This year during Hatch chile season I was looking for something fun to do to preserve my big batch of Hatch chiles and homegrown jalapenos. I use a ton a jalapenos around my house, they go in nearly everything, and usually I will roast a batch of them and store them in the freezer. But this year I started looking around for other fun things to do and I came across a slew of recipes that were pickling and sweetening the peppers and that sounded intriguing.
I dialed in on a couple of recipes I thought would work and then made some adjustments. The resulting first batch of mixed jalapenos and hatch chiles was amazing! It had just enough heat to remind you that you were eating peppers but enough sweetness that they could pass as a dessert. I took a jar from my first batch to a dinner party so we could all sample them and they were a huge hit. We had the candied peppers with cheese and crackers before the meal, had a few with dinner and then, amazingly, topped the homemade cheese cake with peppers for an incredible dessert (if you make these, you HAVE to try them on cheese cake). These little things are a great little treat and add a level of spicy sweetness to anything you would normally add pickles or peppers to. Try them on everything, seriously.
This recipe also comes with a bonus, but first…the recipe.
- 3 lb Jalapeno peppers, cleaned and sliced (or pepper of choice)
- 2 cups organic cider vinegar
- 6 cups white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (or lemon juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
- 3 cloves finely sliced garlic (or 2 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or red pepper flake (optional)
- Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices. It helps to wear gloves for this part since you’ll be handling a LOT of peppers. Set aside in a large bowl.
- In a large pot, add all other ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly so as not to burn the sugar. Reduce heat and simmer mixture for 5 minutes.
- Carefully add the pepper slices to the simmering pot and cook for 4 minutes. You may have to turn the heat back up a little to continue simmering as the peppers will cool down everything.
- After the peppers have cooked for about 4 minutes, use a large slotted spoon to transfer the peppers to your jars. Fill to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar, pressing down the peppers to pack them tight (they don’t have to be too tight, but this helps store more and reduce the amount of liquid you’ll need).
- Return the pot to the stove, turn up the heat and boil the syrup for another 5 or 6 minutes to thicken.
- Very carefully, pour the boiling syrup into the jars with the jalapeno slices, covering the jalapenos (some may float a little, don’t sweat it). Use a chopstick, butter knife or spoon handle to poke around the side inside the jar to release any air bubbles that might have been trapped. Wipe the rims of the jar clean and seal with fresh, clean lids and bands.
- If you’re going to eat these pretty quick (it’s hard not to) then just toss the jars in the fridge and TRY to give them a couple weeks to mature and marinate. If you want them shelf-stable, then do the water bath for canning: Boil the jars in a large pot or canner for 10-15 minutes, completely covered, then remove to counter to cool overnight. These get better with age, so let them sit as long as you can stand it.
Bonus: Any leftover syrup should be saved! Strain the seeds out of it and pour it into half-pint jars for use later. It is a great, spicy syrup for glazes or marinades. Add it to salad dressings, or use to sweeten stir fry dishes. I have poured mine over homemade vanilla ice-cream and it’s fantastic. Don’t toss it down the drain!
Make it your own
I like to mix the peppers up a little bit. Use whatever peppers you want, find combinations that give you the right amount of heat, use what you have from the garden, use what you can get locally. When Hatch season rolls around I’ll do a batch or two that is JUST Hatch chiles and it’s amazing. The rest of the time, I like to use jalapenos and add a little banana pepper, or Fresno pepper for color and a little different heat. If you’re not big on heat at all, you can make this recipe entirely with sweet peppers and it would still be good, but without the spicy burn.