‘Tis the season for holiday baking and gift giving. While I have yet to do either so far (we don’t even have a Christmas tree yet!), I have dipped into my stash of jars twice already for potluck-style parties. And, it occurred to me that someone out there might also appreciate having a stash of these goodies for impromptu appetizers. Today I’ll introduce you to the candied jalapenos; tomorrow you can learn about the tomato jam. I’ve found that they are lovely on their own and combined, on top of the fact that they are super easy to make and you really only need to can them if you want to hold onto them long-term.
Every summer, I plant at least two jalapeno plants in my garden. I started doing this because I love bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers and there is nothing more fun that filling up a platter for a summer bbq and popping them in your mouth. With my garden jalapenos, it sometimes becomes Popper Roulette as some peppers end up much hotter than the others. This is completely different than the year I grew both jalapeno and Serrano peppers and got them mixed up in the picking basket (the serranos were huge!)
This last summer, we didn’t get around to planning a bbq until late in the year, so I had bushels of peppers with no purpose. I’ve frozen them before, which is fine for stews and stir-frys, but they’re too squishy to stuff with cream cheese and wrap with bacon. I thought about making pepper jelly, but you don’t actually use a lot of jalapenos in pepper jelly, unless you’re making a vat of jelly. After some Googling for “what do I do with too many jalapenos” and flipping through the Ball canning recipe book, I decided to make some candied jalapenos, also known as cowboy candy (although, I don’t know why – do you?)
The most referenced recipe I found for candied jalapenos is the one on Tasty Kitchen, so that’s what I started with. I swapped the apple cider vinegar for regular white distilled vinegar, since we have a massive jug from Costco (I also use vinegar in the laundry, while telling Travis I used softener on the towels and sheets… shhh). Three pounds of peppers gave me about six half-pint jars and one half-pint is perfect for serving over a block of cream cheese. I’m also pretty sure you could bake chicken or pork loin and use the peppers as a glaze and it would be fantastic.
Most people recommend letting the candied jalapenos sit for at least a week to mellow out. They definitely get less intense after a while, but I’ve used them the day after canning and feel they’ve mellowed out a lot in just that one day. If you’re really averse to heat, slice the top off the jalapeno and scoop out the seeds and membranes before slicing. I have a grapefruit knife that does the job perfectly. Actually, since I use a mandoline to slice the peppers, I hold it by the stem, start slicing the tip of the pepper, then core the seeds out once I’ve sliced enough away. I also slice garlic cloves into the mix instead of using granulated garlic. Since you’re essentially pickling the peppers and garlic, I’m not worried about the garlic killing anyone.
Candied Jalapenos (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
3 pounds jalapenos
3 garlic cloves
2 cups white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
6 cups sugar
½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Slice the jalapenos and garlic thinly (between ¼ and 1/8 inch, eyeballed), either with a knife or mandoline. If you want less-hot candied jalapenos, remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers before slicing.
2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and spices in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, then add the sliced jalapenos and garlic. Boil for 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the pepper slices to sterilized canning jars.
3. Boil the remaining sugar/vinegar syrup for 6 minutes, then ladle the syrup over the sliced peppers in the jars.
4. You can place the lids on the jars and store them in the fridge, or water-bath can them for 15 minutes to seal.