Candied Jalapenos – Cowboy Candy

Background

Last year, was our first try making these treats. They were an instant hit. However, with only 12 half pints we had to conserve the supply for family gatherings and parties. Even people that are not pepper aficionados will go for these (except for my wife Teal).  The original recipe from Foodiewithfamily.com was modified somewhat.  Our favorite way to enjoy them is with cream cheese or mild cheddar and crackers. Some of you may think this similar to the pepper jelly cream cheese and crackers that was popular in the 70’s.

So this year we set out to make a lot more. I planted a good supply of peppers of various types (Jalapenos, Big Jims, corno di toro, and caribbean reds)  and then let them ripen.  However with a dozen plants this was not enough. So yesterday, I went to the Waukesha farmer’s market early and bought out a couple of the vendors.   Each batch requires 3 pounds stemmed and seeded, approximately 3.5 to 4 lbs whole.  We overbought – next time I will bring a scale.  Ideally you will have 1/3 – 1/2 ripe red peppers and the balance being green jalapenos (or serranos if you like more heat) . This photo shows about 10 lbs.

You can double the batches without problem if you have large enough kettles.  Each batch will have left over liquid which you keep using, just add to it to replenish. Every 3rd batch or so, we skip adding more liquid.  Use pH test paper to make sure it is still in the sub 4.5 range, if not using pH paper , keep adding half as much vinegar on the “skip” batches to make sure it stays safely acidic.  Wear gloves, otherwise after handling several batches of peppers, you won’t be able to touch any sensitive areas for better than a day.

Prep the peppers

To prep the peppers there are 2 methods that we use. You can use a corer (like the Big Green Egg Jalapeno corer) or modify one of the cheap ones from the grocery store. This allows you to and pull the seeds and membranes out if they are large and then slice. However this really only works well with very large peppers. A better way is to start slicing from the pointy end and then pause when you hit seeds. 1/8 to 1/4″ wide slices. Now slice off the stem end. Stand the pepper on one of the cut ends and now start slicing vertically shaving off strips the same width around the seeds.   The second method is not only faster, you end up with a lot less seeds mixed in with your peppers.   I am not a fan of the bitterness of the seeds and membranes.  I think this is one of the keys to having great tasting results. We did a comparison to some commercially made candied peppers that were merely sliced with the seeds left in and ours won the flavor comparison hands down.

Ingredients

3 lbs seeded and sliced peppers (1/8-1/4″ thick slices or strips). We include 2 habaneros per batch for bit more heat and flavor. Weigh it out!

2 cups apple cider vinegar

6 cups white sugar  (yes a lot they are Candied peppers)

1/2 tsp ground Tumeric

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

In a large pot, mix all of the ingredients except the peppers. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully as it starts to boil as it will boil over easily (like jelly, and make just as much of a mess).  Add the peppers and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, boil for another 4 minutes.

Each batch makes 3 pints or 6 1/2 pints.   Boil your jars, lids, and utensils (slotted spoon, ladle, funnel). Using a slotted spoon and a canning funnel,  fill and pack the jars with the peppers. You will need to pack down the peppers a bit.

Boil the liquid to reduce for 6 minutes.  Ladle into the jars . Use a poker to work out any air bubbles. Add more liquid leaving 1/4″ headspace (maybe more like 3/8″).  Put on the lids and bands.

Process in boiling  for 10 minutes for 1/2 pints and 15 minutes for the pints after it returns to a boil.

Remove from the water, re-tighten the bands and set aside to cool.

These should sit for a month before using.  Today we made 36 half pints and 8 full pints (one lid blew off in the water bath otherwise we would have 9). This took about 6-7 hours.

All times start after hitting a full rolling boil. This recipe is not a complete guide to home canning. For more info look up info from various University extensions such as: https://fyi.uwex.edu/safepreserving/recipes/  or get the Ball Blue Book of canning.