2017 will go down as a roller coaster of a growing season. I am embarrassed to say I wore snow boots in the garden on June 3rd this year because it was just under 40 degrees. May, June, and July were rough on our favorite heat-loving crops like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.
Of course those were basically all the vegetables (fruits?) I planted. I love my local farm’s CSA, and it keeps my family flush in all the greens and roots we can eat. This year, though, I wanted to can enough tomatoes to get us through the winter. Many local Vermont growers bemoaned the chilly, rainy weather we had, and I heard similar rumblings countrywide from those I follow on Instagram.
*Finally a ripe tomato* or *At last an eggplant flower*
I saw all this happening in the virtual world, but I was so focused on the task at hand, I hardly noticed. I undertook a huge hardscaping garden project this spring…summer…and fall. My partner was so over mowing the grass in between our raised beds (his gardening job), and I wanted more garden space. I came up with the most over-zealous way to solve that problem. Gravel. Lots of it. Numerous sketches later, I starting digging plants up and pulling beds apart in April.
With my partner’s help, I had a beautiful new manure-amended bed to plant starts in right after Memorial Day (our marker for surefire frost-free days in Vermont). I continued to toil away on the rest of the garden and, eventually, tomatoes ripened, eggplants fruited and peppers changed colors.
Around October 1st, my 80+ year-old native Vermont neighbor started cutting back her herbaceous perennials. I asked her why. She said she’s always started cleaning up her garden on October 1st.
“It looks like a frost might come next weekend,” she said.
The frost didn’t come. Not until November 8th. Surely a record?! I was grateful for the extra time in this weird growing season, but I had more peppers than we could ever survive to eat. Why had I bought two 6-packs of jalapeño starts? Anaheims maybe, but jalapeños? (Sidenote: anaheims are delicious.)
Don’t get me wrong, jalapeños are a crucial ingredient of many quick, easy, and tasty recipes. But I needed a recipe that would devour my glut of jalapeños. There’s no way to eat that many jalapeños…unless you pickle them!
Fresh Pickled and Canned Jalapeños Recipe
The capsaicin somehow gets tamed by vinegar
Dill seed and/or garlic cloves (optional)
This is a project that can easily be accomplished in the dark evenings after daylight savings time. But really time is irrelevant when it comes to preserving the harvest. I worked hard to grow this; it is not going to waste!
- Sterilize six jars…that will be enough, right?
- Pick your straggler peppers by headlamp because the frost is already settling on the low-lying strawberry patch.
- Sterilize twelve more jars…hopefully that will be enough.
- Fill your canning pot halfway with water and turn up the heat.
- Put on disposable nitrile gloves. Capsaicin is the chemical compound in hot peppers that gives it a skin-burning sensation. It is not messing around and neither should you!
- Slice jalapeños into hundreds of slices.
- Heat pickling brine. I used a 4:4:1 ratio of water, white vinegar, and granulated sugar. I also enjoy non-recipe recipes.
- Sterilize lids.
- Pack hot jars with sliced jalapeños. If you have a tendency to rub your eyes, and you like your eyesight, you should probably still have those gloves on.
- Sprinkle canning salt in each jar for crisp pickled jalapeños. Or not. Here’s also where you can add additional spices to different jars.
- Using a funnel, pour hot pickling brine into jars.
- Add jar rings, finger tight.
- For quart jars, water-bath can for at least 10 minutes at a rolling boil, I did it for 14 minutes for safety, and because I didn’t set a timer most of the time.
- Label jars before you go to bed, even though you’re tired.
My mom loves pickled jalapeños, and I’m bringing a couple jars to NJ for Thanksgiving dinner. I think they’ll go great on a leftover turkey, cheddar and cranberry sauce sandwich.
Kelsey Adams is a Gardener’s Supply Company customer with a postage stamp plot in Winooski, VT. She thrives on starting too many projects, which she documents on instagram @westlane___.