Chilies are a popular fruit vegetable that can be grown in numerous varieties, degrees of heat and flavors. If the pepperoni harvest turns out to be rich, it is worth pickling them and thus preserving them for a longer period of time. However, with the right methods and the appropriate instructions, canning the nightshade plants is not a problem.
Shelf life and suitable varieties
As a home grower, there are several methods you can use to preserve your pepperoni harvest:
- processed, for example into sauces
Drying is especially recommended if you intend to use the pepperoni as a condiment, as it removes a lot of the moisture from them. This intensifies the sharpness and makes chopping extremely easy. Pickling the pods is a way of using the whole fruit over a longer period of time. The shelf life of pickled peppers varies from one to two years unopened. When pickling the chillies, it doesn’t really matter which types or varieties you use. They all have similar properties in terms of keeping quality, as they belong to the same genus of plants, peppers (bot. Capsicum). However, there are some varieties that you can preserve particularly well:
What they all have in common is that they have quite thick flesh and can therefore be preserved particularly well. They absorb the liquid used well when they are put in and therefore have a much longer shelf life than the other types. Of course, you can also preserve hot varieties such as the Thai Chili Bird Eyes or Habanero, but they lose some of the desired spiciness. The varieties mentioned above are those that are often used for dishes or eaten directly from the glass. The others are slightly better suited for direct processing or for drying to further enhance the spiciness, making them ideal as a condiment.
Tip: Don’t get confused when it comes to the terms pepperoni, chili or paprika. These terms usually describe a range of hotness of the peppers, whereby the classic sweet pepper is not hot, the hotness of peppers is between 100 and 500 Scoville and chillies start at a value of 500.
It is important to prepare the peppers before pickling them. This ensures that the shell becomes a little softer and the brew can penetrate, which makes it much easier to preserve the pods. These do not have to be cut open first. For canning, be sure to use pods that are firm. Wilted or damaged chilies can lead to the growth of mold or bacteria, making them unfit for consumption. So be sure to check your crop for it. For further preparation you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 liters of water
- 500 grams of sea salt
With these ingredients you make a brine in which you soak the pods so that they absorb the brew better during preservation and can thus be preserved for a long time. It is best to use sea salt, as this is free from additives and anti-caking agents. Of course you can use other types of salt as long as they do not contain any additives, as these are not really suitable for preparing the peppers. Once you have the ingredients ready, do the following:
- Mix water and salt in a large container
- stir well so there are no lumps
- fill the peppers in one piece into the brine
- weigh down with a lid or plate
- as a result, they do not swim on the surface
- that would not sufficiently soak some of the chilies
The pods are treated in this way for 16 to 24 hours, preferably overnight, so that you can can the chilies the next morning or at noon. Pickling becomes a lot easier if you decide to do the prep. The salt soaks into the skins of the peppers and softens them. This allows the brew to soak into the pulp more easily, thus initiating the preservation of the fruit vegetable. It is also important to sterilize the jars. These are processed just before canning in the following way so that they are completely sterile:
- Place glasses sideways in a saucepan
- put the lids in the pot as well
- let it cook for 10 minutes
- then carefully remove with tongs or oven mitts
- the glasses are very hot
Then the glasses should be quickly filled with the fruit and the brew.
Tip: Since your chillies are home-grown fruit vegetables, you don’t have to worry about pesticides or anything like that. These have a negative effect on the taste of the peppers, which is particularly noticeable when they are eaten after they have been preserved.
Canning pepperoni: instructions
Pickling chillies is particularly effective after sterilizing the jars and soaking them in brine. For this you need the following ingredients, the amounts of which you can of course adjust. This amount is enough for four jars with a volume of 250 milliliters or two with a volume of 500 milliliters:
- 1 liter vinegar with at least 5 percent acidity
- 1 liter of water
- 45 grams of sea salt or similar
- alternatively spices, an onion, garlic and feta
When it comes to vinegar, make sure that it is of high quality, as this is immediately noticeable in the taste. In addition, you should not choose fruit vinegar, as this will discolor the chillies. If you decide to use herbs, you have a wide range to choose from, as the pods go well with virtually all classic preserves. Garlic and onions are not put in together with the peppers, they are used exclusively for the brew. However, feta is a popular addition that provides a more intense flavor when canning.
