Bell Peppers

Preserving peppers, whether they are sweet peppers or hot peppers is a good way to store excess produce from the garden. By preserving your own peppers, you will be able to avoid the high cost of purchasing peppers, saving on your grocery budget at the same time. This cold-pack method of preserving food uses a water bath canner to seal and process the jars.

Select firm fresh peppers of any type. Do not use limp or soft peppers or peppers that have bad spots on them. Always wear gloves when handling hot peppers as the juice may burn your hands. Wash the peppers and set to the side.

Place the jars, rings and lids in the dishwasher and run through a regular cycle. If you do not have a dishwasher, place the jars in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars. Turn the heat off, remove the jars with the jar grabber and place the jars on a towel on the counter to cool. Fill the water bath canner halfway with water and heat to boiling. If you are not ready to add the jars when it starts to boil, turn the heat down.

Let the jars cool and then pack the fresh peppers into the jars with the tip of the pepper pointing down. Trim any long stems from the peppers. Pack as many peppers as you can into the jars because when you add the hot juice and seal the jars, the peppers will shrink. Continue packing all the peppers you have into the jars in this step. Add 1/2 tsp. salt to each jar.

Add the vinegar, water, sugar and garlic to a pan and heat to boiling. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place the jar funnel on top of a jar and ladle the hot juice over the peppers, leaving a half-inch of headspace in the jars. As a guideline, fill the jars just to the threads. Work quickly and fill each jar with the liquid. Wipe the rims of each jar with the wet cloth, place a lid on top of the jar and then the ring and tighten down tightly.

Add the jars to the water bath canner and boil for 15 minutes. Remove the jars and set on the counter to cool. When the jars are cool, press the center of the lid with your fingertip. If the center stays depressed, the jars are sealed and can be stored in the pantry for up to one year. If the center pops back, these jars are not sealed and will need to be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 3 weeks.