About tropical Indiana summers and pickling chillies

Since about 4 years, I have been living in north-west-central Indiana. Sadly, Indiana is sometimes known in the US as a “fly-over” state, basically meaning that it is not worthwhile to visit Indiana. We may not have spectacular mountains or a beautiful coastline in Indiana, but one thing we do have – in addition to amazingly friendly people – is space. Lots and lots of space. Perhaps not surprisingly, we therefore also have very active master gardener associations and lots of community gardens.

One crop that grows amazingly well here are chillies! Summer temperatures in Indiana are quite tropical and chili plants absolutely thrive here. I am pretty passionate about growing chillies, especially growing Thai dragon chillies. I can’t wait to make another batch of Thai chili powder in about 6 weeks or so.

Spring 2018 arrived late and lasted about 2 weeks before the weather transitioned to summer. May was hot and dry. June hot and humid. Nothing could have pleased my chili plants more and therefore they produced an abundant early harvest. Yesterday, I harvested the first lot (see photo) and made the first batch of pickled chillies. I cheated a bit in taking the photo :). I added cayenne peppers to the photo just for color. They are actually being dried to be processed into ground cayenne pepper.

To make pickled chillies, you need vinegar, salt, sugar, mason jars, and metal mason jar lids. You will also need a non-reactive large pan and a plastic funnel.

Ingredients:

5-6 cups sliced chillies
6 cups vinegar
3 TBS salt
3 TBS sugar

Preparation:

Start of by sterilizing the mason jars (I rinse them with water and place them for 5 minutes in the microwave). Place lids in hot (not boiling) water together with the funnel and other tools you may use.

Put on some plastic gloves (important!). Thoroughly wash the chillies, cut off end and any imperfect spots. Cut in thin slices.

Add vinegar to a non reactive saucepan together with salt and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. Add sliced chillies and stir well. Bring back to a rolling boil for 2-3 minutes.

Place your mason jars on a clean kitchen towel. Fill mason jars with boiled chillies (I use a spoon to compact them in the jars. Top off with boiling vinegar. Leave about 1/2 inch of headspace. Place on lids and tighten.

Let the jars cool down: you should hear that wonderful “pop” sound as the jars seal. Once the jars have cooled, add a label or write the content and date on the lid.

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