Many people grow their own banana peppers in their backyard gardens. In addition, peppers are readily available in most grocery stores and at farmer’s markets. Their popularity is due to their amazing flavor without a great deal of spiciness. Even people who dislike spicy foods find that banana peppers make a great addition to many tasty dishes.

Benefits of Pickling One’s Own Banana Peppers

One of the best things to do with banana peppers is to pickle them. This canpreserve them for many months, even when the ground may be frozen and there is nothing growing outside. In most climates, banana peppers are a medium or light green; however, the longer they are left on the vine, the riper and more colorful they become. In southern climates, pickled banana peppers can be quite beautiful with colors of orange, red and yellow.

One reason why pickled banana peppers are so great is that they have numerous uses. They provide just the right amount of flavor on sandwiches and salads, making a potentially bland meal absolutely delicious. However, they can also be used creatively in other dishes, such as omelets and stir-fries.

Another benefit of canning one’s own banana peppers instead of purchasing them at the store is that one can always be sure of the ingredients in home-canned products. If the peppers are grown in one’s own yard, the grower can be assured that the peppers do not have any herbicides or insecticides on them and that they are not coated with any wax.

Items Needed for Pickling Banana Peppers

It is important to pick the best banana peppers for a pickling recipe. The peppers should be ripe; peppers that are too dark green will not have a good taste. The peppers should be firm to the touch. A pound of peppers will make between three to four quarts when pickled.

Several other groceries will also be needed. Of course, vinegar and water are necessities. Most cooks use white vinegar although some choose to use cider vinegar. There should be at least a four to one ratio of vinegar to water used. Canning or pickling salt is needed because table salt will make the liquid in the jar cloudy. Some of the most common spices that are added for seasonings include garlic, ground mustard and celery seed. Fresh garlic is preferred over dried for its excellent flavor.

The other items that are needed are general canning supplies. These include a canning pot or other large stockpot, a saucepan, canning jars with rings and lids, spoons and ladles, a jar lifting tongs and a cooking funnel. Those who do not already own these items can find them easily at kitchen supply stores or, occasionally, at big box stores.

Steps for Pickling Banana Peppers

Pickling banana peppers can be an easy half day task, particularly if one has pickled vegetables previously. The first step is to slice the peppers. Most people choose to slice them into rings; however, they can also be cut into strips. Choosing whether to remove the seeds while slicing the peppers is a purely personal preference. The seeds will add a hotter, spicier flavor to the finished product. Those who do not like spicy foods should be safe and remove the seeds. In addition, some people remove the skin from the peppers before pickling them because they do not like the tough texture of the skin. However, if the peppers are expertly pickled, the finished product will be crisp even if the skins remain.

After the peppers are cut, the cook should place them into the sanitized canning jars without closing the lids. Next, the water, vinegar, pickling salt, sugar and spices should be heated in the saucepan until boiling. The mixture should simmer for several minutes to allow the spices to permeate the liquid. When this step is completed, the vinegar mixture should be poured over or ladled into each jar until only a half inch to one inch of empty jar remains. The lids and rings should then be put on the jars.

Next, it is time to use the canning pot. The cook should already have water boiling in the pot. Using the jar lifting tongs, he or she should place each prepared jar into the water while making sure that the water completely covers all of the jars. After 10 minutes of boiling, the jars can be removed to a heat-resistant location. Those who live at higher altitudes may need to boil the jars for 15 to 20 minutes. The jars will need to cool overnight.

The jars should cool without the rings or with the rings loosened. In the morning, the cook should check that each lid has completely sealed. The lid should not make a popping noise when the center is pressed.

Storing Pickled Banana Peppers

If the jars have completely sealed in the canner, they can be stored in a dark, cool place for up to a year. Cooks should be careful only to process the amount of peppers that they believe they will be able to consume in that amount of time. Jars should never be placed near heating vents, hot water pipes or a furnace because the heat can make the peppers spoil. Jars that have not sealed should be placed in the refrigerator and should be eaten soon. Although it is not ever necessary to freeze pickled banana peppers, they will still be edible should they be accidentally frozen. However, the texture may not be as crisp as it was previously.

Homemade pickled banana peppers are a fun and healthy alternative to the store-bought variety. Individuals who learn to do this themselves can save money, create delicious, flavorful meals and feel great about learning something new. Because pickled banana peppers can be used in so many dishes, several jars of this tasty condiment will be easily used in the space of one year.

Cynthia Lopez