Can Jam – October Edition: Chili Peppers!

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It’s Can Jam time again! Kaela at Local Kitchen revealed October’s key ingredient: chili peppers. A winner!

october can jam chili peppers at grow and resistThe peppers I used for the Sassy Lemon: A Red Fiery Pickle (you’ll read about them later this week!)

As part of an eastern Washington produce bulk buy organized by Annette, I ordered 15 pounds of hot peppers. Yep, 15 pounds. That is a hell of a lot of hot. Ten pounds were jalapeños and the other 5 were miscellaneous hot peppers – cayenne, habanero and the like.

The Great Produce Hook Up

Let’s take a step back to produce pick up day. Imagine the scene: A rainy Seattle afternoon at a nondescript church room with mountains of tomatoes, peppers, garlic and eggplant. People milling about weighing their goods and making small talk. A seemingly nice start right?

But no. The Babylady and I arrived her desperately needing a nap and me with a messed up back. I wanted to weigh all the produce I ordered, settle my bill and skedaddle. She was far more interested in running from box to box and fondling all the produce. This, I suppose, wouldn’t be the worst thing ever… if she weren’t also into throwing &/or biting things. Mainly other people’s produce. So, I was moving with distracted speed to try to just.get.the.hell.out.of.there.stat. You know, before I told lost my mind. Once I gathered, weighed all the goods and paid a few checks I had had enough. Anyone who has ever hung out with a 2-3 year old gets that right? Right?!

So, I opted to leave her in the car 70’s style while I loaded the bulging bags into the car. (No, don’t call CPS… it was a cool & rainy day, I parked right out front and I locked the doors in between loads. And she was secured in her car seat. No lectures needed. Thanks.)

Loading up the car I finally realized that 15 pounds of hot peppers was perhaps a tad over-zealous.

Processing Time (or, Glove up babes!)

Not discouraged, I set about my processing ways. I had just started a course of steroids (prednisone) for a little herniated disc. If you not been around anyone on prednisone, the short story is while on high doses you don’t sleep and you have ridiculous amounts of energy. So while the disc thing was (& is) a bummer, the steroids were well-timed. Ah, the silver lining…

A few important tidbits for processing your peppers:

  • Gloves. Wear gloves. Wear gloves. Wear gloves. Really. Wear Gloves. I have dedicated Pepper Gloves (regular ol’ dishwashing gloves).
  • Open your windows. Put on a fan. Or borrow a respirator. I’m kidding. Sort of. The pepper-vinegar fumes cooking double me over in fits of uncontrolled hacking – especially doing pepper jelly. I washed my hands – don’t worry.
  • Determine your heat tolerance or desire. Seed your peppers to cut some of the heat. Leave them in to bring it up a notch (or 12.)  An easy way to seed them is to cut off stem, slice in half and just sort of wipe out the seeds, under running water, with your gloved hand. Gloved hand, remember?

I will tell you about all the peppers I processed this week but let’s start with the October Can Jam entry. I slightly adapted recipe from Linda Ziedrich‘s The Joy of Pickling (a book you should totally buy, if you haven’t already) by adding a bit more honey and garlic:

Honeyed (Garlic) Jalapeno Rings

Yield: 8 half-pints

  • 24 whole black peppercorns
  • 10 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 TBSP pickling spices
  • 1 quart cider vinegar
  • 4 TBSP honey
  • 2 tsp pickling salt
  • 2 ¼ pounds jalapeño peppers, cut into thin rings (I aimed to make them less that ¼-inch, but they varied)
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  1. Divide peppercorns and garlic between 8 half-pint jars.
  2. Wrap spices up in cheesecloth and tie to close (or use a spice bag… which I still don’t have for some unknown reason) and put into saucepan with vinegar, honey and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the peppers and bring to a simmer.
  3. Divide peppers between jars then pour hot vinegar mix over. Leave ½-inch headspace. Discard cheesecloth/spice bag.
  4. Pour 1 ½ tsp olive oil into each jar and close two-piece caps. Process jars for 10 minutes in hot water bath.
  5. Allow flavors to mingle for 3 weeks before eating.

I did a double batch resulting in 14 half-pints and a big jar I didn’t process and put in the fridge.

october can jam chili pepper at grow and resistLook at all that sweet hotness!

Verdict: YUM. Hot. Pickle-y. Hint of sweetness. You can taste both the garlic and honey. I put them on a takeout Báhn Mì sandwich the other day and it was fantastic! I’ll be adding them to anything and everything that needs a bit of a kick.

So, if you are doing a countdown I am down 4 ½ pounds of peppers. Only 11 ½ pounds to go.

Come back the next few days for Jalapeno Jelly and a fumbly-bumbly (but ultimately awesome!) pickle that I’m calling Sassy Lemon:  A Red Fiery Pickle.

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