Sunday, June 29, 2014

How to Pickle Jalapenos

The Replacements
It's time to start looking for an easy way to fill up the empty rack space we created on Friday.  Perhaps a few jars of peppers could do the trick...

Though I loved the old peppers, I was never really happy with their consistency. Because I had gone with a canning recipe rather than a pickling one, the taste was great, but they were a bit mushy.  The short reason is that, when you can something you're relying on heat to kill the bacteria. But heat also breaks down veggies like peppers pretty quickly.  They don't turn to mush, but they don't retain any kind of crunch, either.

When you pickle something, you're relying on acidity to do the same job.  So I picked out a pickling recipe from The Food Network.  Let's see how that turned out.

Look, Ma, no gloves.
The first thing we need to do with this recipe is to utterly ignore the total preparation time. 25 hours? Ain't nobody got time for that.  We're going to do it all in about half an hour.

Here's what we need:

Jalapenos.  That might be important.  The recipe calls for one pound, sliced.  That's going to make a pretty small batch - about a quart - but we'll do it by the book this time and modify it in the future.  I usually don't like to break out the canner for anything less than 6 pints. Anyway, slice 'em up.

Salt. 2 tbsp of pickling salt or 4 tbsp of kosher salt.  I know nothing about kosher, so pickling salt it is.

Garlic, 2 cloves.  I've got some left over from my earlier attempts to plant garlic.*  The Wal Mart 'planting' garlic looks like crap, so I threw most of it in the trash into the mulch bucket and just used some of the leftover 'organic' garlic.  The recipe didn't say to slice or dice, so I threw them in whole.

Whole black peppercorns, 1 tbsp, optional. I used them.

Honey, 1 tbsp, optional.  I used it.

Water (2 cups) and vinegar (2 cups).  Combined with the salt, this is going to make a challenging environment for our friendly neighborhood bacteria.  So let's combine them.  In fact, throw everything into the brine except the peppers and bring it to a good boil. Then back the heat off to a simmer.

The small one goes into the fridge.
Make sure you have your jars, lids, and canner ready, because this next part is going to happen fast.

Drop the peppers into the brine, stir it up, and bring it back to a boil.

As soon as it boils, ladle it into hot jars, fasten the lids, and drop them into the canner for a nice 5-minute bubble bath rolling boil. Pull them out and you're done.

So what about it?  Well, despite the fact that this was deemed an 'intermediate' recipe, the hardest thing about it was making sure to get one clove of garlic in each jar.  In other words, it's simple.

Secondly, since I had a little left over, I got a chance to check the taste and consistency right away - both are very good compared to the old peppers.  While not 'pickle' crunchy, the peppers have some body.**  The peppercorns and garlic add a lot to the flavor.  I can't taste the honey at all.  

So I'd have to say that overall this recipe looks like a success. There also appears to be nothing in it that would keep you from doubling or quadrupling it for larger batches. And larger batches are what's on the way by the looks of the pepper bed.

* which are now a rousing success, I might add.
** The ones actually canned may have less, however, as they were cooked longer.

1 comment:

  1. Saving this page for teh futiar(tm). Minus the honey, just in case. And, actually, this might be right along the way to make crisp pickles. My mother sometimes canned, sometimes pickled, depending on factors I never did know or could figure. Pickled was far better. The only thing I want to figure out is what those little bits are in some pickling juices. Like tiny onions, or really small garlic. But when drinking the juice, I liked having crunchy little nibblets like that. I am sure nibblets would be good in anything pickled. Save maybe eggs.

    I might have to buy produce for it this fall, but I am hoping to break my canner out for the first time and start learning. I'm almost hoping that will pull me deeper into gardening. Thanks for the notion.

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