Last summer I ended up with a glut of jalepeños, and not knowing what to do with them, I decided to pickle them. I’ve never been a big jalepeño eater, and I didn’t really have high expectations for them. I thought they might very well end up as forgotten pickles, but in the end they were quite a hit. When I visited my brother Dave a few months ago, I found him jealously hoarding the brine in the jar long after the last pickle slice had been consumed. My sister Meg has placed a special order for 4 pints this year. We like to put these on tacos, quesadillas, or eggs and grits, or to chop them up and add them to salsas and tomato salads.
Jalepeños are generally considered to be on the mild end of the chile spectrum, but these pickles were insanely hot last year. I recommend tasting a sliver when you’re cutting them up. If they are very spicy, you’ll probably want to remove all or most of the seeds, but if they are mild you can leave the seeds in to make the pickles hotter. You can also substitute any other kind of fresh chiles, or a mix of hot and sweet peppers.
adapted from the Pickled Chili Peppers recipe in Put ‘em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
2 pounds jalepeños, sliced crosswise into rings (seeded or not seeded depending in how hot they are)
3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
Pack the jalepeño slices into clean pint jars leaving at least 1/2 inch headspace . Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and honey or sugar in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, immediately turn off the heat. Ladle the vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Make sure the jalepeño slices are completely covered and that there are no big air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims and screw on the lids. Process 15 minutes in water bath canner. If you don’t want to water bath process them, you can just refrigerate them, where they should keep for about a month.
Makes about 4 pints.