Adventures in Fall Garden Firsts: Pepper Canning, Kale Growing, and Garlic

Easy Pepper Canning: Enjoy Your Harvest All Winter Long

If you’re a new gardener or are thinking about gardening, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not difficult. If you listen to the plants they will actually talk to you and tell you what they need/when it’s time to harvest. Lean in and they’ll say, “Thanks for taking such wonderful care of me, I have some glorious peppers that are at their peak – please help yourself,” or, “Thanks so much for forgetting to water me, asshole. Why don’t you come closer so I can slap you in the face with my drooping, empty branches??” (Or at least that’s what some of mine say – sometimes they get angry.)

For me, harvest time was last week for my peppers and basil. And holy peppers!

I couldn’t let them go to waste – so I decided it was time I learn how to can. I canned jars of pepperoncini, those spicy little rings that go great as a sandwich topper or in pasta; red hot cherry peppers; and even prepared stuffed pepper meals to freeze for easy dinners during the winter (recipe coming in a separate post.) From the basil I made a large batch of pesto sauce that is in the freezer as well. It was on Halloween this past Wednesday, so this was all in between handing out candy to kids. I don’t know what the heck got into me, but oh yes – I was on a muthaf$%^*$ TEAR.

While I was busy like a little chipmunk socking away food for the winter, I took some pics and jotted down the how-to for anyone attempting canning for the first time. It is surprisingly simple and now I’m looking for other things to can because I can’t even believe it took me 30 years to realize that I can save money and still have fresh food in the winter. I purchased a great canning kit, which includes everything you need for a totally reasonable price on Amazon (if you are interested you can check it out here.)

The only other thing you will need are the jars to store your canned goods, which you can get here.

Also, I planted a fall/winter garden with kale for my juicer and garlic again just like last year. The only difference is that this crop is from a home grown garlic head from last season, which is pretty cool. Check out the canning process and my pics. If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer you as best I can, and who knows – maybe I’ll prevent you from getting bitch-slapped by your tomatoes next season. What are you growing? What do you want to grow? Lastly, don’t forget to vote at the very bottom – DIY canning, flunk it or punk it? I punk it.

Canning Peppers from the Home Garden – Recipe and Process

Step 1: Gather a large bunch of fresh hot banana peppers, rinsed and cleaned. Then, slice into rings, and place in a large container with a tight-fitting lid. These will be the pepperoncini.

Step 2: Next, Dissolve 1 ½ cups salt in 4 qt. water. Pour saltwater mixture over peppers and let soak. (I let it sit overnight in the jar with the lid on.) The next day I drained/rinsed the rings under cold water:

Step 3: Next, I got my canning kit out. I had 3 pots going: a small one with boiling water, to sterilize the lids of the jars (this is step is a must); a medium pot, with the vinegar, horseradish mixture, (recipe below), and my large stockpot filled with boiling water (the sealed jars will go here last and must be fully immersed in the water.) You can see my rack. No, not that rack you pervert. My canning rack, that came with my canning kit. But hey, made ya look. I labeled each pot for you for easy reference:

The actual jars were first run through the dishwasher, and then will be sanitized in the large pot. Instructions to follow. But first…

Recipe for vinegar mixture:

Combine 10 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp. horseradish and ¼ cup sugar in a large saucepan. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: In the meantime, place your jars in the canning bath for at least 10 minutes (as shown in large pot) once out of the dishwasher. Leave jars in water until ready for packing.

Step 5: Once the jars were clean, I removed them from the sanitizing pot using a pair of tongs and began filling them with my banana pepper rings:

The process here was easy. Fill the jars with the pepper rings leaving 1/4 inch space between the peppers and the top of the jars; add a few ladle-fulls of the vinegar mixture (again leaving that space at the top,) then wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean rag or paper towel, add the lids and screw on the rings of the jars (don’t make them super tight.) Repeat this process until you are out of peppers and your jars are full.

Step 6: Next, place them in the canning rack in the large pot and submerge them into the water and allow to boil or “process” for 10 minutes. (I don’t have a picture of this, mainly because at this point there were kids at my door stealing candy and beating each other with the “severed foot” that my mother in law sent us in the mail. Don’t worry, it was Halloween, if you missed that part earlier, and the foot was actually fake. Moving on.)

Step 7: Once your jars have been processed, remove them with your jar lifter (included in the canning kit), tighten the lids with the jar tightener (also included in the kit) and place them on a dish towel to allow them to cool. Slowly but surely you will begin to hear “pop!” one by one from your jars – this is good, it means they are sealing. You can tell they have been sealed when you notice that the lids on top are slightly sunken in :

I also canned my red hot cherry peppers the same way – the only difference is that I left them whole.

Once finished, store jars in a cool, dark place (pantry is ideal).

Here’s the pics of our fall garden – we are growing kale, brussel sprouts and broccoli (good luck to me):

And a sneak-peek at the frozen meals I made out of the bell peppers and poblano peppers:

We ate some fresh that night and froze the rest. Did you not believe me when I said I was on a muthaf$%^*$ TEAR?? It sounds silly maybe but my mind is blown that I have at least 3 meals worth of these just sitting in my freezer to enjoy this winter. So worth it.

So, what do you think about canning your own peppers: flunk it, or punk it? Vote below! And tell us why in the comments.

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This is really great Ali! I am so glad I finally got to see the entire canning process in front of me. I have always wanted to try canning but always felt a little intimidated and now seeing what you did I can’t believe I have waited so long! Your veggies look beautiful by the way, so colorful just like the jars. Where are you going to store the jars and do you know how long the jars/cans last for each item? Just curious. Also, do you think I still have time to plant a winter garden? Great post as always!!

Rula! Thanks! About canning, I was really intimidated too – it seemed like a lot at first. But I swear it is not and once you get going you will be looking for things to can. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to try. I’m going to store them in our pantry – it is awesome that I have these jars to break open in the winter – can’t wait! It is late for a Fall garden here (mine went in the ground a few weeks ago,) but my garlic only went in the ground yesterday. I think it you want to plant at least some garlic you will be fine if you do it now (you harvest in July.) But for a winter garden, I am not positive…

Hey Ali, thanks so much for the beautiful and delicious canned peppers and pesto sauce…yum!! You are the sweetest! I’ll try the garden in spring I guess (that’s what I said last spring haha) but I really want to get it going. I have it right in the ground though and the problem with that is that you have to till it pretty deep to get it so that you don’t have to till again the year after. But I might just get someone to come and do it for me early spring once and for all. Thanks again for the tips and the canned goodies and the advice!

You can do it!! With the soil here it is tough right in the ground, I know. Did you ever think about a raised bed? I learned that doing so could be better because it keeps the soil nice and warm, especially for Fall growing.

what kind og red peppers you preserve? wanna buy seeds !!

katrin_182 I used red hot cherry peppers, mainly because they were small. I got mine at Lowe’s garden center!

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