Canning Peppers (Water Bath Method)

The process of canning peppers can seem deceptively intimidating. Many recipes for canning peppers call for a pressure canner, and at-home canners can be turned off by the need for specialized equipment. 

An easy alternative is pickling peppers in a vinegar-based brine. Brines serve the dual purpose of killing bacteria (1) and adding flavor to canned vegetables of all varieties, with peppers being an ideal choice for new picklers. Based on recipes from several food-preservation authorities, the brine below has been selected as a perfect introduction to pickling and a delicious way to preserve peppers at home. 

What You Need

  • Large stock pot with lid
  • Wire rack (with handles) that fits inside your pot
  • Saucepan
  • Large bowl
  • Baking sheets
  • Pint-size canning jars with canning lids and rings
  • Jar lifter
  • Chopsticks or similar utensil
  • Ladle
  • Canning funnel (optional)
  • Knife
  • Clean kitchen towels
  • Rubber gloves (optional, use for handling hot peppers)
  • Water
  • 7 pounds bell peppers (yields 9 pints)
  • 3 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 cups distilled 5% white vinegar
  • 9 cloves garlic
  • 4 ½ tsp canning or pickling salt

The list above includes a large stockpot with a lid and a metal rack in lieu of a water bath canner. If you have a water bath canner, it can be substituted for the pot and rack.

The list above includes a large stockpot with a lid and a metal rack in lieu of a water bath canner. If you have a water bath canner, it can be substituted for the pot and rack.

How To Can Peppers Without a Pressure Cooker

1. Sterilize your jars

Jars and lids must be properly sterilized and free of chips and cracks. If you’re new to canning, The Spruce Eats (2) provides comprehensive instructions on properly sterilizing jars and lids. Jars and canning rings can be reused, but metal canning lids must be new. It may be tempting, from both a cost and sustainability standpoint, to reuse old lids. But it is imperative that you use new lids, and specifically canning lids every time you process canned goods. 

If you’re dedicated to zero-waste canning, invest in reusable glass canning lids, which are designed specifically to be safe for multiple canning processes.

how to can bell peppers in sterilized jars

2. Prepare your peppers

Preheat an oven or broiler to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius). Wash your peppers as you would if you were using them for cooking. Snap off the stems and slice your peppers into quarters. Remove the cores and seeds of the peppers, then cut the peppers into strips, or flatten the quarters.

Pro-Tip: If you can hot peppers, you can increase the heat of your final product by leaving some seeds inside the peppers. Make sure you wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers, and never touch your face without washing your hands first!

 Prep Your Peppers

3. Remove the skins

Pepper skins become tough and unpleasant when canned. Blistering the peppers will make removing the skins easy. Make 2-4 small slits in your slices and place the peppers in the oven for 6-8 minutes. While the peppers are in the oven, fill a large bowl with cold water.

To remove the skins, place the blistered peppers in the prepared bowl of water to cool. The skins should slip off easily once the peppers come down to room temperature.

For more help, French Cooking Academy offers a full video on the process of removing skins from bell peppers.

Peeling Off Skins of peppers

4. Make the brine

In a saucepan, boil water, vinegar, and sugar for one minute (3). Add the pepper strips and keep the mixture boiling. Place a clove of garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt into each of your pint jars.

 Make The Brine

5. Fill the jars

Add the sliced peppers to the jars. Using a canning funnel if you have one, pour the boiling brine mixture over the packed peppers with a ladle, leaving ½-inch of headspace.

Remove any air bubbles with a chopstick by running it slowly up and down the interior of the filled jar, then wipe down the outside with a clean, damp cloth before placing the lid and screwing on the canning band.

Pro Tip – If you don’t have leftover chopsticks from previous takeout orders, reusable chopsticks can be purchased almost anywhere you would buy cutlery.

 Fill The Jars

6. Start the Boiling Water Bath 

Fill your stockpot or canner halfway with water and preheat to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 Celsius). Once the water comes to temperature, place your filled jars on the metal rack and lower into the water. If needed, add water to the pot until it is an inch above the tops of the jars (4).

Cover the pot and slowly bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the temperature to maintain gentle rolling bubbles. Your jars should not be rattling or jostling in the pot.

Start The Boiling Water Bath

7. Process the Canned Peppers

Keep the jars in the boiling water for at least 5 minutes. The exact processing time will change depending on the altitude at which you’re canning the peppers. If you don’t know your elevation above sea-level, you can use WhatAltitude.com to determine your altitude. 

Altitude0-1000 ft1,001-6000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
Processing time5 minutes10 minutes15 minutes
 Process The Canned Peppers

8. Cool and Store

When your peppers have finished processing, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit for five minutes (removing the jars from the hot water too quickly could cause them to crack). While the pot cools cover a table or countertop with clean kitchen towels and/or wire racks.

Remove the jars one at a time with the jar lifter and place them on the covered counters and allow them cool for 12-24 hours. Do not tighten the jar bands at all during this time. Once the jars have cooled, you can remove the bands, check that the lids are indented, and if they are, it is safe to store the peppers.

If any of your lids did not seal, and the pint jar you used is not defective, replace the lid with a new, clean one and reprocess the peppers.

Pro Tip—label your jars with contents AND the date they were canned. This will help you eat older food before it has time to spoil.

Cool and Store

Final Thoughts

Pickled peppers are long-lasting and flavorful, and a great foray into slightly more complex home canning recipes. The variety of peppers and brines available mean infinite chances to create new and exciting flavors that will last for months. If you’re looking to add some excitement to your canning practice, peppers are a great place to experiment with taste.

Great work on reaching this end of the tutorial on canning peppers! Check out our other canning and preserving guides here where you’ll learn how to can apples, beets, and a whole range of other exciting recipes!

FAQs

This article focuses on canning bell peppers, but any type of pepper can be pickled and/or canned. You can use bell, pimiento, sweet, or hot peppers if they are fresh, crisp, and have no damage or disease. You should adjust your brine recipe to suit your peppers. If, after following this article, you want to can more varieties of pepper, Penn State has several recipes linked below for hot pickled peppers, sweet pickled peppers, and relish that will work with the water-bath canning method described here (4).

Home-canned peppers will last at least 12 months if stored properly, and are safe to eat as long as the lids stay sealed (4). Keep your canned goods in a cool, dry, dark place like a cabinet or closet to maximize their store time. As noted in step 8, make sure your lids have indented before storing, or the peppers will spoil.

As previously noted, this article covers how to can peppers without a pressure cooker, which requires pickling with vinegar. Canning peppers without vinegar requires a pressure canner, and instructions for canning with a pressure canner are available from pickyourown.org (1).

Pickling peppers and pressure canning are not the only options for preserving peppers. Frozen peppers are an easy alternative to canned peppers and can be prepared quickly with these instructions from The Washington Post.

  1. How to Make Your Own Home Canned Peppers (easy, complete directions with photos, ingredients, Hot or Sweet peppers. Retrieved from: https://pickyourown.org/canningpeppers.htm
  2. How to Properly Sterilize Canning Jars. Retrieved from: https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-sterilize-canning-jars-1327595
  3. Preparing and Canning Pickled Vegetables. Retrieved from: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/pickled_bell_peppers.html
  4. Let’s Preserve: Peppers. Retrieved from: https://extension.psu.edu/lets-preserve-peppers
how to can bell pepper in 8 easy steps
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