Jalapenos are easy vegetables to grow, but when it comes to using them in your cooking, it’s a bit more difficult.
Not everybody loves the spicy-hot crunch of a fresh jalapeno, but luckily, there are hundreds of different recipes out there that can incorporate them (without necessarily turning up the heat). You just have to get creative!
That some sort of creativity is necessary when it comes to preserving jalapenos. There are plenty of ways you can save your jalapeno peppers for the future – I know I tried out most of these this summer when I was blessed with pounds upon pounds of jalapeno peppers in my garden.
If you have a little bit of time on your hands and want to be able to enjoy the spicy crunch of a jalapeno pepper long into the winter months, consider giving some of these jalapeno preservation ideas a try.
Drying Jalapeno Peppers
Drying jalapeno peppers is one of the easiest methods of preserving these tasty vegetables. It allows for long term storage without taking up a ton of space in your refrigerator or freezer.
There are a few ways you can dry your jalapeno peppers – you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment or technical knowledge in order to do this.
No matter which method you try, make sure you wash and dry your jalapenos thoroughly. Jalapeno peppers aren’t exactly dirty plants, but especially if you used any kinds of fertilizers or pesticides, it’s important that you get those chemicals off your plants.
To dry jalapeno peppers using the classic method of air drying, all you need to do is place them on a wire rack in a room that is dry and well-ventilated. Make sure the entire surface area of the pepper has access to air to allow for even drying. You might need to turn them once a day in order to ensure this.
If you do n’t want to go through the effort of rotating your peppers, you can always string them up on a piece of string. It takes about three or four weeks for your papers to completely dry.
You can also dry jalapeno peppers in the oven. This takes up much less space and is a bit less time-consuming. You will wash and dry your peppers before cutting them in half length wise to expose the seeds.
Lay the peppers out on a baking sheet and then cook them in the oven at the lowest temperature possible – 100 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Keep an eye on the peppers, turning every fe minute. As soon as they are crunchy, your work is complete.
If you have a dehydrator, this is by far the easiest method of preserving jalapenos via drying. All you need to do is cut the peppers and lay them out on the racks, letting them dry in about seven or eight hours.
Once your jalapeno peppers are fully dry, no matter which method you use, you can grind them up to use like cayenne powder or you can keep them whole. You may rehydrate them easily with water to allow for easy integration in just about any recipe that calls for these veggies!
Pickling Jalapeno Peppers
Jalapeno peppers cannot be canned except for in a pressure canner – the exception to this is if you can after pickling your papers first. Pickled peppers also can be stored in the refrigerator.
Wash and dry your peppers to start. While you are doing this, you should also be sterilizing any jars you intend to use.
You will need one pound of jalapeno peppers, three cups of white vinegar, a tablespoon of pickling salt, and other herbs to taste. You might consider adding white pepper, hot sauce, or garlic, for example.
All you need to do is bring the vinegar to a boil in a small pot before adding the rest of your ingredients. Remove the mixture from the heat, pour the contents into a jar, and let it cool.
You can then refrigerate your pickled peppers or you can process them in a canner. You should process in a water bath canner for about 15 minutes.
After they have been canned, pickled jalapeno peppers can last for several years in storage. They taste great in traditional Mexican dishes as well as when eaten as side dishes or snacks.
Roasting Jalapeno Peppers
Many people overlook the idea o roasting jalapeno peppers as a form of preservation. However, it’s a great way to preserve jalapenos because it allows you to remove the outer skin and gives the peppers a unique new flavor.
Roasted peppers are perfect for your favorite jalapeno popper recipe. All you need to do is apply some source of heat- you can do this in your oven or even over an open fire. The heat will cause these kins to char, blacken, and eventually loosen. You can then peel them.
A slow-roasted jalapeno pepper that has been cooked for a long period of time will have a unique, sweet flavor, while one that hasn’t been roasted for very long will remain quite spicy.
Freezing Jalapeno Peppers
Freezing is one of the quickest methods of preserving jalapeno peppers. It requires very little time as you don’t need to cook them before freezing – you just need to peel them or skin them if you so choose.
Once you thaw your jalapeno peppers, the skins will come off easily, too – so if you know you are going to want peeled peppers but don’t want to take the time to do it now, don’t worry.
To freeze jalapeno peppers, begin by washing them thoroughly and placing them into a freezer-safe bag. Put them in the freezer and use them up within six months to a year.
If you don’t want your jalapeno peppers to clump together in the freezer, try laying them out on a cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer and allow them to freeze individually overnight. Once they have frozen, you can remove them and place them in bags -this way, the papers can be removed individually.
Frozen and thawed peppers are a bit limp to the touch and rather squishy, so they won’t have the original crunch that they did when they were fresh. However, you can still use them in just about any recipe you originally had in mind.
Canning Jalapeno Peppers
Canning jalapeno peppers is one of the easiest methods of preserving jalapenos, but keep in mind that you will need to have a pressure canner in order to do this safely.
The reason for this is that jalapeno peppers are considered low acid foods. You cannot water bath can jalapenos because the temperatures do not get high enough to get rid of the risk of botulism.
To pickle jalapenos, you will need about three pounds of jalapeno peppers along with 1 ½ gallons of water (for the canner), 1 ¾ cups water (for the jars), 7 ½ cups vinegar (white or apple cider will both work), 2 ½ tablespoons of canning salt, and spices to taste.
This will yield about six pint jars.
Wash and slice your peppers. You can cut them into slices as you see fit, depending on how you intend to use them in your recipes. Wash and rinse your pint jars, preparing and sanitizing them as needed.
Place your herbs (mustard and celery both work well) in the bottom of your canning jars. Pack the peppers into the jars, allowing for about half an inch of headspace.
Bring your vinegar, water, and canning salt to a boil. Ladle the brine over your peppers and make sure they are totally covered.
If there are any bubbles in the jars, remove them before attaching your lids and bands. Process the jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if needed. Let them cool for 24 hours and then store for one year.
Jalapeno Peppers in Olive Oil
Preserving jalapeno peppers in olive oil is another popular method of preservation. This will keep your peppers fresh for at least a week – but often longer. Olive oil peppers are fantastic when eaten on their own or as a topping for dishes like tacos or fajitas.
To do this, start by roasting your jalapenos on a grill over medium heat. The skins should be slightly blackened. After cooling, skin the peppers and cut them into thick strips.
Next, you should remove the seeds from the peppers. The innards will retain more than enough heat, so you don’t need the seeds to make the vegetables even stronger!
Add your strips of pepper to clean jars. Pour in just enough olive oil to cover them up and then put a lid on the jars. You will need to keep the jar airtight and refrigerated.
A Word of Caution on Preserving Jalapenos
Preserving jalapenos is a fun way to pass the time on a rainy summer afternoon, but I do have to give you one word of caution. When you are handling the pepperpots, particularly when you are slicing or cutting them, make sure you wear gloves – and under no circumstances should you touch your face!
When you are done cutting or handling the peppers, make sure you wash your hands immediately. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that you are going to have painful jalapeno burns on your hands – and trust me, this is not fun to deal with!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.