Green chili peppers add a spicy kick to everything you cook, from tacos to curries. To preserve your freshly-picked green chilis to use throughout the year, can them at home. Unless you pickle them, you'll need to use a pressure canner for these spicy peppers because they're a low-acid food. A pressure canner can reach much higher temperatures than a boiling-water canner. These super-hot temperatures prevent harmful bacteria, like the deadly Clostridium botulinum -- which is the cause of botulism -- from ruining your canned peppers.
Prior to handling your green chili peppers, put on rubber gloves. These spicy little fruits contain lots of capsaicin, which can burn your skin. Choose crisp, fresh green chili peppers to can. Discard any soft, moldy or bruised peppers. For best results, choose smaller peppers, around an inch or so in size, because larger peppers tend to be tough. Wash the peppers under running water to remove any debris.
Green chili peppers have tough, fibrous skin, so you need to remove it. Cut small slits in each pepper. Loosen the skin by cooking the peppers in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the skin blisters, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool the peppers in a pot covered with a damp towel to keep them moist. Wearing gloves, peel off the skin with your fingers and remove any stubborn skin with a vegetable peeler. Discard the stems and seeds.
Use half-pint or pint-sized canning jars to preserve your peppers. Prepare your jars and lids by washing them in the dishwasher. You can also hand wash them and heat the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes to sanitize them. Fill the jars with the peeled peppers. Boil some water and pour it over the peppers, leaving an inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint of peppers for flavor, if desired. Wipe the jar rims and cover the jars with lids and rings.
Fill a pressure canner with 2 to 3 inches of water. Stack your cans on the canner's jar rack and cover the canner. Heat it on high with the vent open to allow steam to escape for 10 minutes. Close the vent and allow the canner to come to 15 pounds of pressure. Process the peppers at this constant pressure for 35 minutes. If the pressure drops, bring it back to 15 pounds and start the timing process again.
Allow the pressure canner to cool and depressurize. Remove the cans with a jar lifter and place them on towels to cool for 24 hours. Once properly sealed, store them in your pantry for up to one year. Reprocess improperly sealed jars or refrigerate them. According to New Mexico State University, once open or unsealed, peppers will last up to four days in the refrigerator at 40 F or below. If any of your jars look or smell spoiled when you open them, boil them for 30 minutes to kill any possible botulism-causing bacteria before you discard them, recommends the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- New Mexico State University: Canning Green Chile
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables -- Peppers
- University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Peppers
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Botulism
- International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: Capsaicin Level of Various Capsicum Fruits