I came home from the farmers market Saturday with lots of peppers and there were even more yet to be picked in the garden. So I sat down with my canning cookbooks yesterday morning to come up with some ideas of what to do with all of them.
I made my list: Red Hot Sauce from the Ball Blue Book of Canning, Hot Pepper Jelly from The Art of Preserving, some roasted sweet peppers to freeze, some seeded whole sweet peppers to freeze, and some hot peppers hung to dry for pepper flakes.
Red Hot Sauce
The red hot sauce begins with tomatoes, which I also have in abundance so it was a good choice for me.
I scalded and peeled 12 big tomatoes then cut them into chunks, removing most of the seeds as I worked. These then went into a large pot. Next I seeded 24 hot peppers, tore them into big pieces and tossed them in too. I used a mix of Georgia Flame (hot) and Ralph Thompson Squash (medium hot) peppers.
This mixture gets cooked with 2 cups of vinegar until it’s soft then puréed with an immersion blender.
Mix in 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon salt.
Because the recipe came from Ball, they tell you to add Ball mixed pickling spice. I didn’t have any of that but I did have my own pickling spice so I used that – 2 tablespoons in a little spice bag (cheesecloth tied with twine). Toss the bag into the mix.
Let it simmer until it begins to thicken then add an additional 2 cups of vinegar. Continue to simmer until it reaches the consistency you like, stirring often, and it’s done. Fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
Hot Pepper Jelly
My candied jalapeños are very popular with men so I thought a hot pepper jelly might also be well-liked by that population.
It began with a mix of the same two types of hot peppers – 24 total. I took the seeds out and tossed the peppers into the food processor with two sweet onions. I also added 2 tablespoons celery seed and 1 cup apple cider vinegar. It got processed until finely minced.
The mixture went into a large pot next, to which I added 2 more cups cider vinegar, 10 cups sugar, and three packs of powdered fruit pectin. I brought it to a rolling boil, let it cook an additional minute and a half and then filled my little 4-ounce jars.
Rims wiped and bands applied, I processed the jars for 5 minutes in a hot water bath.
Dried Hot Peppers
My final two projects were freezing whole sweet peppers and stringing hot peppers to dry. The sweet peppers are fairly straight forward. I just cut the tops off and removed the seeds then packed them into a gallon bag and tossed them into the freezer.
For the hot peppers, I put gloves on (very important!) then tied a clothespin to the end of a thick piece of thread. I threaded a large needle on the other end and began with the larger peppers at the bottom. String them through the base of the stem and work your way up until your string is full or it’s getting too heavy. I tied a loop at the end to hang it from. Find a spot to hang them where they’ll get plenty of ventilation from all sides to help prevent them from molding.
So for now, I have worked my way through my peppers. At least until I go out to the garden to pick again. What’s your favorite pepper preservation recipe or method? Give me more ideas for my next harvest!