Friday, September 23, 2011

The End and the Beginning: Pickled Jalapeños with Garlic

This was supposed to start out with all the wonderful things to cook from a burgeoning garden, except, evidently, Mother Nature didn't want to cooperate. But I did sneak one in on her. Jalapeño peppers. Lots of them. Buckets. Killer hot, too.

After nearly 35 consecutive seasons of vegetable gardening and the resulting canning, freezing, smoking and just plain trying to give away the excess produce, for once I have almost nothing to show for it but jars of  Peach Jalapeño and Bourbon Jam, and jars of pickled Jalapeño Peppers with Garlic. For some reason only the Universe knows the damned jalapeño plants LOVE drought, flood and earthquakes. It's late in the season and they are STILL flowering and fruiting, while the tomatoes are dead. It might be the end of the garden, but it is always a good time to start.

Commercial family farms here on the East Coast have been hit by the rough weather so badly that really, I have no room to complain, but I was dreaming of tomato tarts from roasted Amish Paste Tomatoes and ground cherry jam on cold February days. But you know, nothing wrong with warming up the Winter with the bite of Pickled Jalapeño Peppers with Garlic, either.

Pickled Jalapeños with Garlic
Makes 4 pints

2 pounds fresh Jalapeño peppers, mix red & green if possible
4 large garlic cloves, minced
5 teaspoons of pickling salt
3 tablespoons sugar
5 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup water

  1. Wash 4 pint canning jars, with new lids and bands. Bring a water-bath canning kettle full of water to cover the jars by 1" to 2" to a simmer. Sterilize the jars and lids per the instructions from your canner.
  2. Cut the peppers into 1/4" inch slices, and mix in a bowl. Discard the stems. Be careful handling peppers; try to use tools, or put plastic bags over your hands to avoid contact with the hot stuff.
  3. Put the garlic, salt, sugar vinegar and water into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes or so.
  4. Tightly pack the peppers into the jars, but try not to crush them too much.
  5. Ladle in the vinegar mixture into each jar, filling to just under 1/4" from the top, carefully scooping in some of the garlic.
  6. Wipe the rims with a damp, clean paper towel, and place the lids and bands on, sealing just hand tightening.
  7. Place in the water bath canner, and bring to a boil, covered, and process for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the jars to a rack or a folded kitchen towel and do not disturb until completely cooled. Mark your jars with the date and contents, and try not to open for a few weeks. They should keep for a year or so, if you don't find lots of ways to scarf them down sooner.

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