From Garden to Jar: Make Pickled Banana Peppers
Pickled banana peppers are the crown jewel of basically every sandwich. Unless there’s fried jalapeño. I mean… come on. Anyhow, pickled banana peppers are great on sandwiches, salads, and in charcuterie boards. I love having them on hand. But I love knowing how they were made and what’s in the jar even more. NO surprise chemicals or crazy synthetic preservatives here.
Here’s simple step by step instructions to water bath can some pickled banana peppers! You can find these vibrant gems at your local farmer’s market, a nearby grocery store, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can channel your inner farmer and grow them yourself.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Ingredients
Let’s round up what you’ll need:
- 5 lbs fresh peppers (any variety you like – jalapeños, bell peppers, or the star of our show, banana peppers)
- 8 cups vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar)
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Chopped garlic (measure with your heart)
- 2 teaspoons celery seed (optional)
- Glass canning jars with lids and bands
- Large pot
- Jar lifter or tongs
- Canning funnel (optional, but helpful)
- Clean kitchen towels
Step 2: Prep Your Peppers
Start by giving your peppers a good wash and dry. I like to soak all my produce in baking soda and water. Now, you can slice them into rings, strips, or leave them whole. Think ahead of time about how you want to use them, then prep them accordingly.
Step 3: Sterilize Your Jars
Pop those jars into a pot of simmering water for about 10 minutes. This sterilizes them and ensures your precious peppers will stay safely preserved. You can also run them through the dishwasher or give them a thorough wash with dish soap and water. Just make sure you wash all the soap out or you’ll ruin your peppers.
Step 4: Create Your Brine for Pickling
In another pot, combine your water, vinegar (5% acidity), salt, sugar, garlic, and celery seed. Bring everything to a boil.
Step 5: Pack The Peppers
Don’t be bashful, pack those peppers like carry-on bag you plan on using for a 10 day vacation. The trick here is to leave just enough room for the brine and to give yourself enough insurance for the lid to seal. Most people will tell you to leave ½ inch of space from the top, but these guys float, so I tend to pack it to 1/4 inch. You’ll notice that I didn’t pack every jar as tightly as I should have. You’ll have a lot of float, which isn’t a bad thing! I just means that I should have stuffed more in there.
Step 6: Pour in the Brine
Ladle that warm brine over your peppers, covering them completely and leaving that 1/4 inch headspace. Release any trapped air bubbles by gently tapping the jar or using a butter knife. Now, wipe the jar rims clean with a damp cloth – we want a clean, snug seal.
Step 7: Seal the Deal
Place the lids on your jars and screw on the bands until they’re comfortably snug. Don’t over-tighten – these jars. You just want a gentle hug, not a bodybuilder’s grip. This allows air to escape during processing, ensuring a proper seal. The pro’s call this “finger tight”. Turn till you feel resistance, then just a quarter turn more.
Step 8: The Water Bath
I prefer to water bath over pressure can because peppers are delicate and I fund they turn into mush when they’re pressure canned. Place your sealed jars in a large pot filled with boiling water, making sure they’re covered by about an inch of water. They need to be completely submerged. I prefer a hard boil for the full 15 mins. The processing time depends on your altitude and the type of peppers, but around 10-15 minutes should do for most.
Step 9: Cool Off
Carefully remove your jars from the water bath using a jar lifter or tongs. Place them on a clean kitchen towel and let them cool. DO NOT TOUCH THE LIDS! (Yes, I screamed. This is important). If you push down the lids and seal it you won’t know if it’s actually shelf stable. As the jars cool the lids will ping shut on their own. Also, these are HOT! Allow them to cool for a few hours. When the jars are room temperature you can check the seals and remove the rings.
Step 10: Admire, Share and Store
Behold your hard work – rows of beautifully preserved peppers! Store them in a cool, dark place – like a pantry – and let them hang out for a couple of weeks to develop their full flavor. After that, they’re ready to be enjoyed whenever you’re in need of a flavor boost.