So what to do? What to do?
My crazy, like minded friends on the Back Yard Chickens site, luckily, had JUST posted a recipe for Cowboy Candy. A cooked sugar syrup infused and swimming with Jalapeño peppers. Not only can you use the peppers as toppings or in salads in their own right, but you can use the syrup they are drenched in as a grilling glaze! Be still my drooling taste buds!
I donned my two pairs of disposable gloves and kept repeating my mantra to myself, "don't rub your eyes. Don't rub your eyes!" Not that it is common practice for me to groom myself while canning, but it is inevitable when you CAN'T scratch, you need to.
The first task was to remove the stem. I simply cut off the top 1/4 inch of pepper and tossed the stem end into the compost bucket. I then sliced the rest of the pepper into 1/4 inch slices and tossed them into my 6 qt mixing bowl.
When all the peppers were sliced, I had the brilliant idea to rinse my peppers with cold water to float the stray seeds and centers and let them flow down the drain. Have you ever been exposed to tear gas, or pepper spray? Ya. It was that bad. The water mist carried with it microscopic droplets of capsaicin. You know, the stuff that makes a pepper HOT. The stuff they use in pepper spray and BEAR repellant. Good GLORY! If I was a bear, ya ok me before 7am, I'd run for the hills. Suddenly my sinus' started POURING (remember you can't touch ANYTHING with pepper hands). My eyes watered to the point of being unable to see. I started sneezing uncontrollably! And yet, I still HAD to turn off the water and drain the pepper!
I turned my head as far as I could from the food, drained the liquid from the bowl, slammed it on the counter, stripped off my gloves, grabbed the dish towel, and bolted from the kitchen towards the fresh air on the back deck. I was quite the sight. I sneezed and blew my nose for almost 5 minutes. So my point? Maybe if you have asthma, this isn't the project for you! LOL.
Did I mention I stripped off the gloves? YUP, I didn't wash my hands first. Pepper oil all up both wrists from touching them with the exterior of the gloves. They burned for two days, like raw acid. I'm just saying, be careful when you play with fire!
The recipe is simple. And because it is high in acid, it is a water bath canning process.
Cowboy Candy3-5 pounds of fresh, firm, jalapeño peppers, washed
2 cups of cider vinegar
6 cups of white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon of celery seed
3 teaspoons of granulated garlic
1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the peppers. Simply slice the end 1/4 inch off the stem end and discard.
Slice the peppers into uniform 1/4 inch slices and set aside.
In a large heavy pot, bring the cider vinegar, white sugar, numeric, celery see, garlic, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the pepper Slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the pepper slices from the hot syrup and transfer them into sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.
Turn the heat back up under the syrup pot and bring it up to a full rolling boil.
Using a ladle and funnel, pour the syrup into the jars over the pepper slices. Check, and release, any trapped air bubbles with a chopstick or thin knife. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel, and place your two piece canning lids on the jars until they are finger tight.
IF you have left over syrup, can in small jars for meat glaze following the same canning processing instructions.
Place jars into your water bath canner according to its instructions.
Process at under 1,000 feet for 10 minutes for half pints, 15 minutes for pints. Add 5 minutes for each size over 1,000 Ft-2,000 ft.
After removing from the canner, let sit, undisturbed for 24 hours.
When fully cooled, wash jars, label, and store.
Allow to mellow for at least 2 weeks before using, but preferably a month.