Pepper preservation

All sorts of spicy goodness await

This year was a difficult one for peppers. Of course that is all my fault. Normally this year would have been perfect for all my peppers. I did have a phenomenal jalapeno crop. I had enough success with the late cayenne plants to dry a few peppers, but I did not have enough to freeze for the winter. Normally, I freeze enough to last well into the next pepper season. Therefore I decided to pickle a large amount of jalapenos to supplement the cayenne. Since I planned to use them for cooking the recipe is very simple. Below I will also talk about the other two ways to preserve hot peppers as well.

Pickling

Most of the time folks like to add different flavors and spices to any type of pickled vegetable to create a tasty snack. This recipe is far simpler due to the fact I wanted to be able to cook with the finished product. That does not mean they don’t make excellent snacks or cocktail garnishes as well. To pack these I used my basic canning method and then steamed the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes to finish the pickles. I did not bother adding pickle crisp because these were for the pantry, but if they are to be eaten primarily as a snack I would suggest adding one teaspoon per jar to keep them from getting soggy. Or follow my canning method exactly and skip the steam bath after. Remember that the fresher the pepper the better the pickle.

  • 2 lbs jalapenos (about 20-25 medium sized)
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tbsp kosher sea salt or pickling salt

Wash and dry peppers. Discard any that are bad or bruised. Cut 4 to 6 long slits lengthwise in each. This will keep the peppers from exploding once the hot brine is added. Combine brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Meanwhile sterilize 4-5 12-ounce canning jars. Pack jalapenos into jars leaving at least 1/4″ space at top. Fill with hot brine and seal. Steam in boiling water for 10 minutes then set out to cool. Any jars that do not seal, place in the refrigerator to use first. Wait at least two weeks before eating any.

Drying

So shriveled up I think they need a blanket

Drying is the best way to preserve the most amount of heat in a pepper, but it can be tricky. When it comes to drying cayenne peppers I have great success just placing them on a rack in a dry spot out of direct sunlight and waiting about a month. Other larger peppers require time in an oven or dehydrator to keep them from molding. I have yet to dry a jalapeno out successfully but have had success with pablanos in an oven on really low heat (140 degrees) with the door slightly ajar for quite a few hours. After the peppers dry I then grind some into powder while leaving others whole to reconstitute in water when cooking.

Freezing

This is the best way to quickly preserve hot peppers for cooking. They will be too mushy to use in pico or chopped up fresh but alas we cannot all live in California where vegetables grow fresh all year round. The trick to freezing peppers is to boil them for about 1 minute then allow them to cool before freezing. The quick boil causes the pepper to collapse and freeze faster and actually locks in more of the spice. When you are ready to cook just pull a few out of the freezer ( I store them in a one-gallon ziplock bag which holds around 60-80) and chop them up. The freezing process does lose some heat so you may need to double the amount of peppers used in any given recipe.

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About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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49 Responses to Pepper preservation

  1. Kristy says:

    I would love to see a shot of your pantry with all this canned goodness. You guys will be eating well this winter! You are a canning machine. Far braver than I, that’s for certain.

  2. Zo Zhou says:

    Hehe our shriveled chillis are still sitting on the windowsill! Thankfully it’s really dry where we are so we’ve just kind of left them there and I pick one up when I want it. I’m considering pickling some but they’re all red at the moment (Thai chillis).

  3. crustabakes says:

    Your kitchen is HOT. literally!

  4. I wish I had a garden sometimes, because I could make a variety of fresh things. and your peppers look great. Now I’ve learned hot to freeze peppers properly :)

  5. Charles says:

    Seconding Kristy’s request! Gief pantry photos! (Almost wrote “gief panty photos”, lol). Really want to get into this sort of thing once I have my own yard one day.

  6. niasunset says:

    Wonderful. I love them. Thank you dear Rufus, with my love, nia

  7. Seems like our kitchens are working in the same way at the moment – I have peppers drying and freezing too with cans in the “despensa” (pantry!). Hope they all taste wonderful… :)

  8. great, what a brilliant way to store your produce, I’ve never tried this but it looks fairly easy so I might give it a go. I am not sure what the ‘crisp’ product is, but it doesn’t sound like we would need it for this anyway. Enjoy your peppers all winter.

