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14 April 2014

Learn how to can your chili peppers using the boiling water method so you can preserve your pepper harvest and enjoy your chili peppers for much longer.

So you’ve got a huge chili pepper harvest and you want to preserve your peppers by canning them. No problem! Canning Peppers is a great way to preserve your chili peppers, but you have to do so safely. The information below will help you safely can your peppers.

Canning your chili peppers properly is essential for safety. 

Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

How to Can Chili Peppers

Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes. See this post on How to Stop the Chili Pepper Burn.

Wash the peppers. If you are leaving smaller peppers whole, poke a few slits into the skins to let the brine through. Quarter or rough chop larger peppers. Remove the cores and seeds. Blanch the peppers in boiling water or blister them with heat in order to peel, if you desire. I often can my peppers without blanching, but some people report that the skins can get tough.

How to Blister Peppers for Canning

Oven or broiler method: Place peppers in a hot oven (400ºF) or broiler for 6-8 minutes or until the skins blister up. Remove from heat, cool them slightly, then peel away the blistered skins. You can also transfer the blistered peppers into sealable bags or cover with paper towels to let them steam up, which will help to loosen the skins.

Range-top method: Cover your hot burner, either gas or electric, with a heavy wire mesh. Place the peppers over the burner for several minutes until skins blister, flipping here and there. Do not let the pepper flesh turn white. Cool and peel off the skin.

Fill the jars with the peppers, leaving 1/2-inch head space.

Boil the remaining ingredients (vinegar, water, salt, sugar). You want a good, steady boil.

Pour the hot pickling solution over peppers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in the table below.

 Recommended process time for Pickled Chili Peppers in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Raw Pints 10 min 15 20

More Information on Canning Peppers

Quantity: An average of 9 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 25 pounds and yields 20 to 30 pints – an average of 1 pound per pint.

Quality: Do not use soft or diseased peppers.

If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Using a Pressure Canner

 Recommended process time for Peppers in a dial-gauge pressure canner.
  Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 2,000 ft 2,001 – 4,000 ft 4,001 – 6,000 ft 6,001 – 8,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 35 min 11 lb 12 lb 13 lb 14 lb


 Recommended process time for Peppers in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
  Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 35 min 10 lb 15 lb

This document was adapted from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning,” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2015.

Canning Pickled Chili Peppers

Pickling peppers is yet another method of preserving them, and is particularly good for those who don’t want to shell out the dough for a pressure canner.

With pickling, there’s no need for a lot of fancy equipment, though, obviously, pickling peppers will change the taste of peppers more than pressure canning will. But there’s a reason why pickling is so popular – the flavor change is delicious. Read on to find out how to create your very own peck of pickled peppers.

See my Guide to Pickling Peppers for more information and recipes.

This works for any peppers, from spicy red peppers to sweet peppers to mild bell peppers and anything in between.

Pickled Peppers

Note: Be sure to store them in a cool, dark place after pickling.


  • Ball Jars
  • Tongs/something to handle hot jars with
  • Funnel
  • Large pot
  • 6-8 ounce pot/saucepan
  • Skillet (if removing pepper skins)
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Canner (or an extremely, EXTREMELY large pot)


  • Chili Peppers (approximately 8 pounds – this’ll get you about 9 pints of pickled peppers)
  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons canning/pickling salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


First, ensure that the peppers you’re about to can are crisp and fresh. If the peppers don’t look good as is, they’ll be worse after pickling. Discard any peppers that look spotty or diseased. Additionally, smaller peppers tend to work better for pickling.

If the peppers you’re pickling are hot (which they probably are), it’s best to wear gloves while handling them, unless you want an up close and personal reason why pepper spray hurts. The traditional pickled pepper jar features both sweet and hot peppers, but this is your process – pick the peck of pickles you prefer.

Be sure to wash your jars and lids before use. You should not boil your canning jar lids.  Boiling the lids can damage the sealing compound which can cause jars not to seal or the seals to fail during storage. To prepare the lids, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, remove from the heat, and add the lids.

Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before using to soften the sealing compound. The lids should be kept in hot water until ready to use so the compound will be soft and conform to the top of the jar, creating a tight seal. Rings should not be boiled before use as this can promote rust. The rings should be simply washed and dried.

Next, wash your peppers. If you prefer your peppers sliced you can slice them up and remove the seeds and cores. If you prefer them whole, that’s fine too.

In general, it’s a good idea to remove the skin of your peppers – otherwise the skin may become tough. The best way to skin a pepper is by “blistering” it – heat up a skillet to medium hot and put your peppers in skin-side down. Soon the skin will turn black and start to blister – hence the name of the process – and then it will peel off easily.

