Cowboy Candy (candied jalapeno peppers)

I first learned of Cowboy Candy watching a Living Traditions Homestead video on YouTube. It looked like something we'd like, so I copied the recipe, which is by the way, from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The book isn't "complete," but it is a really good resource. I made a batch of Cowboy Candy last summer and now I'm hooked on the stuff! 

3 lbs sliced jalapeƱos
2 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp celery seed
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper

This recipe made six, 12-ounce jars. I used the 3/4 pint jars just because I had them empty. I could have just as easily used the more familiar 8-ounce jars. Both size jars process for fifteen minutes. 

I also used Tattler brand lids, a product I'm using more frequently this year. Tattler and Harvest Guard lids are the same but I think Tattler is the parent company. I use the Tattlers for projects like Cowboy Candy but I'm still using Ball lids for protein canning. If I still have sealed jars with Tattler lids in two years, I'll probably switch one-hundred percent to Tattlers. I like that the lids are a one-time investment and you can then re-use them indefinitely. 

Making the Cowboy Candy is easy. This is how I do it, but you should get a copy of the Ball Book and follow their guidelines for your first few batches. 

And here's where I go a little "rebel" in that I don't remove the peppers and then re-add the peppers to the syrup when it comes back up to a boil. My goal is 1) to par-cook the jalapenos and 2) to have the syrup hot when it goes into the prepared jars. 
Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices in a large pan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once boiling, add the jalapenos and let them cook for four to five minutes. 

Reduce heat to reduce the boil and spoon the peppers into prepared jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Bring the syrup back up to a boil. This happens very quickly. Ladle hot liquid over the peppers leaving 1/4 inch headspace. You may have some syrup left over, and it can be stored in the refrigerator for a short while

Use a wooden tool to de-bubble the jars. Removing any bubbles is critical to having a safe product so do it! Will you get each and every bubble? Probably not, but do your very best. Air bubbles are sneaky things. Check and adjust headspace keeping to the 1/4 inch necessary for the expansion of contents that occurs during processing. 

Wipe jar rims with a clean paper towel dipped in white vinegar, Place lids and rings according to directions for the type lid being used. Process in a water bath for fifteen minutes. Remove jars according to protocols. 

If you are new to canning, I recommend you go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation and bookmark the page. Not only do they have recipes, but they have a lot of information on why we need to follow the process and what food is not safe to can, and why. Be familiar with the WHY before you start canning. You want to have a safe food product when you're finished. 

And that's the way it happens at Holly Tree Manor.

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