Originating in Mexico, the jalapeno pepper is a chili pepper that produces a burning hot oral sensation when consumed. From the genus “Capsicum,” this pepper is frequently harvested from the Papaloapan River area in Veracruz or the Delicias, Chihuahua region of Mexico. Canning jalapeno peppers is commonly performed to preserve large quantities of the spicy fruit for later use. The process typically involves washing the peppers, soaking them in lime water, and storing the peppers in a brine solution. The most important tips for the canning process involve the consistent observation of procedural safety.
Gloves are generally worn to protect the skin from irritants while canning jalapeno peppers. Raw peppers can cause extreme irritation to the eyes and bare skin. The burning sensation is due to a unique compound called capsaicin that is contained in the membrane around the pepper’s seeds. If the jalapenos do come in direct contact with the skin, the hands and affected areas need to be washed thoroughly to remove the irritants. Special precautions should be taken to ensure the pepper and its juices do not come near the eyes.
When canning jalapeno peppers, the fruit should be washed thoroughly, sliced and subsequently soaked in lime water to help preserve the firmness of the fruit. The lime water solution is comprised of 1.5 gallons (5.68 liters) of water and 1.5 cups (375 ml) of pickling lime powder. Inhalation of the lime dust should be avoided; it can incite extreme irritation within the respiratory system. If the dust is inhaled, the affected party should be moved to fresh air and medical attention should be sought.
After soaking the peppers for approximately 18 hours, the fruit should be immersed in cold water for one hour and then drained. This process is repeated three times while canning jalapeno peppers. It is important to remove any remaining lime solution. Lime water can cause burning and irritation to the gastrointestinal tract if ingested. After rinsing, the peppers are drained to remove excess moisture and then seasoned with herbs and spices.
The process for canning jalapeno peppers is completed by inserting the prepared fruit into sterilized canning jars or containers and covering it with a brining solution. The boiled brine contains vinegar, water and canning salt, and the jars are sterilized by submerging them in boiling water for five minutes or more. All air bubbles must be removed before the lids are applied to safely seal the fruit for later use. Following the lid application, the jars must be immersed in a hot water bath to complete the sealing process. Improper sealing while canning jalapeno peppers can allow the introduction of harmful bacteria and jeopardize safe consumption of the canned fruit.