so to allow these to develop, then see if they can be used in recipes without changing the flavor of the finished recipe too profoundly.  I'll report back!  And in the meantime: pressure canning.  Pray for me.


Kale for Sale said...

I've been talking about pickled peppers for the last two weeks and here you are with a recipe. Thank you. I've got a crop of serranos on the back deck, thin skinned so I won't have to peel them and hopefully hot.

I bought pickled peppers at the farmers' market this last year when fresh were long gone and we ate them on everything and then they were sold out. This year I plan on being prepared.

Best of luck on the pressue canning and yes, please post about it. I've never done it either.

Anonymous said...

I hope these turn out for you! Are you liking the Joy of Pickling?

valereee said...

kale for sale, did you try using them in recipes at all? How cool that you can find pickled peppers at the fm!

That recipe came from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I was looking for a recipe that would impart no additional flavors to the pepeprs. I actually recently found another recipe I'd like to try -- it calls for honey and pickling spice.

Jen, I do like Joy of Pickling! The recipe I want to try next comes from that book -- Honeyed Jalapeno Pepper Rings. There's a similar recipe on the NCHFP site but it calls for pickling lime, which I don't have and am not sure I've ever seen anywhere. I may have to go looking for it.

Kale for Sale said...

I didn't use them with recipes but only because I rarely use a recipe. Mostly I mixed them with fried rice, scrambled them with eggs, added them to soup and pots of beans. They were great.

Anonymous said...

You might check your local hardware store, or if there is one, a farm supply store for pickling lime. It's also known as slaked lime and hydrated lime

valereee said...

Darn! And I was just in a hardware store this morning!

Anonymous said...

one more thing -- I wonder if pasteurization of low acid foods would work rather than pressure canning?

valereee said...

Jen, funny you should ask! I'm reading a book right now (Blue Ribbon Preserves, Linda Amendt) that calls for pasteurization of many pickles. I'm not sure she's a completely safe source of recipes, though.

The pasteurization process is a bit daunting. You have to hold the kettle at between 180 and 185 for 30 minutes. Short of babysitting it, I can't think how you'd manage that.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that doing it in the oven is fairly fool-proof

valereee said...

Jen, I was wondering about that, too! Set the pot into a 185 oven with a thermometer in it. I actually have a thermometer that will sound an alarm if the temps go above or below a certain range (if I can remember how to set it!).

God, but that pot would be heavy. It would be a challenge to pull the rack out, put the jars into it, and then stick it back into the oven, and then the reverse. You'd almost need two people to keep from sloshing it.

Anonymous said...

This is great - I was just searching for some recipes on how to pickle peppers and found some, but none of them told me how long to wait before using, until I found yours! Thank you very much - your write up was also very valuable as I never pickled anything before.

Oh and great job on getting away from canned stuff - nothing substitutes naturally wholesome food!

valereee said...

Evita, let us know how your peppers turn out!

Anonymous said...

Hi Val, how did these work out? I am thinking of pickling some jalapenos this week. There are tons of them at the FM right now.

valereee said...

Audrey, I still haven't tried them yet! I really need to do that if I'm going to have any time left to put up any more peppers this year.