Hot Jalapenos Are Not Garbage

Are you a lover of salsa? If so, do you prefer tangy, chunky, a quiet heat that builds or an immediate explosion of burning magma in your mouth?

Of course, you might very well be a connoisseur, meaning that you love and know hundreds of different salsa recipes. Perhaps you even like salsas that are made in New York City! New York City? Get a rope.

All kidding and references to Pace commercials aside, often what can make or break a salsa is the heat in it. And one of the most popular peppers that people use when making salsa is the jalapeno.

So maybe you are one of the many people who grow a jalapeno pepper plant during the summer. If so, you have probably found out that there is no way you can use all of those jalapenos that burst forth from your pepper bush. What do you do? Should you just throw the extra jalapenos away?

Not a chance. You have several options for how to store jalapenos.

Option one for storing jalapenos is to freeze them. You will want to wash them, but leave the stems on. Then allow them to dry completely. Next, get a good freezer storage bag and fill it with jalapenos and pop the bag in your freezer. The jalapenos will freeze well and will be easy to separate when you have need for one.

Another option for freezing is to slice the jalapeno peppers. This works fine and makes it even quicker to get some usable jalapenos from the freezer. However, the bits will stick to each other a little more this way, but not so much that it’s a problem.

In addition to freezing, you can also dry jalapenos. The spicy heat is a little more concentrated in dried jalapenos, so you will want to take care when using them in salsa, chili or something else. To dry jalapenos, your best bet is to use a dehydrator. Depending on the dehydrator you use, it could take up to 24 hours or more to complete the drying process. Remember to wash them well before drying jalapenos.

When your jalapenos are dried, you can bag them and put them in the pantry or fridge. You can also make a string of them by using some light twine and tying a tight loop around each pepper’s stem. You can then hang the jalapeno string somewhere attractive.

A third and final option for storing jalapenos is to pickle them. For this, you will need a good recipe for pickling brine. And the truth is that the best pickling brine recipe is the simplest: Fill your jar to about 2 inches below the top with water. Mix in some pickling salt. Place a clean egg in the jar. Slowly add salt and mix until the egg floats.

That’s it.

Oh, remove the egg after it floats.

When you’ve got a jar full of pickling brine, add cleaned jalapenos and pack them fairly tightly. Then just leave them in your fridge for a while. The jalapenos will be pickled inside of about a week.

One very important tip to keep in mind when working with jalapenos is to either wear powder-free, non-latex gloves or to just wash your hands with warm water and soap often. The oils on the outside of jalapenos are pretty strong and if you rub your eye or some other sensitive part of your body before washing the oils off, you will experience painful burning.

So avoid the burning and enjoy your stored jalapenos year-round.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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