Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Candied Jalapeno Peppers: Daring Cooks Challenge September

Considering the state of affairs in my brain lately, it was utterly serendipitous that the Daring Cooks challenge this month had to do with food preservation -- because that's exactly what I've been spending my time doing lately.  And that means I haven't had much time for extra-curricular cooking projects!

One of our goals during the Eat Local Challenge this year has been to preserve as much local produce as possible so that we're able to sustain our regular local eating for a longer period of time.  And, so far, we've put up quite the stash of edibles:
  • 25 lbs of roasted Amish paste tomatoes
  • 14 cups of roasted tomatillo sauce (with more to come)
  • 10 lbs Italian Romano beans
  • 15 lbs of roasted red peppers
  • 50 lbs of Door County peaches
  • 20 cups applewood smoked sweet corn
  • 1/2 lb dehydrated Principe Borghese tomatoes
  • 6 lbs raspberries
Our freezer is filling quickly, so I had plans to start canning foods, rather than freezing them.  The first recipe on my list -- candied jalapenos!

I should preface all that excitement by confessing that, for a good many years, I've harbored a very irrational (yet real) fear of canning.  I have no idea where it came from, since my mother canned all sorts of delicious things when I was a girl -- tomatoes, peaches, pears, salsa, jelly, jam...  You name it, my mom seemed to be able to can it.   But me -- not so much.

About five years ago, I bought all of the supplies -- the jar grabber thingie, the magnetic lid picker-upper, the oversized funnel...  but the items sat there down in the basement. Unused.  And I'm not really sure why.  The fact of the matter was, I wasn't really afraid I'd give anyone botulism. But, canning seemed... like such a pain.

I knew I needed a great recipe to push me to tackle canning on my own. Fortunately, I didn't have to look very far to find one. Ever since I saw the recipe over at CakeWalk last summer, I've wanted to try my hand at canning these peppers. We were lucky enough to be able to sample them when Rebecca brought corn bread made with the peppers to our Soup Night last February -- and we fell in love.  I vowed to conquer my irrational fears of canning and make the best possible use of the jalapeno harvest in 2010 -- expressly to make these wonderful little sweet-hot wonders.

And so we did!  I didn't, unfortunately, have enough peppers in my own little garden to equal the three pounds needed for the recipe. But, I was fortunate that Kay from Jen Ehr Family Farms did.  Her peppers were fat and succulent looking -- with the tell-tale striations that always seem to belie a nice amount of peppery kick.

About 20 minutes with the mandoline yielded a large bowl filled with near-perfectly sliced jalapenos.  And a few more minutes  of cooking gave me the vinegary-sweet pepper-infused syrup that I'd need to get the canning process underway.

I'll admit I felt more than a little bit twitterpated by the thought of putting my (never used) canning supplies to work.  And I was even more excited by the fact that the recipe seemed quite nearly fool-proof.  Thanks to a few wise tips and lots of encouragement from Rebecca, I was on my way.

Of course, as I heard the water come to a boil in my canning pot, I also felt the butterflies mounting in my stomach.  How exciting was this?? I was canning!  And it was easy!

By the time our 7 half-pint jars were filled with jalapenos and the pot was bubbling gaily in the midst of processing, Peef and I had already decided that we also wanted to can the leftover brine from the recipes.  What would we do with it?  *wink*  Well, only time would tell!

In the meantime, we'll be happily eating our lovely jars of candied jalapenos -- in corn bread, on pulled pork sandwiches, burgers... and strewn deliciously atop jerk chicken nachos.  OH, YUM.

Candied Jalapenos

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

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  1. Canning is still one of those things that I am interminably scared of. But candied jalapenos are now calling to me. I mean, who wouldn't love that spicy sweet combination?

  2. Such an interesting item to candy. Sweet and spicy all at the same time. You can probably eat them straight from the jar. Nice job with your canning venture! It's really fun to do.

  3. I'm loving these "daring cook challenges" floating around the canning internet lately! But I must say, yours looks most intriguing (why am I not surprised). The candied jalapenos in cornbread sounds amazing and between you and some of the other canning bloggers, I'm motivated to jump back into canning (I did it occasionally back in another life). Love your photos and those little chubby jars are darling. =)

  4. It's been ages since I've canned anything, and if I still had my canning stuff I'd be sorely tempted by these peppers. They look and sound amazing. I love the IDEA of canning, and also the resulting jars. Have you seen the blog, foodinjars.com?

  5. I've made pickled jalapenos & jalapeno jam but never thought of candied!

  6. Andrea - I love what Marisa over at FoodInJars does with preserved fare! She has also been part of my inspiration to tackle more creative canning projects.

  7. I'm incredibly impressed (and jealous) of your freezer stash! I had hoped to reach such heights, but I underestimated the amount of time an newborn and a two-year-old take to care for. That said, I read about these lovely candied peppers over at Cakewalk, and they do look smashing! I may have to pull out the my big canning pot yet.

  8. Well, welcome to the world of putting up with putting up. I hate to tell you this, but you may spend all of next year obsessively doing it, now that you've jumped in. It becomes addictive. This looks awesome -- I love the hot-sweet combo, and made a version of my own this summer (chipotle raspberries). But where ever did you get smoked sweet corn?

  9. Becky -
    We actually own a "convection cooker" that takes smoking chips. It's great for smoking lots of things -- including sweet corn. We put the corn right into the cooker, husk and all, and it comes out deliciously sweet and smoky. Best stuff ever -- especially in the middle of February!



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