Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pickling your own Jalapeno Peppers

© 2011 by Tom King
Recipe Courtesy of Texas A&M Horticulture Agri-Life Extension: Peppers

What could be cooler than whipping out a Mason jar full of your own home-made jalapenos next time you’re having nachos at the house?  It’s not hard to do with the proper preparation.  You can buy raw jalapenos at the grocery store or you can grow your own. If you get good at growing them, you can even adjust the way you water and fertilize your peppers and vary the times when you harvest them to alter the flavor and hotness to create you own custom jalapeno peppers.
Capsaicin is the chemical in peppers that gives the pepper heat. Capsaicin has no taste or smell, so if flavor is all you’re after, growing a mild pepper will not affect the taste in the least. The hotness of jalapenos is mostly about macho posturing anyway. I have a hard time believing that having a numb tongue after you eat anything is truly a pleasurable experience.
At any rate, the typical chili pepper usually contains more capsaicin at the top of the pepper than at the bottom. Slices taken near the stem are generally very hot.  Near the middle the pepper slices will be about medium and near the lower tip they’ll be relatively mild – all on the same pepper.
If you’d like to make separate jars of hot and mild peppers, you can always cut the jalapenos in two and bottle the tops and bottoms separately.  Don’t forget to label them as some folk react rather badly to fiery hot jalapenos when you told them they were "really mild". Remember, you’ll be in a kitchen with all sorts of sharp knives and heavy blunt objects, so make sure the jars are labeled correctly.

Here’s how Texas A&M recommends pickling your peck of pickled peppers.
1.  Pick a peck of unpickled peppers - jalapeno type

2.  Using fresh Jalapeno peppers, blanch the peppers for 3 minutes in boiling water. To prevent collapsing, puncture each pepper or cut them in half first and separate the hotter top section from the milder lower half. Slice the blanched peppers and pack a pint jar with them and the ingredients below before cooling occurs.

  • 1/4 medium-sized garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion flakes
  • 1 small or medium bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon of thyme leaf (not seed)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (olive, refined sesame, corn)  
3.  Create a brine solution as follows:
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 9 tablespoons salt
  • 2 pints water
  • 2 pints vinegar (5 percent)
4.  Mix ingredients together and pour into your jars over the top of the peppers and spices. The jalapenos must be hot when the brine solution is added. The addition of carrot slices adds color to the product. If you’re a guy, don’t tell anyone you added the carrots for color. It sounds kind of girly. Make up something like, “It's an old range cook's trick I learned. The carrots absorb the bitter aftertaste left by the bay leaves.”  Stick to something plausible and manly like that. Jalapenos are enough of a guy thing to get you past the part where you're canning stuff like your grandmother, but not if you start adding junk to make the food colorful. 

5.  Close the containers and set them for 10 minutes in boiling water, screw on the lids, then cool the jars. As the jars cool, a partial vacuum will be created inside, sealing the jars. When cool they can be stored in the pantry unrefrigerated. Refrigerate your peppers after the jar is initially opened.

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