Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saving Money by Canning and Pickling

 Over the weekend, during Hurricane Irene, I took some time to do something I've been meaning to do for a while- pickle peppers!

As many of you know, I planted a garden this year. I recently wrote an update on it here. One of my favorite foods is jalapeno peppers and I normally buy them at the store for around $3 a jar. If I have a coupon or they are on sale, I might get a better deal, but I go through about a jar a month. So, this year I planted two of my own jalapeno pepper plants and one banana pepper plant. I was amazed at how much these little plants grew and produced! They grew so easily and apparently the more you pick them, the more they grow! I placed them in a flower bed at the front of my house and as a bonus, they have added color and beauty to our yard. Had I known how well they grow I would have planted more and I certainly will next year.

So, the day before the hurricane hit, I had my son go out and pick all the peppers. He picked probably 25-30. I already had jars from the Ball jar company (they give out coupons each summer and I got them on sale at Harris Teeter). I had vinegar, water and sugar, which is all you need. I had never done this before so I looked up a video on Youtube to guide me through the process. Here it is below:

I followed all the steps, which I will list at the bottom of the post. It was easier than I thought and when I finished, I had a whole jar full of peppers! I was too thrilled. I have to wait a week before they are ready for eating, but I want to show you the finished product:

I can't wait to add these to some tacos! Another bonus is that each pepper has tons of seeds inside, so I look forward to saving some of them to plant next year. I only had two plants and will probably be able to pick enough peppers for at least one more jar, possibly two. I get excited thinking about how much I will save next year by planting more pepper plants, enough for at least 12 jars.

I chose to pickle these peppers, but you could can almost any fruit or veggie to preserve it to use later, so keep that in mind as well. Tomatoes are a great example of something you could can to use in recipes later on. The directions for canning are a little different from pickling and I think it's slightly more work to can veggies, but if you have a bountiful harvest, I think the effort is worth it.

If you aren't into peppers, here are some other veggies that pickle- cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage and carrots. I have heard you can pickle pretty much anything, provided you like the pickled flavor!

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