This year I had less gardening space than in previous years, focusing almost exclusively on container gardening on my deck. Even so, I had an explosion of late summer produce. I spent more time than typical this year putting up vegetables. For those who don't know the term "putting up" in this context, it refers to preserving food for use in the winter and early spring, before new crops are available.
First I prepared Swiss Chard for freezing. I cleaned and chopped the leaves and stems, then blanched them for 2 minutes in boiling water. I measured out quantities I thought I'd want for meals later into freezer bags. Done!
I have a beautiful crop of jalapenos that's still producing. I decided to get the canning equipment out one more time to preserve this bounty. I just can't eat that many fresh jalapenos at a time. I made baked jalapenos stuffed with cheddar cheese a couple weeks ago, and my husband and I nearly burst into flame. These are some hot peppers!
Canning is the best option. I chose quarter pint canning jars, and a few half pints. Small, usable quantities. Our elder daughter orchestrated the fruit canning and freezing a few weeks back. I decided to go it alone this time.
The recipe warned to wear rubber gloves to avoid getting burned by the capsaicin - the substance in the peppers that makes it hot. I've made the mistake of cutting up jalapenos and then touching my lips. It burns for hours.
Preparing produce for canning takes the lion's share of time. You want some uniformity. I threw in bits of small sweet red peppers for added color, along with a couple red jalapenos.
Next comes cleaning your equipment. It's critical to be sanitary. Those jars might sit in your cupboard for a year and a half. Timing sanitizing the jars and lids, boiling the vinegar, and packing the hot jars with jalapenos is a bit tricky. Finally, they go in the canning bath, a huge pot of boiling water.
After a nervous several minutes (lots of extra minutes at high altitude), I pulled the jars from the water bath and waited.
POP! The first lid sealed. POP POP POP! More lids sealed. That popping is the sound of success. The rubber lined lid has sealed to the glass jar, and will now be safe to place on a cupboard shelf for many months.
My stint as Pioneer Woman is over for the season. I'll put my canning equipment away for another year. Well, unless my bumper crop of tomatoes needs to be canned.....
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