  9. Sissi says:

    I have been pickling sweet peepers for a long time, but this year I started to do the same with hot peppers. While I add many aromatic spices to the sweet ones, I noticed the hot peppers don’t need very aromatic seasonings (either it tastes weird or they absorb the flavours anyway) and I have also noticed they tend to mellow throughout the months. Are your peppers less hot after several months too?
    I have never seen “pickle crisp”, it sounds very mysterious… I will have to check if it exists in Europe too.
    It sounds silly, but only thanks to your post I have just realised I have to freeze the hot peppers I get from my very kind Hungarian friend, when she comes back from her home country… I use them cooked most of the time anyway. Thanks for the idea and for the boiling tip!

  10. Hint: You’ll get less ‘float’ on your pickles if you switch to regular-mouth jars. The ‘shoulders’ help hold them under the brine.
    (I just learned this myself, and thought I’d pass it along…)
    Enjoy your pepper harvest, for as long as you “can”!

  11. Wow! This is amazing. I got some tiny little peppers today from a friend’s garden… was pondering about what I should do with them all! Thanks for this post, perfect timing! :)

  12. I love the “float”…it creates a beautiful, ethereal looks to the canned jalapenos…great idea to pickle those little hot babies!

  13. Carolyn Chan says:

    They look so gorgeous in those jars. Bet they’d be delicious.

  14. I made some hot pepper sauce similar to this just last week.. it was now or never because they needed a pickin! This looks amazing though and I will take 3 jars please:)

  15. spicegirlfla says:

    I learn so much from you two!! You’re a real farm boy there Greg with all this gardening and preserving!! I’ll go for the freezing method (i.e., easy) but I’m soo impressed as always with all you do! p.s. love, love, love the blanket caption!!

  16. We never have many peppers – perhaps we need a lesson from you! Great post! I love the ‘how to’s

  17. egg me on says:

    Great instructional post! Very informative. I’m bummed I didn’t pickle anything myself this summer. Maybe you’ve inspired me!

  18. Jessica says:

    This is uncharted territory for me! Thanks for all of the great info…maybe someday l’ll try pickling something!

  19. ChgoJohn says:

    Great how-to post. I don’t grow peppers and any that Lucy eats have to be as fresh as possible so I currently haven’t a need for preserving them. Still, the idea of pickling peppers interests me and when I decide to give it a try, I know where to come for the needed info. Thanks.

  20. HI Greg, I planted one jalapeno plant this year and it yielded just enough for the summer (I have one left, I’m kinda saving it for something special!). Next year, I will plant more and come back to this post. I am intrigued by the pickled peppers, very tasty sounding and looking!

  21. ceciliag says:

    You’re on, i have piles of peppers out there just waiting for me to pick a pack of pickled peppers!! or something! c

  22. I’ve never tried pickling them and I have loads as you know. Maybe I’ll try with the scotch bonnets as I have no more room in the freezer! Btw I freeze mine without boiling and they are perfect, I chop them semi frozen (semi freddo?) and they don’t go soggy. I’m thinking baout a chilli semifreddo now, I need to get out more!!

  23. Caroline says:

    I’m cracking up at the comments above. Risque pantry? Never heard of one before, but ya never know! I’m sure there’s lots of roosters in there or something. These peppers are going to be delicious. Great tips for pickling, drying AND freezing!

  24. JamieAnne says:

    Your basic canning method is very similar to mine.

    These look great!

  25. ambrosiana says:

    I have never done this! This looks awesome!! I going to get some peppers!!!!

  26. Hey, Rufus! I’m back, and if not kicking, at least twitching feebly. I’ll be blogging again, from tomorrow. The worst of it all, though, is that I have too, too much of everyone else’s stuff to catch up on!

    With regard to peppers – or just ‘chillies’ as we call them in Australia – I simply dice mine up and stuff them in a jar, and cover them with olive oil. As long as there’s enough oil to cover them, mould isn’t usually a problem – and it’s a pretty daring mould that’ll try and grow on them, anyway.

    I also find it great to use just a spoonful of the chilli-infused oil when I’m frying something, to give it a nice, subtle touch of heat.

    Thanks for the birthday text, too, btw!

  27. What a great informative post. We love peppers, 3/4 of my garden was peppers but unfortunatley my crop this year didn’t yeild many. I love roasted peppers, I freeze the extra’s for future use. My dad dries pepper, omg the other day half of his garage was filled with hanging peppers! I have to take a picture of it….

  28. Amy says:

    Mmm, pickled peppers! These are one of my faves!!!

  29. That was really useful information. Thank you for sharing!

  30. My green peppers were horrible this year. My girls love pickled peppers.

  31. ....RaeDi says:

    Nice blog, and I have a recipe for just plain jalapenos… been wanting one! You are full of skill in the kitchen….RaeDi

  32. Stef says:

    I love the caption on your drying photo; you two crack me up. :)

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