I’m not going to pretend to be a canning pro. If you’re looking for advice on that, please look elsewhere. For me, canning is a problem solver and, this early in the game, an experiment. I have more homegrown vegetables than I know what to do with! We should all have such problems, right? But, more specifically, I have more jalapenos than we can possibly eat.
Unlike the cherry tomatoes they pop in their mouthes passing through the kitchen, the kids aren’t reaching for the jalapenos. My husband, however, is a different story. You say “hot pepper” and he starts salivating much like I do when I hear “chocolate.” He’s a heat addict and until recently, would eat them like one would a banana. His tolerance blows my mind and I grew the jalapenos just for him.
The problem is, his stomach no longer much cares for them and I need to eliminate the tempation without totally throwing them away. Jalapeno jelly seemed like a great solution, except I don’t know a thing about canning. But everyone starts somewhere and my somewhere began at Menards, then Ace Hardware, then Stock and Field where I found the canning aisles at all locations picked clean of every last canning supply.
I guess when Covid-19 hit, everyone hoarded toilet paper and canning supplies. I’m still curious if they all actually knew how to can, or just figured they’d grab everything they could since the Apocalypse was imminent. At least it felt that way, in which case I was a little late to the parade and learning how to can was the least of my worries. I’m just glad I had the good sense to grow lamb’s ear in case there’s another run on toilet paper.
Finally, Walmart had jars and a canning pot complete with a rack. Armed with a simple jalapeno jelly recipe, this canning whim was officially a thing. And it all went well until I shared a jar with my mom yesterday who expressed her eagerness to try it. Prompted by my recent canning experiment, she related some sobering family lore.
Her dad’s family was from the South and had some experience putting up homegrown produce. I’m guessing the incident occurred in the early 1900’s, but a distant relative canned a bunch of homegrown green beans that ultimately killed the entire family. Most likely, they were poisoned by foodborne botulism, a rare but deadly illness caused by improperly prepared home-canned vegetables.
And now I’m wondering about my jalapeno jelly, going over every last detail of the water bath canning process to reassure myself that I did it right. I’m confident I did and yet I’m suddenly pondering mortality. Jelly doesn’t often inspire such deep thinking, does it?