Our garden is producing about 20 to 30 small to medium sized jalapenos a week and equally as many grape tomatoes. Aside from the onions, those two were the only vegetables we planted this year. Each season we get a little smarter about what we want to plant, based on last year’s success and our realistic ideas of what we can use. Since it is just the two of us, we do not need to plant a crazy large amount of vegetables, and I do not have the time to spend 8 hours each Saturday prepping, boiling and canning everything we grow.
With so many jalapenos growing each week, I have to find creative ways to preserve them. I have pickled them in a traditional vinegar, water, salt and spices brine, and I have pulverized them with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro for a jalapeno relish that is beyond awesome, but I wanted to try something new. Well, technically not new, since the very first canning experiment I ever did with my friend Tamara was with beer pickles, but hey, it’s a different vegetable, mmkay?
Pickling: How It Works
Pickling, if you did not know, is quite the scientific experiment. Think about it for a minute – the canning and preserving process is about storing fruits and vegetables so they can be consumed at a later date, usually no more than one year from canning. ONE YEAR. Fruits and vegetables, no matter how you wrap them up, will not contain their nutrients if not properly preserved. Enter – vinegar.
Vinegar is a strong acid that kills bad bacteria, aka the stuff that makes food go “bad.” Vinegar is essential in pickling, though the variety does not matter as much. White vinegar is by far the strongest tasting and smelling, followed by the milder apple cider vinegar, and even more mild white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. While I use white vinegar for my traditional pickled jalapenos, I used apple cider vinegar here only because I was out of white vinegar.
When I was determining how much beer to add, I simply reviewed my pickled jalapeno recipe and substituted water for beer. In most pickling methods, water is used to dilute the vinegar and give you more brining liquid. By replacing water with beer, the beer can act as a flavoring agent while the vinegar can still do its thing.
There is no sugar in this recipe because of two reasons: sugar, while it can aid in the preservation process, is not essential when you are using salt and vinegar AND I did not want sweet pickled jalapenos. Sure, you could add two tablespoons to the mix and you’re pickled jalapenos will be A-OK. But if you were born sans sweet tooth like myself, then to hell with sugar.
There’s also the whole fermentation thing, which is different than picking and something I do not know much about. These people do, though, so you can read more from them here: http://www.realpickles.com/process.html. Also, if you like fermented goods, the great people at Fermenti Artisan will do the hard work for you and sell you their fermented goods for a reasonable price.
For this recipe, I am using a Founders Centennial IPA, which has the bite of strong hops with a crisp refreshing taste and, in my opinion, the perfect beer for beer pickled jalapenos. I think just about any beer would work, but a stout, porter or dark beer may leave too strong of a flavor behind. That’s what the experimentation process is for, right?
How to Eat Pickled Jalapenos
What can you do with pickled jalapenos? You can certainly top your burgers and hot dogs with them, but add a small amount of spreadable cheese to a cracker and sit a pepper on top for a delicious, spicy afternoon snack. I throw them on pizza, just about any sandwich, chop them up and add them to my Spicy German Potato Salad, or your own potato salad, or even tuna salad! The list goes on!
Beer Pickled Jalapeños
Makes 2 Pints
- 30 jalapeno peppers
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- One 12-oz (1 1/2 cups) India Pale Ale style beer
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- 2 teaspoons coriander seed
Begin by putting on a pair of gloves to cut the jalapeno peppers with. Slice the tops off of the peppers and discard. Slice the peppers into 1/4 inch thick rounds, leaving the seeds intact. Repeat for all 30 peppers.
In a small saucepan, heat the apple cider vinegar, beer and kosher salt over medium high heat until salt dissolves. Simmer over low heat.
If you are NOT canning: Mix all of the spices together and evenly distribute amongst your jars. Stuff the sliced jalapeno peppers into the jars, then pour the brine on top, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Secure with lids and place in the refrigerator at least overnight before serving, allowing time for the spices, vinegar, and beer to permeate the jalapeno peppers.
If you ARE canning: Bring a large stock pot of water with a canning rack to boil over high heat. Once boiling, place the jars into the water and let boil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a small pot of water to simmer and place the lids and rims into it, simmering for 5 minutes.
Remove the jars, lids, and rims. Evenly distribute the pickling spices into each jar, then stuff with jalapenos. Pour the brine on top, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars dry along with the lids and rims. Place the lids on top and secure the rims only until fingertip tight.
Place the jars back in the large boiling pot of water and let boil for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Store in a dark, dry place until serving.