Jalapeño Bread and Butter Pickles

My friend Peg recently gave me some sweet pickled jalapeño chili peppers that she made using my bread and butter pickle recipe and oh my gosh, I couldn’t stop eating them. So of course I had to make my own batch the very next day. Ay caramba they are good, and oddly not as spicy as you would expect. Certainly not as hot as my regular jalapeño pickles. Just a little bit hot. Perky hot. And sweet and crunchy the way a bread and butter pickle should be.

That said, the road to these pickled beauties was rather bumpy. Silly me, I thought given that I have been handling jalapeños my whole life I was immune to them and didn’t need to wear gloves when I stripped them of their flaming hot seeds and ribs.

Hah! No I didn’t touch my eyes (thank God) but my hands were burning hot for several hours. Only soaking them in yogurt with ice cubes helped. My mistake? Washing my hands in hot soapy water before and during the processing of the peppers. This washed away the natural oils in the skin that protect the pores.

The lesson learned? Wear gloves, or plastic baggies, when scraping the seeds out of the peppers. If you absolutely must use your bare hands, rub your hands with a little vegetable oil to protect your pores while working with the peppers. Then when you’re done, wash thoroughly in hot soapy water.

Jalapeño Bread and Butter Pickles

Back to the sweet jalapeño pickles. They’re delightful. Please don’t let my tale of woe scare you away from making them. As long as you take precautions, you will be fine (don’t touch your eyes!) They’re delicious in a taco, on a burger, or as I love them, straight up out of the jar.

They’ll easily last a year (or two) in the fridge. I find the heat of the chiles tends to mellow over time, so if they’re too hot when you first make them, just hide them in a corner of your refrigerator for a year and try them again.

  • Prep: 4 hours, 20 minutes
  • Cook: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 quarts.

I highly recommend that you wear protective gloves while cutting and de-seeding the jalapeños. If you don't have gloves, you can protect your hands with plastic baggies. If you must handle the cut peppers with your bare hands, rub a little vegetable oil over your hands first. The oil will provide your pores with some protection. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water after handling the peppers. Do not touch your eyes for several hours.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs jalapeño chile peppers
  • 1 pound white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt (can use Kosher salt or sea salt as a substitute, regular table salt has additives in it that will darken your pickles and make the color of the pickle juice muddy)
  • 1 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 clean 1-quart canning jars, or 4 pint jars

Method

1 Cut the stem end off of the jalapeños. Then cut them in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds and the ribs. Place the peppers in a large bowl. Add the onions and stir in the pickling salt so that it is well distributed. Cover the peppers with a clean, thin towel. Put ice over the towel and place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for at 4 hours. After 4 hours, rinse the salt off of the peppers and onions. Drain, and rinse and drain again.

2 In a 4 or 6 quart pot, put the vinegar, sugar, and spices. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the peppers and onions. Bring to a boil again. Watch the peppers. As soon as they are all cooked through (you can tell because their color changes from a vibrant to a more dull green), start packing your canning jars with the peppers and onions, using a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan. Pack the jars evenly with the peppers and onions, up to about an inch from the top of the jars. Then pour the sugary vinegar mixture over the peppers, until it covers them.

3 Cover the jars and let cool to room temperature before chilling in the refrigerator.

If you are planning to store outside of the refrigerator or for an extended period of time, use canning jars. Sterilize your jars and lids first. Wipe the rims of the jars after you pack them with pickles. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. For specific canning instructions, see more detailed instructions on our bread and butter pickle recipe post.

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