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Canning and pickling foods is a good way for individuals to preserve harvests for later use. Chillies are a popular candidates for such preservation techniques and pickling chillies is a delicious and effective way to preserve these spicy peppers. Certain tricks and techniques apply to the process of pickling any food, but when pickling chillies a few additional considerations should be kept in mind for the best possible result.
The first thing to remember when pickling chillies or any other foods is that a clean, sanitized work area is paramount. All jars and lids must be washed and sanitized and so should all utensils, cutting boards, and the like. This helps to limit bacterial growth, which can spoil the canned food, and can be potentially dangerous, leading to food poisoning. Submerging the jars in boiling water for an hour or so just before use is a good method. The lids are another matter and should not be immersed in boiling water as it can damage the rubber seals, but in water that is just below the boiling point.
Select only the highest quality and freshest possible foods for pickling. When pickling chilies or any other food, select chillies with good color and lacking blemishes or any kind of rotten spots. Shape is not particularly important as some chilies may grow in unusual shapes or forms. Check for insect damage also and discard any chillies with visible insect damage. Do not use chillies that are limp or dried out, and carefully wash all chillies to remove any dirt or other foreign matter.
Canning of any kind should only be done using tried and tested recipes that include proper processing techniques. These recipes have been proven safe when followed closely. Changing the amount of any of the ingredients can compromise the safety of the finished product. Certain things can be changed, such as substituting different types of chillies, but ingredients like the liquids, salt, and sugar, if used must not be altered. Processing times must also be adhered to strictly.
Most recipes for pickling chillies will include specific instructions for how to prepare the peppers themselves. If the instructions lack such specifics, remembering a few things will improve your chances of success. When pickling whole chilies, the stems may be removed if desired, but this is not mandatory. Whole chilies should be pierced or slit down the side to allow the pickling liquid to penetrate to the inside of the pepper. Try to pickle chillies of a similar size in each jar rather than mixing chillies of widely differing sizes.
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