Monday, September 22, 2008


Years ago when the kids were small, I canned quite a bit... mostly peaches, tomato sauce and salsa. I would buy culls from the local packing houses and spend days putting up fruit for the winter. Fruits and tomatoes are apparently all highly acidic and so require only a water bath to insure a safe storage life. Today I canned peppers...Anaheim peppers...that I use in salsa and enchiladas (as well as this really yummy chili cheese appetizer that my Mom discovered:) The garden is continuing to wind down and every day I try to dig up and amend another area for future winter garden usage. Today it was some of the peppers, the mildly hot ones....we leave the sweet bells in the dirt as long as possible because we want to eat every last one of them.

Ok, so it turns out that because peppers are not highly acidic they require a pressure canning process to insure the higher temperature that is needed to kill the botulism bacteria. I have never used a pressure cooker my life. Tho my Mom did, quite often. I remember many an evening coming home to the sizzle and rocking of the weight on top of the cooker letting out steam. But I never quite got it, and frankly these contraptions have always frightened me. I see the bomb potential in misusing them and tho I finally do get it (when you increase pressure while keeping volume constant the temperature goes up) I remain just seems to be a perfect
I Love Lucy episode...another misadventure in the kitchen.

BUT... I am determined to master this fear and learn to preserve more of our garden bounty. Our little freezer simply can't handle any more stuff but we have plenty of pantry space.
So this post is less a recipe for home canning than a glimpse into what might be a future ptomaine poison outbreak in the Garver house. Time will tell.

I blackened peppers under the broiler for about 5 minutes each side. Then I stuck them in a paper bag for about 15 minutes to make the peeling easier....peeled and de-seeded.

While the peppers were steaming in the bag, I realized that the pint jars I had bought at the grocery store were much too big for the amount of peppers I had and for the recipes I would be preparing in the future. So I walked down to the local hardware store and bought a dozen half pint jars.

I layered the peppers into the 4 jars (after sterilizing) and then filled with boiling water up to 1" from top. I thought the whole head space issue wouldn't leave much room for peppers but they seemed to pack in there pretty well and they are such adorable little jars.

I placed these in the pressure cooker that I borrowed from my Mom. Tho not the same one I grew up with (I think she actually wore that one out :) it was new...and safe.....I'm sure of it (China has the highest safety standards....correct?)

Here's a shot of my gerry-rigged rack system (hey, the rack kit sells for $29....eek!). I made it from a pie crust protector and one of those beer-can-up-a-chicken cooker thingies (don't ask) that I cut in half.

After closing the lid, turning up the heat to high and letting the steam escape for 10 minutes, I closed the valve, turned down the heat, and let it go (and prayed that I wouldn't be scraping pepper pieces off my ceiling). 35 minutes intact, I turned off the heat and waited. No way was I going near that pot until it is completely cooled off...what a whus.

So, here are my 4 cute little jars of roasted peppers. I am strangely proud of myself right about now; 6 months from now when we are all retching in the ER after an enchilada supper, I may feel differently. Today, I am smiling.


Julie said...

I'm impressed! I'm so very scared of the pressure MIL had horrible burns on her hand from one of those suckers about two years ago.

Maureen said...

thanks for that little story I'm really scared!!!

...maybe it was beginners luck :)

diane said...

I also canned my roasted red peppers this year. But I didn't do it in a pressure cooker. I did the roasting and peeling and all that jazz the same as you, but I canned them the same way I canned my tomatoes -

Am I going to die?!

Maureen said...

Only if you eat them :)

Maureen said...

Seriously Diane... this is what I read....the temperature of the water needs to get up to almost 30 degrees higher than the normal boiling point of water bath canners. I would definitely advise caution.