Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pickled hot peppers

Just finished a batch of pickled hot peppers -- jalapenos and cherry hots.

I did them with a sweet pickling brine, much like one used for bread and butter pickles.  These will be great on sandwiches, or in a batch of pimento cheese.

Cut up about two pounds of mixed hot peppers.  I used jalapenos, and green and red cherry hots.  Salt them liberally, cover them, and let them sit in the fridge overnight -- about 16 hours.  N.B.  You MUST use rubber gloves when handling this much fruit.  Be careful not to rub your eyes or nose while you're doing this, or you will regret it. 

Drain the brined peppers and rinse them very well under cold, running water.  The ample salt needs to be rinsed off.  Don't worry that you'll be un-salting the peppers -- there will still be plenty absorbed into the peppers. 

Make a brine of equal parts sugar and vinegar.  (I used 5 cups each, so that I'd be sure to have enough pickling liquid.   Add a tablespoon each of peppercorns and mustard seed.

Bring to a boil, then add the raw peppers.  Bring this just back to the boil.  Then cover and get ready to fill your clean jars. 

While your pickling liquid (I hesitate to call it a brine, as there's no salt in it...) is coming to the boil, put on a large pot of water in which you'll eventually process your filled jars.

Sterilize your jars, lids, and bands.  You can boil them, or put them in a hot (375°F) oven for 15-20 minutes.  I ovened the jars and bands, and boiled the lids very gently.

I encourage all readers of Six Degrees of Preparation to consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation, out of the University of Georgia, for details on pickling.  Excellent resource. 

Ladle the peppers into the jars using your canning funnel to keep things neat.  Then ladle pickling liquid to fill to the 1/4-inch mark (that is, the bottom of the canning funnel, conveniently calibrated to that measurement).

Run a knife around the inside of each jar to be sure there are no large air bubbles.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel, put on the sterile lids, lightly screw on the bands, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

After processing, remove to a clean, dry towel, and wait for the lids to pop.  They should do so quickly.  If not, you can try to reprocess any that haven't popped, or just use those jars right away and store in the fridge.  Keep in mind that this is a potent pickling liquid -- sugar and vinegar -- and the likelihood of anything growing in this medium is remote.  

Let stand at room temperature until well cooled.  Even though these are "put up," I still store them in my basement refrigerator.

Store opened jars in the fridge.