The following instructions explain step by step how to insert the chillies:
- After storage in brine, remove the chillies, rinse and dry them well. You can trim the stems, but it really isn’t necessary as it won’t affect the flavor. To do this, take a fork and poke a few holes in the flesh. As a result, the brew is absorbed even more easily by the pods.
- Vinegar brew is now prepared. To do this, mix vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and boil the mixture briefly so that the acidity does not decrease too much. Garlic and onions are briefly added to the pot at the same time.
- To preserve the peppers, fill them in the sterilized containers. Fill the glasses so that an inch or two remains free below the rim. This is necessary so that the broth completely covers the pods. This is the only way they can last as long as they do.
- Now cover the pods completely with the liquid. You have the choice: let it cool down or pour it hot. If you want to preserve chili peppers that are firm to the bite, opt for the cold brew. For soft chillies, pour hot.
- Before capping, allow air bubbles to escape if any are visible. Then tightly close and place in a dark place that is cool and will not suffer from the effects of heat.
- After canning, the peppers have to stand before they can be eaten. The following periods should be observed:
• Thin-fleshed peppers: 4 – 6 weeks
• Thick-fleshed chilies: a minimum of 6 weeks
- After the waiting time, the pepperoni can be eaten. After opening, they should be used up within four to six weeks and stored in the refrigerator during this time. As described above, the fruiting vegetables will last between one and two years after canning if the storage space is right and they are not suddenly reheated or opened in the meantime.
- During the storage time, you should definitely pay attention to a bulging of the lid. In this case, discard the entire glass as toxic botulism bacteria have formed.
Pickling in vinegar is particularly effective and ensures that you can store even large crops. Feel free to try out different combinations of spices to influence the aroma of the brew. Alternatively, you can boil and use the brew together with the herbs. But also pay attention to the cooking time so that you don’t accidentally lower the concentration of the vinegar. Otherwise, you do not have to consider any other points.
Tip: If you’re wondering whether chili peppers can be pickled in oil, the answer is: not recommended. Peppers and chillies are known to form botulism bacteria in the oil due to the non-acidic, but oxygen-free environment, which can lead to the serious illness of the same name after consumption.
Alternative: soak the pepperoni in alcohol
In addition to the classic vinegar method, you can easily pickle your harvest in alcohol. The advantage: This method is particularly easy to use and you don’t even have to sterilize the glasses beforehand. For this reason, you can even use bottles for canning, as long as they can be sealed tightly. Otherwise you will lose the alcohol percentage, as it escapes into the air over a longer period of time. Spirits with an alcohol content of over 38 percent are best suited for this purpose. This ensures the best effect. The following alcohol has proven to be particularly good for this type of preservation:
- double grain
Of course you can use other spirits, even your own distilled products. Just keep in mind that the inherent flavor of the pepperoni can have a major impact on the flavor of the alcohol and vice versa.
Instructions – soak chillies in alcohol
- It is not necessary to prepare the chillies. However, they are pierced with a fork.
- Fill the jar or bottle with the pods. Herbs are not recommended for this, as the pods already develop an extremely intense aroma together with the alcohol.
- Now fill the container with the spirit and seal the jar tightly. All peppers should be sufficiently covered.
- The spirit must now steep for a period of several weeks. On average, four weeks is enough. You really don’t have to leave the alcohol for longer, otherwise the peppers could lose their aroma.
- The alcohol is simply poured into another bottle via a sieve, closed and can be drunk without any problems. Note that the schnapps can taste very intense, as the chilies release flavorings into it.
Hot pepper schnapps is a popular form of pickling the pods in countries that use peppers frequently. You can even experiment with some spices that work well with the alcohol being used, such as tequila and cinnamon. This is especially useful if you have leftover peppers that you don’t want to store in vinegar.
Tip: It is also possible to use high-proof alcohol from the pharmacy, but you must first find out what form of alcohol it is. Alcohol and isopropanol are not suitable for consumption.