(Before I left for vacation I worked double-time to get four posts shot and ready to run while I was way. I was allll proud of myself until yesterday when I realized I forgot to set them to automatically post...so they just sat un-posted for the entire time. d'oh. Better late than never!)
Before making this batch of candied jalapenos (sometimes referred to as 'cowboy candy') I had read about them, but had never seen nor tasted one before. Pickled jalapenos? Yes. Candied? No.
Once we popped the lid on the first homemade jar I went from skeptic to fan girl in a matter of minutes. So good!
The jalapeno slices are sweet, tangy, spicy, and absolutely perfect piled on top of crackers or toast with a smear of cream cheese. They're also prime candidates for tucking into sandwiches, nestling in hot dog and burger buns, and scattering over nachos. I'm already hunting for a good deal on jalapenos so we can put away another batch for the winter.
Our canning adventure took place at my friend Vincci's house with a few friends and together we sliced, simmered, and stocked up on these spicy little treats. They're simple to make, especially if you have a few extra hands to help with the prep work.
The first step is to track down three pounds of jalapenos. This part is fun because you get to load handful after handful of the peppers into your basket instead of the standard one or two. Feel free to announce to bystanders that you just like your food really really spicy.
Next, after the jalapenos are washed, you slip on a fashionable pair of rubber gloves and get slicing. We used the thin disposable blue ones you buy at hardware stores, but a basic pair of dish washing gloves would work as well. Don't skip the gloves! You're slicing a lot of peppers and even if you're super careful not to touch your eyes or nose you always end up with hot pepper where you didn't want it.
With gloves: a breeze!
Without gloves: ouchy burny chore.
You can pick the level of heat for your candied jalapenos by either leaving or removing the seeds. We scraped the seeds from 50% of the jalapenos and it was the perfect level of spice for us.
Then the syrup went back to the stove to reduce even further while Vincci's sister wiped the rim of each jar to ensure a good seal once we placed the canning lids on. You don't need to be sporting pokemon nails for this task, but it definitely helps.
I tried a few slices the same day that we made them, and found that the flavor greatly improved after a night in the fridge. We've already worked our way through the first jar and are trying to practice self control by waiting a few weeks before opening the next one.
3 pounds Fresh Jalapeno Peppers
2 cups Cider Vinegar
6 cups White Granulated Sugar
1. Load your dishwasher with your canning jars and lid rims. Start the dishwasher before you start chopping the jalapenos so the jars are hot and clean by the time you are ready to fill them.
2. Wearing gloves, slice (and de-seed if you are de-seeding them) the jalapenos into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside. Take the clean jars out of the dishwasher and place them on a dish towel on your table or counter so they are ready to be filled. Fill a big pot with hot water and place over high heat so that it will be boiling and ready to process the jars once they have been filled.
3. In a separate large pot, combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the jalapeno slices, bring it back to a simmer and simmer for 4 minutes exactly.
4. Remove the pot from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the jalapeno slices into the jars. Return the pot of syrup to the stove and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 6 minutes.
5. Ladle the hot syrup into the jars and use a chopstick to get any air bubbles out. Carefully wipe the rims of the jars, then place a canning lid and rim on and tighten it finger tight.
6. Carefully lower the jars into a rack in the pot of boiling water. The water should cover the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 25 minutes to process the jars. After 25 minutes, remove the jars and place them where they will not be disturbed for 24 hours. After 24 hours you can store the processed jars in the pantry. Once opened, store the jars in the fridge.