Do you remember the tongue-twister about Peter Piper picking a peck of pickled peppers? This week we're going to can pickled peppers — not a full peck, but enough to put on salads and breads for several months.
6 medium-to-large sweet peppers (more if you're doing smaller, spicy peppers)
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling salt (or Kosher salt)
1 tablespoon pickling spices (I used a zesty blend, but you could use your favorite — dill, spicy, zesty, pepper, garlic, etc.)
Yield: Six half-pint jars
Fill your canner with water, put the jar rack in and the lid on, bring to a boil. Sterilize your canning jars. Put the lids in a shallow pan of water and simmer to sterilize.
While waiting for the canner water to boil, pour the water, vinegar and spices into a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Slice the top of the peppers off about 1/2-inch down, then quarter the peppers. Remove all seeds and white inner core. Remove stem and seeds from top and slice in half.
Rinse the peppers and pat dry, then place in heated, sterilized jars. Pack tightly, but not so tightly you bruise the vegetable. Using a funnel, pour the vinegar-water mixture over the peppers in the jars to 1/2-inch from the top.
Using lid lifter, put lids on the jars, then screw on bands finger-tight. Put in boiling water bath canner and process for 10 minutes. Remove promptly and set on a stable surface to cool. Once jars have cooled and lids have popped, they're shelf-stable and can be stored for up to 18 months.
•Bringing the water/vinegar/spice mix to a boil over a longer, slower heat allows the flavors to meld better, in my opinion.
•I usually use a sieve and a funnel, then spoon the spices into the jars evenly.
•You can slice the peppers however you want; I find that quartering them allows me to get one pepper per jar, but that will vary depending on the size of your peppers. If you want to can whole peppers, you have to cut the top off and cut a hole in the bottom so the vinegar mixture will get inside when you pour it over the pepper.
•You can make a variety of types of peppers — many people like pickled spicy peppers — and you can make them with a variety of spices. Try putting one clove of garlic in each jar with some peppercorns, or using celery seed or mustard seed.
•You can also can jalapeno or other spicy peppers with regular peppers, and the spice from the spicier pepper will infuse the sweet pepper.
•Much like with the cucumbers from a few weeks ago, these peppers will fade after being processed. That's a natural reaction to the vinegar and the heat of the boiling water. I often can yellow, red and orange peppers, and I find they don't lose as much of their color as green peppers do.
— Lauren Gross, a York transplant, has long been fascinated by the science of cooking. Her column, Preserving the Harvest, runs seasonally in The York Dispatch food section.