Canning Peppers!

I put my new canning kit to work last night with Kari and Amy in our first brave journey into home food preservation. I use jalapenos and banana peppers a lot when I cook, so I decided I better "put up" some jars for the winter months.

I picked up one tray of jalapenos and two trays of banana peppers from the farmers market and washed them

It takes a while to prep the jars if putting them through the dishwasher (hot soapy water works too), so rock that out ASAP

The other part of sanitizing the jars is to put the lids in a pot to simmer

Then the putzy and possibly painful part if you forget to wear gloves: prepping the peppers (I didn't even try for the alliteration there). I cut each top like it was a pumpkin and stuck the knife in there to dislodge most of the seeds (I like tolerable spiciness, more seeds = more spicy). Then I sliced them into the rings.

Meanwhile, get the huge water bath canner boiling and make the pickling brine too. Since the water bath pot is crazy huge, I straddled it over 2 burners

PICKLING BRINE: I used 6 cups of white vinegar (5%) and 2 cups of filtered water (I'd make a cup or two more of the mixture next time...this was just barely enough). I crushed 4 cloves of garlic, tossed them in there and brought it all to a boil in a big pot for 5 minutes. After boiling, I killed the heat and skimmed the garlic out. (This recipe is an adaptation/conglomeration/merging of several I saw in the interweb as well as from the Ball Blue Book of Canning (ha, I always think 'blue balls').

Jar packing! We "raw-packed" the pepper rings into the hot, clean jars. Here's what we got: 2 pints of jalapenos, 4 pints + 1 8oz jars of banana peppers. Leave 1/4" "headspace" at the top.

I put 1/2 teaspoon of canning salt (apparently it might ok to use other salts, but it'll look gross b/c of iodide, anti caking agents etc) in each of the jars (1/4 in the 8 oz-er), and poured the brine in each of the jars to cover the pepper rings (use a metal ladle or glass measuring cup).

De-bubbling the jars! Stick a chopstick in there and tap the jars on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles in the mixture.

Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth, put a sanitized lid on, and screw the ring onto the jar (but not too tight).

Put the jars into the jar rack and lower them into the boiling water bath, cover the giant pot, and "process" for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes in the boiling water bath, pull the jar rack out using pot holders, use a jar grabber and put the processed jars on a towel to cool over night (I put a cookie sheet under there too in case the jars were too hot for my counter top). Within 10-15 minutes or so, the lids start "pinging" from being sealed up. That sound made me stupidly excited.

In the morning, I checked the lids to make sure they vacuum-sealed (press down on the lid - it should be tight & concave) and labeled them with the contents and canning date. I put the sticker on the lid because those have to be thrown out after using them (the sealing agent is a one-time only deal; of course the rings can be re-used). This stuff should be eaten within a year or so (but not before 2-4 weeks b/c they have to sit and pickle), and since I'm skeered of botulism, I might get some ph testing strips to make sure these suckers are properly acidic...that may be a very unnecessary step.

This is my new screen saver on my phone..