How to pickle chili peppers properly

Need to figure out a way to preserve a whole heap of chili peppers before they become compost fodder for next year’s crop?

We totally understand that.

Over at Mad Dog HQ, we don’t like to let a single chili pepper go to waste. And, we’ve been known to use just about every preserving method known to make sure we’ve got a constant store of super-hot chili peppers just waiting to be devoured at a moment’s notice.

One of our favorite way to extend the life of fresh chili peppers is by pickling them. Sometimes we even go the extra step of canning them if we really have a lot on hand. It lengthens their shelf life and offers deliciously pickled chilies, ready to go for any emergency.

Not sure if you’re up to the task? Just take a look.

A quick and easy guide to chili pepper pickling

For one jar of pickled chilies, you’ll need:
• Roughly 20 chilies (varies according to their size)
• Boiling water
• 1 cup each: white wine vinegar, water (yes, another cup)
• ¼ cup sugar
• 4-6 sliced garlic cloves
• 1 tbsp mustard seeds
• a few cranks of black pepper

First, place your chilies in a clean jar and pour the boiling water over to sterilize the jar and the chilies. Allow this to sit while you mix the remaining ingredients in a saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat and allow it to boil. Drain the water from the jar and pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the top. Screw the lid on as quickly as you can and turn upsidedown to seal the lid on. Allow the jar to cool on the counter, then store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

See, super easy. And, if you’ve got the chilies on hand, then you’ve probably got everything you need to pickle your peppers.

Canning isn't dead (and it's hotter than you think)

Now, if you want to get really serious about pickling chili peppers, you’ll need to invest in some canning equipment. At the very least, you’ll want to pick up a pair of canning tongs and you’ll need to decide which jars make you the happiest. (Ball is a popular choice, though the German-made Weck jars offer a lot of versatility.)

This where things get a little more complicated (but don’t let that stop you). You’ll need to look for a chili pepper pickling recipe that’s specific to your canning jars - at least until you get the hang of it.

That’s because canned food isn’t safe if it’s not done correctly. So, stick to the recipe and make sure you have a white vinegar with 5% acidity. You really want to make sure of this because this is what keeps your chilies safe to eat months after you’ve prepared them.

But, once you’ve found that perfect recipe, guard it with your life, you’ll find yourself reaching for it regularly.

This is how to store your pickled peppers safely

If you’ve opted for the simple, straightforward pickling recipe, your chilies will keep for a month or two in the fridge. Once you’ve opened the jar, you’ve got a week or two to enjoy them. (Don’t worry, they’ll go faster than that.)

When you’ve gone all-in for the proper canning method, you can expect your chili peppers to last up to a year on a cool dark shelf. Isn’t that marvelous?

And now that you know, what are you waiting for?

If you just wish it were easier, don’t worry, it can be. We don’t sell pickled chili peppers, but we do have the world’s hottest hot sauces. And, that’s way easier. Just a few drops are all you need to take any meal to the next level.

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