You can also bake the chili peppers on a baking dish for 15-20 minutes until they blister. Be sure to let the peppers cool before handling them after blistering. Once they’re cool, place them in a pan and cover with a damp cloth or placed them in a sealed plastic bag to steam. This makes the skins come right off when you pull at them.

If you have trouble, try running them under cool water or even attacking the harder-to-get-to places with a vegetable peeler.

If you don’t mind the skins, there is a way to can those also, but the process is a little different. If you are processing with the skins on, be sure to follow the additional notations on the page.

Once you’ve got your peppers cleaned and prepared, fill your large pot with water and wait until it gets to a rolling boil.

Prep your canning pot by installing the rack and filling it with about 4 inches of hot water from the tap. (Obviously, if the directions for your particular canner are different, follow those.) Put it on the range and fire up the heat to low.

For the moment, leave the lid off.  In the event that you are using a regular large pot in lieu of one that is specifically meant for canning, it’s fine if there is no rack for the cans, but it will make it easier if there is one, simply for handling purposes. You’re ready to can.


Make more room on the range for your smaller saucepan. Here, combine the vinegar, water, canning/pickling salt, and sugar. Let mixture simmer for 10 minutes.

Fill your jars with peppers, but be sure to leave 1 inch between the top of the jar and the lid. This is called “headspace,” and will allow the contents to expand during processing. Be sure to pack the peppers into the pint jars as full as you can without infiltrating the headspace.

Once your jar is full of peppers, use a ladle and the funnel to fill your jar with the vinegar solution you created earlier.  Be sure to leave ½ inch of space between the vinegar solution and the top of the jar. The pickling solution should always come to the top of the peppers in the jar, just covering them.

For pickles, the USDA standard is packing peppers into sterilized jars leaving ½ inch headspace between the liquid and the top of the jar. If you leave too much headspace, there will be too much air for a strong vacuum to form during the process, causing the jar to seal improperly or fail.

When jars are full, place lids on jars and screw on – but not as tightly as you can. Make sure it’s snug, but you don’t have to power jerk the lids on.

Arrange the jars in your canning pot – make sure there is at least 1 inch of space between each jar and its neighbor. Once jars are arranged, fill the canning pot using a ladle until the water reaches 1 inch over the tops of the jars. Use the boiling water in your other pot to fill the canning pot, but be careful not to pour boiling water on the tops of the jars! Pour the water between the jars until they are submerged.

Once a rolling boil is reached within the canning pot, set a timer for 10 minutes, if your kitchen is 1,000 feet or fewer above sea level. For those 1,000 through 6,000 feet above, boil your peppers for 15 minutes, and if you are above 6,000 feet, boil for 20.

Remove jars from canner (using tongs: they’re hot) and allow to dry on a towel or cutting board. Make sure that they won’t be disturbed by sudden drafts or something bumping into them.

After they cool, you can check the validity of the seal by pressing the top of the jar: if the top is sucked in, the jar is sealed. If it pops up and down, the jar is not sealed and you’ll need to start over (from the beginning: do NOT reprocess jars that were not sealed by initial canning. Remember, safe is much better than sorry).

Congratulations! You now have pickled peppers.

Note that the above recipe is a basic pickling recipe and that you can include many other spices to achieve new and tasty pickled pepper flavors.

Pickling Spices for your Pickled Chili Pepper Recipes

Pickling spices help give your preserved pickled peppers some additional, multi-dimensional flavor. There are many spice blends available to you, depending on your personal tastes, although some go better in combination with others.

Typically, pickling spices are used whole or coarsely chopped, and include the following:

  • All Spice
  • Bay leaves
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Mustard seeds
  • Peppercorns

There are pre-packaged pickling spice mixes available in many grocery stores as well. See my Pickling Spices recipe for more information.

Caution and Spoilage Prevention

The acidity level in your pickled peppers is important not only for taste and texture, but for safety as well. You should not alter vinegar, food, or water proportions in a pickling recipe or use vinegar with unknown acidity. There must be a minimum, uniform level of acid throughout the mixed product to prevent the growth of botulinum bacteria.

Processing your pickled chili peppers in a boiling water canner will prevent spoilage from microorganisms (particularly molds and yeasts) as well as enzymes that may affect color, flavor, and pepper texture. Standard canning jars and self-sealing lids are recommended.

Store your pickled peppers in a cool, dry place.

Further Pepper Preservation and Information

See below for other information to help you with your chili pepper harvest. There are answers to some of the most common questions I receive on the site.