Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pressure Canned Peppers

This year . . . like most other years . . . I planted a variety of hot peppers in my garden.  

Because peppers are a low acid food they need to be pressure canned.

Obviously, for the best results you need to start out with the freshest, crispest peppers. Select smallish (1 inch to 1 and ¼-inch in diameter) tender, firm, crisp peppers.  Cut out any soft, diseased, spotted and rusty pods.  Figure 1 lb of peppers per pint jar.

A word of caution before you begin.  Unless your a tough warrior babe (i.e knuckleheaded lazy chick) like me, make sure to wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes. Hot peppers can burn your eyes and skin and other . . . uhm . . . parts.  The oil from peppers isn't easily washed away.  My hands and fingers have had an unpleasant . . . but not painful . . . burning sensation the next day after cutting hot peppers without gloves and this was after many hand washing and showering.   You've been warned.

Equipment you will need:

Pressure Canner (I use an All American model 915. An excellent canner, by the way!)
Pint canning jars 
Large spoons and ladles
Lids and Rings
Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
Lid lifter
1 small pot to sanitize the lids
Jar funnel

I've been told you don't need to sanitize the jars before pressure canning; however, I think it's a good practice . . . better to be safe than sorry.

Sanitizing the jars kills any fungus and bacteria to prevent spoilage.  You can use the dishwasher for this if you have an extra hot or sanitize cycle, but you can boil them in the canner while your prepping your beans, which is what I usually do.

If you're using the canner, fill the jars with water and place them in the canner.  Then fill the canner with water  until it is over the tops of the jars and bring to a boil.  You will only need about 3 inches of water for the actual canning process but you can dump out the excess water before you put in your filled jars.  Otherwise, fill the canner about half full and bring to a boil.

Put the lids into the small pot of boiling water for at least several minutes.  

Wash the peppers in fresh, cold water.  

Boil the peppers in water for 3 minutes, then removed the peppers and reserve the water.  Just keep the water simmering and use this water to fill the jars after you've packed them with the peppers.

If you are using small peppers you can leave them whole.  Otherwise, remove stems, cores and seeds; slit them lengthwise to remove the seeds and open them up.

Fill jars loosely, leaving 1-inch of headspace at the top of the jar as this allows for expansion. Flatten whole peppers. Add on teaspoon of 5% white vinegar to each jar. You may add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar for taste but that's optional. 

Carefully fill each packed jar with water from pot of boiling water that they were cooked in.  Make sure to leave that 1 inch of airspace at the top of each jar.  Put the lids on each jar the put a ring on and screwing it down finger tight.  

Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner. You should have 3 inches of water in the canner.  Add hot tap water to the canner if necessary. 

Once all the jars that will fit are in the canner put on the lid and seal it, but leave the weight off (or valve open).

Let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes.  After venting, put the weight on and close any openings to allow the pressure to build to 10 pounds.  Once pressure is up set the timer and process for 35 minutes.  Be sure to maintain the pressure.

Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude in Feet
Dial Gauge Canner
Weighted Gauge Canner

If you live above 1000 feet elevation you need to figure your altitude adjustments canning. As your altitude goes above 1000 feet above sea level the atmospheric pressure is reduced. This causes water to boil at temperatures lower than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

For safety in water bath canning you must bring the contents of your jar to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit. To compensate for the temperature difference you must increase processing time.

The pressure canner is also affected by atmospheric pressures. A pressure canner must reach a temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit in order to stop botulism. To compensate for altitude differences, you must increase the amount of pressure used. The time does not change, only the pressure used.

Once processing time is up, vent the canner to release the pressure.  Make  sure the pressure gauge is down to zero before removing the lid.  Let the pot sit for 10 minutes before opening!

Place the jars in a draft free area and leave undisturbed for at least twelve hours.  At that point, you can remove the rings.  Test to make sure the jars are sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid.  If isn't sucked down then put the jar in the fridge and use as soon as possible.  Otherwise, place your jars in a cool 

dark place for storage.

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