How to Can Hot Peppers to Bring All-Year Heat to Your Table

Follow these steps to preserve your peppers and add punchy flavor to any dish.

Oh, how we love the fire that hot peppers bring to our recipes! Fortunately, you can save your jalapeños, serranos, and poblanos for year-round consumption by pickling and canning them. Would you believe us if we said that jarring peppers is super easy? We'll teach you how to can hot peppers two different ways, enabling you to add bite to sandwiches, top off tacos, or just eat them as a snack for months to come. No matter what kind of canner you have sitting on your shelf—or what's growing outside—these methods will let you enjoy hot peppers on the regular.

How to Can Hot Peppers in a Boiling-Water Canner

Pickled Green Chiles

Break out your boiling-water canner and preserve your jalapeños, serranos, and poblanos with this easy pickled pepper recipe. Because boiling-water canners are usually used for foods with higher acidity, you'll have to pickle your peppers in vinegar (which is highly acidic) to keep them safe to eat. If you don't have a boiling-water canner, use a large stockpot with a tight-fitting lid as a substitute. Make sure you also have a rack to lift the jars off the bottom of the pot, allowing heat to circulate underneath them. Here's what you'll need to make our Pickled Green Chiles:

  • 1-½ pounds fresh jalapeño and/or serrano peppers
  • 1-½ pounds fresh poblano peppers
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • 6 cloves garlic

Safety Tip: Because chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, you should avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When you're working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves to protect your hands. If your bare hands do touch the peppers, wash your hands and nails well with soap and warm water. Also be cautious of cross-contamination—wash your knife and cutting board (and any other tools you use) with soap and warm water as soon as you're finished working with the peppers.

Step 1: Thinly slice peppers into rings, discarding stem ends, seeds, and membranes.

Step 2: In a 4- to 5-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot, combine the water, white vinegar, white wine vinegar, sugar, and pickling salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Step 3: Pack sliced peppers into six hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving ½-inch of headspace. Place 1 clove of garlic in each jar. Pour the hot liquid over the peppers, maintaining the ½-inch of headspace. Discard any remaining vinegar mixture. Wipe the jar rims; adjust the lids and screw bands.

Step 4: Process the filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when the water returns to boiling). Remove the jars from the canner and cool on wire racks. Let stand at room temperature for 1 week before serving.

How to Can Hot Peppers in a Pressure Canner

Dial-Gauge Pressure Canner for Home Canning
Dial-Gauge Pressure Canner for Home Canning.

Pressure canners are usually used for low-acidic foods like vegetables. They're able to heat jars to 240°F to 250°F, whereas boiling-water canners only heat jars to 212°F. Because pressure canners achieve a higher temperature, there's no need to pickle your peppers to preserve them. Every type of pressure canner is different, so always check out the manufacturer's instructions before getting started. Follow these instructions for canning peppers in a pressure canner:

Step 1: Select firm jalapeño or other chile peppers. Wash and halve peppers. Remove the stems, seeds, and membranes.

Step 2: Place the peppers, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 425°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the skins are bubbly and brown.

Step 3: Cover the peppers or wrap them in foil and let them stand about 15 minutes or until cool. Using a paring knife, pull off the skin gently and slowly.

Step 4: Pack the peppers in pint jars. Add boiling water, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Process the jars in your pressure canner for 35 minutes.

How to Sterilize Canning Jars & Lids

Before you fill up your jars with pickled pepper goodness, be sure to sterilize all of the jars and lids. If you're new to canning, here's exactly how to do it:

  • Wash your canning jars in hot, soapy water and rinse them thoroughly.
  • Place the washed jars in a boiling-water canner or other deep pot.
  • Cover with hot tap water and bring to simmering over medium heat.
  • Let the jars simmer for 10 minutes, then keep them hot in the simmering water until you're ready to fill each one.
  • For lids, place them in a bowl and pour some of the hot water from the sterilizing pot over the tops of the lids (don't boil them). You can leave the screw bands on the side—they don't need to be sterilized.
  • When you're ready to fill your jars, remove one sterilized jar at a time from the water and place it on a clean kitchen towel to keep it from slipping while you fill it.
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