They weren't pickled yet, but we did pick a peck of banana peppers to make pickled pepper rings. Our pepper plants kicked it into high gear about a month ago and we have been trying to figure out what to do with the bounty. We sold some but not all at the last Tomball Farmers Market, plus there were a lot still on the plants.
Back in 2008, when we belonged to Home Sweet Farm's CSA, there were a few deliveries which contained a lot more peppers than the two of us could eat in a week. I preserved them by cutting out the stem end, slicing them in half, tray freezing them, then dumping them into freezer storage bags. It worked pretty well and we ended up using most of them. Then last year, when our garden was in full swing, I froze a bunch of our own peppers the same way. Most of them were still in the freezer as of last month. Once this year's crop started coming on, I had to grit my teeth and put the old ones in the compost. Sad but true.
So we decided to pickle the banana peppers instead. I did try it last year - I made one quart jar using a pickled banana pepper recipe from Jigginjessica's blog What's Cooking in the Orange Kitchen. I need to spend more time poking around her blog - looks like she has a lot of good recipes. The peppers were tasty but I found that a quart jar was too big for the two of us to finish in a reasonable amount of time.
This year I turned to my trusty canning reference book, So Easy To Preserve from the Cooperative Extension at the University of Georgia. They host a great website, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and have produced a great series about preserving food that is available on DVD. I highly recommend both the book and the DVD set. I learned to can by watching those videos; the book is full of recipes in addition to instructions for the various preservation techniques.
I used a combination of Jessica's recipe and the Pickled Yellow Pepper Rings recipe from So Easy to Preserve. SETP's recipe had a higher vinegar-to-water ratio which produces a lower (safer) pH. I liked that Jessica's recipe used black peppercorns, garlic and a fresh hot pepper (a way to use our abundance of serrano peppers!). Here are the ingredients of my hybrid version:
Because Ed is a master of process design and construction (you should see our rainwater collection system!), I asked him to figure out how to set up the water bath canner somewhere besides the kitchen. It is just too hot in August to be boiling a large pot of water for an hour or so in the house! In no time he had the whole thing going on a Coleman camp stove sitting on our market table in the garage. I wish I had a photo. It was quite an operation. We had the jars preheating in the canner in the garage, two burners going on the stove (boiling brine and simmering jar lids), and the kitchen island covered with chopped peppers, peeled garlic cloves and spices.
We made 7 pint jars. Don't they look pretty with the yellow peppers and mustard seeds, the black peppercorns, and the red serranos?
I am still a canning novice, so I was pleased (and surprised!) that all of the jars sealed. The next day we opened one of the jars to try a couple peppers. Wow, did I pucker up! They are very tart. Next time I think I will try a little less vinegar. They are still good, though, and I am looking forward to trying some on a good roast beef sandwich. I will have to wait until the weather cools off. The high temperature yesterday was 100 degrees. There is no way I am putting a roast in the oven until at least the end of September.
Right now I will just enjoy knowing those jars are sitting in the pantry, waiting to brighten up an autumn meal.