For those that enjoy spicy foods, hot pepper relish is real treat. You can use it to top hot dogs, burgers, bagels with cream cheese, omelets or scrambled eggs, or even pizza. You can add it to dips and spreads or use it to spice up your favorite sandwich or bean dish. While you can buy hot pepper relish at any grocery store, nothing beats homemade. You can also save money by canning your own hot pepper relish when peppers are in season.
To can hot pepper relish, you need a water bath canner or a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. The pot must be large enough that when canning jars sit upright in the pot, one inch of water covers the top of the jars. You need a rack to hold the jars in the canner, although if you don’t have a rack, you can substitute a folded dish towel in the bottom of the pot. You need a jar lifter, a device for gripping jars to remove them from the boiling water. Of course, you also need pint-sized canning jars, lids, and rings. A ladle and a funnel will make filling the jars easier.
Sterilize your jars, lids, and rings by boiling them in a large pot of water or by simply running them though your dishwasher. Place the rack in the bottom of your water bath canner or, if you are using a dish towel instead, fold it and place it in the bottom of the pot. Preheat the water in your water bath canner or big pot to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. While preheating the water and waiting for the jars to sterilize, prepare your hot pepper relish according to the recipe of your choice.
Water Bath Canning Technique
Fill the jars with hot pepper relish while they are still hot. Make sure no food gets on the rims of the jars, as that can interfere with proper sealing. Leave one inch of room at the top of the jars. Put lids and rings on the jars.
Use the jar lifter to carefully lift the jars into the water bath canner or large pot. Make sure you don’t tilt them at all because that can cause food or liquid to get under the sealing area of the lid. Place the jars in the canner so that they are standing upright and are not touching each other.
Bring the water to a boil, place the lid on the pot, and boil for 10 minutes. Add more boiling water to the canner if necessary so that one inch of water covers the tops of the jars at all times.
Turn off heat under the canner and allow jars to sit for five minutes. Use the jar lifter to remove jars from the hot water. Place them upright on a dish towel, leaving at least one inch of space between jars, and allow them to rest undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Then remove the rings from the jars, label jars, and store them in a cool, dark place.
Wear gloves while dicing hot peppers for your relish to keep hot juices off your hands. Otherwise, if you accidentally rub your eye, it will hurt! Use extreme care lifting jars in and out of hot water. If a jar does not appear to have sealed properly, refrigerate contents and use relish within a week or two.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html. Using Boiling Water Canners.