Monday, June 24, 2019

Candied Jalapeños aka Cowboy Candy

  Even though I'm not really a spicy food kinda guy, lately I've been kind of in the mood to push my own flavor boundaries and turn up the heat just a bit. In my neverending search for new and fun things to preserve in jars, I discovered these little gems of sweet-hotness that are absolutely amazing and delicious on EVERYTHING. I mean, yes, you can serve them on crackers with a schmear of cream cheese, but seriously, they're great on sandwiches, salads, you name it. They're sweet and syrupy, the spice is definitely there, and the pepper flavor is just as present. And the addition of the cayenne pepper gives it a slow burn that I just love in a sweet heat. I found the recipe on a blog called Foodie with Family, and I followed it EXACTLY to the letter. I know. I know. It's crazy that I didn't tweak it somewhere along the lines which is my usual MO, but for me, hot peppers are kind of uncharted territory, so I stuck with the plan and didn't stray from the path. I'm pretty thrilled with how they turned out! And I happened to find a few RED ones, so I added a slice or two to each jar for a little pop of color. I'm thinking this the current front runner for holiday gift giving this year.
They're just that good! Boom.

3 pounds fresh firm, jalapeno peppers, washed 
2 cups cider vinegar 
6 cups white granulated sugar 
1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon celery seed 
3 teaspoons granulated garlic 
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

 Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers, and discard. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside. In a large pot, bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile, hot canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes, (which means a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred away). Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
Place jars in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth.  For best flavor, allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating.

-This recipe makes quite a bit of syrup compared to the amount of jalapenos. The original recipe suggested canning the extra syrup in jars because it's so yummy brushed on meats or anything you grill, but even after doing that, there was still quite a bit. So I just used it to make a batch of candied Habaneros! If you plan to double the recipe, (and you definitely should!) don't double the syrup ingredients. You'll have plenty!
-Instead of using a food processor or mandoline, I chose to slice the peppers by hand. Yes, that's a little tedious, but I wanted to make sure they were all perfect little rings that were the perfect thickness. The food processor and mandoline weren't helping me to that end. You don't want the slices to be too thin, otherwise they'll just turn to mush. Oh, and definitely wear gloves and take care not to touch your eyes or any other part of your body. Oof.
-If you're not interested in preserving them in sealed jars, just follow the recipe up until you fill up your jars, then just keep them in the fridge. They'll keep up to 3 months.

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