Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm back... pop, pop, pop!

I'm back and it's canning time!

Last year we had a bumper crop of jalapenos, so I tried making pickled jalapeno rings and jalapeno jelly. The jelly didn't go over so great (turned out fine, but we don't really eat that much sugary stuff around here), but the pickled jalapenos were a smash hit! A friend of ours, who's a connoisseur of all things hot and spicy, tasted one and exclaimed "WOW... these have terroir!" And they really do, I don't usually like taco bar pickled jalapenos, but these are quite tasty.

First things first, even if you're ultimately going to use another recipe, you'll want to check out the instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Rule #1 of canning, either read the Ball Blue Book, or NCHFP for the food you're planning to can. And do a quick review of the basics for hot water bath canning before you start.

That being said, I think their recipe is too fussy. I get firm pickled peppers without using pickling lime. I don't like using salt for a few reasons, partially it's healthier, but partially it's because these are often served alongside salty foods like nachos, carne asada and salsa and I think they're more refreshing unsalted.

Instead, I use a variation on this Pepper Fool recipe. It's pretty simple, herbs, peppers and vinegar. No need for anything fancy, full strength vinegar is acidic enough to take care of the Big Bad Botulism. I slice the jalapenos into rings, use sprigs of strong greek oregano straight from the garden, and double up the garlic. Terroir? Yeah, I think we've got that!

Today is actually my second round of jalapeno pickling this year... I did 5 half pints earlier in the season. Today I processed a full pound and a half (48 chiles) into 3 full pint jars! And believe it or not, we still have chiles on the plants!!! :-o What can I say? Chiles and eggplants just love our microclimate.

Jalapenos ready for slicing & pickling:

Canning set up, left side is my water bath canner, back right is a saucepan full of vinegar, front right is a saucepan of hot water for the lids:

Finished pints of peppers:

This little lady was pickled all by herself (like the oddities in science class). I didn't think such a modest girl would be comfortable mixing it up with the other hotties.

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