Preserve Peppers To Use In The Winter

Drying peppers

All summer you have had nice fresh peppers to use in your cooking and with the coming of the first frost and cold weather, you know those days are coming to an end. But…. they don’t need to end because there are several ways to keep peppers long into the winter so you can continue cooking those nice spicy dishes without having to visit the grocery store.

I put up Jalapeño peppers in two forms, sliced and chopped. To can sliced Jalapeño peppers, first prepare your jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing well and then leave them in a sink of hot water while you prepare the peppers. (You may want to wear gloves while working with a lot of peppers.

Slice all of the peppers in thin slices, discarding the tops. Pack them into the jars (I use both pint and quart size jars) and fill the jars with white vinegar leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rim and close the jar with a NEW lid and ring. (Never reuse the lids. Your health and the possibility of bad seals and food spoilage is not worth the cost of a new lid.)

Once you have all the jars packed process them in a water bath canner for about 15 minutes AFTER the water starts to boil. Remove the jars to cool on a cooling rack. Check to make sure the jars sealed. Store in the pantry to use during the winter. Use same as you would fresh sliced ones.

If you don’t want to slice them and have a food processor, chop them up and can them the same way as the slices. They’re excellent to add into anything where you want to add the flavor but not big bites of peppers. I usually keep some of both on the shelf to tide me over until the garden starts producing again.

Cayenne peppers can be strung up just like Chili peppers to dry. Once dried you simply chop or cruch them up into your favorite dish. I actually don’t string my cayenne peppers, I lay them in a wicker basket and just turn them periodly. They dry nicely that way.

Habanero peppers are a little different. Make sure you have gloves on for these peppers!! These I remove the stem connection, clean the seeds out of the insides and cut into 1/4’s. I then use my dehydrator to dehydrate them and then I use my seal-a-meal to vacuum seal them for storage.

Red, Yellow, Orange, or Green sweet (Bell) peppers are easy to save if you have a little freezer space. Clean the peppers removing stem, core and seeds, pat them dry and cut them into strips. Put the strips in a freezer bag for current use an vacuum seal to save for the winter.

For those of you without a garden, you can pick these peppers up at your local farmers market or a the grocery store when they go on sale. This will provide you with a nutritious low-cost source of peppers for cooking.

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