Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)
I’ll admit it. Jalapeno peppers intimidate me. It’s not so much the heat of eating them, as the pain of working with them. Jalapenos make me wheeze and cough. My eyes water. My fingers burn. Whatever my fingers touch burns.

I had a huge bowl of jalapenos sit on my kitchen counter for four weeks because I was afraid of them. They just sat there taunting me. I can’t stay away; they are just so delicious. It’s like avoiding my workout DVD’s because I know they are going to hurt me, but I keep going back for more. No pain, no gain!

Jalapeno peppers can range from mild-hot and get their heat from something unique to peppers called “capsaicin.” It is concentrated in the membrane around the seeds. Scraping the seeds and membrane out of the peppers will give you a much more mild result.

Here are some tips for working with jalapeno (or any hot) peppers:
Wear disposable (plastic, latex) gloves. I always used to feel really silly doing this. Now I just feel really smart. Use a food processor (Amazon) to slice or chop the peppers. Less contact is a good thing. Work outside. An outdoor grill works great for roasting peppers. Just cut the stems off (remove seeds, if desired) and pile them on a hot grill, turning as they blacken and blister. You can leave them whole or chop them up and store them in sandwich bags in the freezer. They are perfect to add to any Mexican dish, similar (but way better) to the cans of diced green chiles you can buy at the store. You can also take your food processor or cutting board outside, if you are working with large quantities of peppers. Fresh air helps! Use a Jalapeno Corer (Amazon) to remove seeds. This allows you to work faster and keep the peppers whole. Cutting them in half and scraping with a spoon also works. Drink milk. If you eat a hot pepper and your mouth is a raging inferno, drink milk not water to calm things down.
Add your tips in the comments section!

Back in May I planted four jalapeno plants, thinking they would give me enough to make salsa and a few random extras. I picked about six pounds every two weeks. It seemed like every time I turned around more were ripe and ready. I’d estimate they produced around 60 pounds total. I froze two gallon sized bags of whole jalapenos, canned homemade salsa, made a big batch of Jalapeno Poppers, and gave a bunch away. These plants just wouldn’t stop.

On Sunday, I picked another six pounds. Ack! I knew if I froze them, we wouldn’t use them so it was time for a new plan.

My sister & mom had made Cowboy Candy in the past and sent me the recipe. You slice the jalapenos, add a bunch of vinegar, sugar, and spices and let the magic happen. The jalapenos give the syrup a nice kick. The syrup gives the jalapenos a sweet, tangy flavor and chewy texture.

Serve it as an appetizer with cheese and crackers or with hamburgers or sandwiches. Sprinkle some on top of pasta or pizza or nachos. In other words, eat these on everything. This recipe will give you quite a bit of extra syrup. Don’t throw it out! I separated it into four storage bags and froze it to use as a meat marinade down the road.

And this was seriously the easiest and best way to work with jalapenos. The whole process took me about an hour. I worked through a lot of issues on this recipe. I used a knife to cut the stems off but let my food processor handle all the slicing. It was so fast and easy. (The Tasty Kitchen method of cutting the peppers by hand makes for a more uniform look, but I’m a big believer in avoiding pain whenever possible.) If you don’t want as much heat, feel free to remove the seeds from all or some of the peppers.

I doubled the original recipe to accommodate the number of half pint jars I could fit in my canner (total of eleven — I canned ten and kept one in the fridge.) These jars of peppers could also be kept in the refrigerator if you don’t want to can them.

Whether your pepper plants are still producing or you want to pick some up (Still in season! Check your local farmers market or produce section.), make some Cowboy Candy. This will be a delicious addition to your pantry through the winter or a great gift around the holidays.

Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)
doubled from a Tasty Kitchen recipe
Yield: 10-11 half pints

6 lbs. jalapeno peppers
4 c. apple cider vinegar
12 c. sugar
1 t. turmeric
1 t. celery seed
6 t. granulated garlic
2 t. ground cayenne pepper
Wearing gloves, cut off the jalapeno stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. Discard the stems. Using a knife or food processor, slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4″ rounds. Set aside. In a large pot, bring the apple cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers into sterile canning jars, 1/4″ from the top. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Using a ladle, carefully pour the hot syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Push a chopstick or plastic utensil (Amazon) along the insides of the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Adjust the level of the syrup/peppers, if necessary, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp towel and screw on two-piece lids finger tight. To can, place the hot jars in a canner (Amazon) and cover with water by 2″. Bring the water to a full rolling boil and process for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. Transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Let them cool & seal. Give the peppers 2 weeks-a month to mellow before opening.
 If you are new to canning, start with our introduction posts:
Canning for Beginners: FAQ’s Water Bath Canning Equipment Water Bath Canning Guide

Would Onion Goggles (Amazon) elevate me to a whole new level of crazy in the kitchen? I actually know people who use these and rave about them. The Amazon reviews are positive. People love Onion Goggles! Have you ever seen/used these?

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