Have an excess of fresh hot peppers sitting in your kitchen? Canning them is a terrific way to extend their lifecycle so that you can enjoy the heat year-round. Canned hot peppers have the same chili heat burst with a terrific tangy pickle taste which makes them terrific on salads, pizzas, and sandwiches. Or you can just munch on them as a spicy snack any time a craving hits.
Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to can hot peppers. It’ll get you started with the basics. But if you’re interested in canning and preserving chilies, we highly recommend picking up a book on the subject. There’s much to the art and it’s worth exploring it fully.
Step 1: Choose the right peppers for canning.
When choosing the chilies to can, choose those that are firm and blemish free. Rotting, soft or bruised peppers will not make good canned peppers. Striation marks on the chili are fine. These often occur as a chili ages to maturity, becoming plumper and stretching the skin.
Step 2: Cook a solution that you will use to soak the peppers.
Peppers are usually preserved in vinegar, salt water, or a mixture of both along with other spices. Here’s a simple recipe to begin:
- Put five cups of vinegar, two tablespoons of salt, two tablespoons of sugar, and one tablespoon of garlic powder, and mix it all together in a pot over high heat.
- Allow the mix to boil. Once it does, you can turn the fire off and remove the pot from the heat.
Step 3: Cut two slits along the sides of the chilies.
This is done in order to prevent the peppers from absorbing too much liquid, becoming swollen and mushy over time.
Step 4: Place your peppers into coverable glass canning jars and add the liquid from step 2.
Pour the solution from the pot into the jars until close to the brim. Take a butter knife and poke it along the sides of the jar to release excess air bubbles. Seal the cans well with a metal cover.
Step 5: Put the bottles into a canner.
It is important not to skip this step because a canner sterilizes the bottle to prevent bacteria from forming during months of sitting. Follow the instructions that come with your canner, but to understand the ease, here’s a typical process:
- Make sure the canner rack is inside of the canner, then fill the canner halfway full with water and pre-heat.
- Using a jar lifter, place the well-sealed jars of hot peppers onto the canner rack. Make sure the water is at least an inch above the jars.
- Cover the canner and adjust the heat to high to bring the water to a boil. Follow the instructions for total boiling time provided with your canner. It’s important for food safety to follow the timing to a tee.
- Once boiling is complete, remove the canner lid and let the liquid settle for five minutes.
- Using the jar lifter, remove the jars from the canner and place them onto a cooling rack or towel to cool. Let the jars cool untouched for 12 to 24 hours.
For best flavor, allow the canned peppers to sit for two or three weeks so that they fully absorb the canning liquid. Lastly, once you open a jar, be sure to refrigerate it. A jar you’ve canned is just like any sealed jar you’d get from the store. It’s a must to refrigerate them after opening to keep the chilies for as long as possible.