Unfancy Pickled Jalapeno Peppers


In the springtime, I approach food preservation as if it were an act of art. My jams are fussed over, with plenty of thought given to size of my fruit dice and maceration times. My pickles are packed into jars with great precision and accuracy. That time of year, I’m simply delighted to be anticipating the coming abundance.

Come August, my elevated aspirations are gone. I can to get it done, to get those bits of summer into their respective jars before the season is gone and I’m left with the potatoes, storage squash and kale of winter (I’m a big fan of all those vegetables, but they don’t excite me the way a peach does). And so my many acts of preservation become a bit frenzied and as easy as I can make them.

halved jalapenos

Take the jalapeno peppers I pickled recently. I bought a pound when we were in New York a few weeks ago because I wanted to bring back some little bit of the Union Square Green Market. The berries were too fragile and I didn’t see any garlic that was clean enough for my suitcase. Jalapenos are sturdy little guys and so I knew they’d withstand the rigors of the MegaBus. Plus a pound cost a mere $3, which I believe is the perfect price point for an edible souvenir.

When I got them home, I washed and halved them (please do get yourself some gloves to wear when dealing with hot peppers. I gave myself a humdinger of a capsaicin burn this time around), packed them into jars and topped them with a very basic brine.

jalapenos in a jar

I didn’t spice my brine at all, because I wasn’t trying to create an artisinal condiment or a pickle to be eaten on its own. I’ll use these peppers throughout the year as an ingredient in things and so I want the flavors of the peppers to remain clear and identifiable. Several will join various batches of salsa and most the rest will spice up pots of turkey chili.

The reason I like this kind of utilitarian canning is that by investing $3 and 35 minutes of effort, I’ve created something that will fill a kitchen need all year round. It breaks no culinary ground, but fills me with joy nonetheless. It also doesn’t hurt to know that I have something to turn to come January when my taste buds are in desperate need of revival.

Very Basic Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

Yield: Approximately 2 1/2 Pints


  • 1 pound of jalapeno peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt


  1. Pack clean, hot jars with peppers. Pour hot brine over top. Bubble your jars thoroughly by tapping them firmly on the countertop and using a wooden chopstick to release any stubborn bubbles. Wipe rims, apply lids and bands.
  2. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Store in cool, dark place for up to a year.


This technique can be used for just about any small, hot pepper. Measurements are for 1 pound of peppers and yield approximately 2 1/2 pints. Recipe can be doubled.


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156 responses to “Unfancy Pickled Jalapeno Peppers”

      • Jalapenos are mostly air on the inside, a lot of air. They are little life-preservers. If Dustin Hoffman had grown them in his garden on Devil’s Island, then Steve McQueen could have built an escape raft with them. If you want to pickle them whole, and you can, and I do, then you have to find a way to get the air out of them as they pickle. I pickle mine naturally in a salt water brine. I think jalapenos taste much better with lactic acid versus acetic (vinegar). With natural fermentation, you have to put a weight over the veggies anyway. I also cut a cross in the pointy end and two small slits at the crown with a sharp knife before placing them in the brine. Over time, with the weight on them, and slits, the air eventually bubbles out and is replaced by the pickling brine. Result: delicious, crunchy, pickled, whole jalapenos. When mine are done pickling, I can just put them in jars in the fridge for 6-8 months, but they rarely last that long. The boiling water process used here will lose most of the crunch, but you can still do it with a weight holding the whole peppers under the vinegar brine. I recommend glass weights. You can retain some crunch with boiling water processing by adding some calcium chloride to the vinegar brine.

  1. Most other pepper brines use a much higher ratio of vinegar to water than this recipe. Can you disclose where this ratio/recipe came from?

    Would this recipe work for banana peppers?

    • According to this pH chart, peppers typically have a pH of between 5.20-5.93. That is a similar range to cucumbers. Cucumbers are safely preserved using this brine ratio and so peppers can be as well.

      Any pepper that has a similar pH range can be safely canned using this recipe.

  2. Question — I’m looking to make escabeche, with jalapenos, carrots and onions. Would this brine ratio work for that, or what would you recommend? Thank you!

  3. I just used this, more or less, for unripe tabasco (green and yellow) peppers. Due to the late frost in the midwest, I had a 2 qtof peppers on the bush tha t were going to freeze. I pricked them with a pin. A couple of jars got garlic slices. I put some leftovers in sterile baby food jars in the fridge for give aways

  4. HI! Has anyone tried roasting and peeling their jalapenos (or other peppers) before pickling and processing in boiling water? I usually freeze my roasted chiles but I’m just wondering if this wonderfully simple recipe would work with roasted peppers. If not, I am definitely still going to try this recipe. My jalapenos usually end up on pizza or in salsa so I like to keep it simple. thanks!

  5. In your book it says to process for 5 minutes, here it says to process for 10 minutes. Is it dangerous to under-process in the water bath?

  6. How much does pepper acidity vary? Could I use this recipe with bell peppers? Or could I substitute bell pepper for the poblano pepper in your Green Tomato Salsa recipe (Preserving by the Pint)? (As you may surmise, I have some extra bells I’d like to use up.)

  7. Is there a safe amount of sugar to add in order to balance out the heat? I’ve used a recipe in the past that I really like the flavor of but I’m finding that the flesh of the peppers doesn’t maintain throughout the year. They end up turning to mush after about 6-9 months. They’re sliced as rings and I’m wondering if just slicing them in half lengthwise would help. But I love the dynamic of the sweet and heat combo.

    • Any amount of sugar would be safe to add. Sugar never impacts the safety. And you’re right. The fewer cuts, the better they hold their texture.

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