Hot cherry peppers are an excellent candidate for pickling and canning. The peppers maintain their bright red color and spiciness even after the pickling process, but also gain the distinctive flavor that pickling gives to foods. You can add other flavorings to the pickled peppers if you wish--garlic, pepper, bay leaves and oregano all work well with these peppers. After canning your peppers properly, you can store them in your cupboard for almost a year.
Things You'll Need
5 pint-sized canning jars with rings and lids
Large pot, optional
2 lbs. hot cherry peppers
4 to 5 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 to 4 tbsp. sugar
1 1/3 tsp. salt
Garlic cloves (optional)
Water bath canner (optional)
Sterilize your canning jars, rings and lids by boiling them in a large pot for at least 10 minutes (make sure they are completely submerged) or by running them through the "Sanitize" cycle on your dishwasher.
Rinse the cherry peppers thoroughly under cool running water, removing any visible dirt or debris. Trim the stem from each pepper with a small, sharp knife. You do not need to actually remove the stem; simply cut it down to a manageable size.
Place the peppers into your sterilized jars. They should fill the jars most of the way, but don't forcibly stuff them inside.
Put the vinegar, water, sugar, salt into a saucepan. You can use anywhere from 1 to 4 tbsp. of sugar; decide based on your preference for the final flavor of your peppers. Bring these ingredients to a gentle simmer and allow them to cook until the sugar and salt completely dissolve. Meanwhile, add spices and garlic cloves to each jar, if you wish. Add only about half a teaspoon of ground spices or whole black peppercorns, one whole bay leaf, and/or two garlic cloves (whole or halved) to each jar.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the ingredients in each jar. Leave approximately 1/4 inch of air at the top of each jar. Wipe the rim of each jar with a paper towel, then put the lids and rings on the jars.
Process the jars in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. You should do this with a water bath canner if possible. If not, fill a large pot with hot water, add the jars (which should be standing upright and fully submerged), cover, and bring the water to a boil for at least 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the hot water, allow them to cool, then check the seal by pressing on the top of each jar with a finger. If the top is slightly inverted and does not give when you press on it, the jar is properly sealed. Store properly sealed jars for several weeks before you eat the peppers.