Monday, November 5, 2012

Spicy Love: "Cowboy Candy" Sweet Jalapeno Pickles

3# of fresh jalapenos make the "candy"

I love spicy food. I love sweet food.  The perfect marriage of the two, in my humble opinion, is "Cowboy Candy" or sweet pickled jalapenos.  The original recipe called for cayenne pepper, but I substituted the subtle smoky flavor of Chipotle instead; and I added mustard seeds.  I like it.  I am new to canning and preserving and an enjoying the journey very much!

 "Cowboy Candy" Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno Pickles


The Yield: I got seven half-pint jars and five 4oz jars of pickles plus one half-pint of additional jalapeno syrup.  Hoard the syrup as it is delicious on grilled meats and as a glaze during cooking.

  • 3 pounds fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground Chipotle pepper
The first thing I do is sterilize my jars and lids... it's easy and just part of the "process" I am learning, and it is very important in order to preserve the peppers. Bacteria is not your friend in this case, so be sure you carefully sterilize your implements.

I usually have no problem handling peppers.  But I had a VERY TINY little scratch on my finger and these bad boys set me on fire; so you might want to wear gloves.   Remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers by slicing off of the stem-end along with the stem.  Discard the stems. Slice the peppers into 1/8-1/4 inch slices.  Set aside.

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large, stainless steel pot.

Add the cider vinegar to the dry ingredients and bring to a boil.  Simmer for FIVE minutes.

Add the jalapenos and simmer for FOUR MINUTES.  Longer and they get overdone and too soft. Less and the peppers do not give up enough of their juices.

The setup: no cumbersome cookbook: this was all done online!

Fill the jars leaving 1/4" headspace for expansion during the water bath preservation process.

I strain the remaining syrup and return it to the pot. It needs a hard boil for SIX MINUTES.  Once done, ladle the hot syrup into the jars (remember: HEADSPACE. Don't fill too full!)  Use a stainless skewer or cooking chopstick and poke a few times in each jar to release any trapped air.

One of the bonuses of the whole process is the extra syrup.  It is spicy sweet and subtly hot. Use it to brush on chicken or chops or shrimp and grill.  It's wonderful.  Process this just as you do the pickles.

Water Processing the pickles.

Wipe the rims with a damp cloth and place the sterilized lids on the top. Add the rings and finger tighten them.  Place in the canning pot, cover with hot water with 2" water over the top.  Bring the water to a boil and process for 10 minutes for half pint jars, 15 minutes for pint sized jars.

Carefully remove the jars to a cooling rack and wait for it.. wait for it..... PING!  As they cool, the tops "SNAP!" and you can hear them.  This tells you they are sealed.  Let them cool for a full 24 hours before you remove the rings, wipe off excess water, replace the rings and label the spoils.  

Let these mellow for a week or two before you chow down (if you can wait that long!)  They get better in my opinion after you open them and then store in the fridge. The spicy, sweet hot and cold are awesome.  They are delicious on a sandwich, or some goat cheese on a flatbread with a crisp white wine.  Delicious.


  1. These sound wonderful! Gonna have to try them soon - have lots of peppers in the garden. I do wonder about putting the jars in the canning pot and then bringing it to a boil? I have always brought the water to a boil and then add the jars - I thought they would get overcooked if they sat in the water while bringing it to a boil? No? They do look delicious and I will be trying them! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. I slightly undercook the peppers to make sure they don't get soggy. I pack them in HOT jars while they are hot and then immerse in the hot water left over from sterilizing the jars. Then I bring it to a boil. I may just be lucky, but in all the canning I've done I have only had one jar that didn't seal! Good luck!

      PS: If you like a nice martini, keep the extra juice for a little something special! -m

  2. After you add the peppers do you bring it back to a simmer or just start the 4 mintues?

  3. Very nicely written and really like your photos. (Hearing some jars pop as I write this)
    Very easy recipe. Tastes real good now. Looking forward to trying it after they rest a couple of weeks. Thanks again for all the photos and details

  4. I made this last season with fresh onions and garlic so it was like a relish. It was absolutely delicious!


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