How are pimentos made?

Contents

Pimento Sweet Peppers: Tips For Growing Pimento Peppers

The name pimento might be a little confusing. For one thing, it’s also sometimes spelled pimiento. Also, pimento sweet pepper’s binomial name is Capsicum annum, a nomenclature that is an umbrella for all the species of sweet and hot peppers. Regardless, if you love peppers, pimento pepper plants make a tasty, as well as ornamental, addition to the garden. So how to grow pimento pepper plants? Read on to learn more.

About Pimento Sweet Peppers

Pimento peppers are small, sweet, heart-shaped peppers that ripen to red in color. They only get to be about 1 ½ inches across and are very mild with a Scoville heat rating of less than 500 units. Pimento stuffed green olives and pimento cheese are two very familiar packaged products found at the grocers that use this type of sweet pepper.

Depending on the variety, plants may become large and bear hundreds of fruit, or they may be smaller, perfect for container gardening.

Like all peppers, growing pimento peppers thrive in hot weather in fertile soil with consistent moisture and a long growing season.

How to Grow Pimento Peppers

Pimento peppers can be grown from seed or transplants.

Seed started plants

For seeds, sow ¼ inch deep in a well-draining starting mix. The seeds

like it hot (between 80-85 F./26-29 C.) so use a heated germination mat. They also love light, so put them in a sunny location with plenty of southern or southwestern exposure and/or provide them with some supplemental artificial light. Start seeds about 8 weeks prior to the last frost of the spring in your area. Seedlings should emerge within six to 12 days.

When the soil has warmed outside (over 60 F./15 C.), set the plants out two to three weeks after the last average frost in your area. Don’t rush getting the plants out in the garden. Temperatures that are too cold or too hot will affect fruit set. Nighttime temps below 60 F. (15 C.) or even above 75 F. (23 C.) may reduce fruit set.

Transplants

To transplant starts, prepare the garden by amending it with a 1-inch layer of compost tilled into the soil about a foot. Choose a sunny area with well-draining soil. If you are using a container, be sure it has drainage holes and that the pots are at least 12 inches deep.

Space plants 18 inches apart in rows that are 30 inches apart. Set the plants slightly deeper than they were growing and firm the soil around the roots. Water transplants in well. Try watering with compost tea, which will provide phosphorus and improve blossoming, hence, fruiting. Plant one plant per 12-inch pot when container gardening.

Caring for Pimento Plants

Lay a 1 inch layer of mulch around the growing pimento plants to retain moisture. Hot, dry wind and dry soil will stress the plants causing them to drop immature fruit or even prevent fruit set. Keep a consistent irrigation schedule during the growing season.

Calcium deficiency causes blossom end rot. The calcium in the soil must be dissolved to make it available to the plant.

Magnesium is also a necessary mineral that enhances pimento growth and production but is often lacking in soils. Use a teaspoonful of Epsom salts mixed into the soil around the plants to boost magnesium levels.

Side dress the plants just as the first fruit sets. Fertilize every two weeks by side dressing, or foliar feed with a diluted liquid organic fertilizer every one to two weeks.

Caring for your pimento plants in this manner, along with some good weather, should bless you with an abundance of these tasty sweet peppers that can be canned, frozen, roasted or dried to be used all year long.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Consider, for a moment, the sweet pepper. No other plant demands so much, gives so little, yet keeps us coming back for more.

Sweet peppers are the coquettes of my garden. I coddle them, dote on their every need, and in return they toss me a few fruits to play with — so few, in fact, that I can barely bring myself to eat them fresh. I preserve almost every one the little minxes give me to eat huddled, alone, in the dead of winter. Or something like that.

Every year I say, “I need to plant more sweet peppers.” Every year I plant a few more. It’s never enough. I could lay waste to everything else in my garden and plant only an array of red bells, piquillos, padrons, pimientos and sweet cherry bombs — and still it would not be enough. It is not possible to have too many sweet peppers. Chiles? Yes, but not sweet peppers.

What’s more, after these princesses deign to drop me a pepper or three, it has become so late in the season that they die soon afterward, our relationship barely consummated. It reminds me of some character in an Edith Wharton novel (And yes, I’ve read several. Blame my mother for that one…)

Disconsolate, I used to count the days until February, when I could start a new set of seeds under hot lights inside; even in birth, sweet peppers need to be the center of attention.

Photo by Hank Shaw

But then, one day, I found a way to cheat death.Yes, it is as simple as a heavy pot, a warm climate, and a quirk of biology.

I live in Northern California, and in my little spot of land, we get a hard frost only once every few years. Light frosts, which are enough to kill a pepper, come no more than a couple dozen times a year in my garden. But in the front of my house, which faces south, those light frosts come less than a dozen times a year, and even in the dead of winter the highs soar past 50°F — warm enough to keep a pepper alive.

But aren’t peppers annuals? No. And that is a dirty secret perpetrated by seed dealers everywhere. The coquettes aren’t eager to die after all, it seems. Only cold kills them. What they want is an even deeper commitment from you the gardener before they willingly give up their fruit. I once had a Thai chile — a Capiscum frutescens, for you pepper freaks out there — that lived five years. Peppers, like most of us, want a long-term relationship.

So I dig up a few of my peppers from the garden every October, pot them up and move them to the front yard, which is such a blast furnace in summer — routinely reaching 110°F — that it would burn most peppers; that’s why I don’t keep them in the front all year long. It works for me. And it would work for anyone who has a sunny window.

Here is a useful video of the process.

My Thai chile lasted in Minnesota until one day even the inner windowsill dropped below 30°F. (Outside it was -19°F, -30°F with the wind.) So it can be done. Once spring returns, you will find your peppers strong and ready to flower early and grow large. And mature peppers bear more fruit.

What to do with that fruit? Well, I’d venture to guess that everyone reading this has a favorite pepper recipe. I have lots on this site. But I also preserve a lot of peppers, less out of fear now than because preserved peppers take on a character totally unlike fresh ones.

My main method to preserve peppers is to roast them over an open fire, then preserve them with a little salt, vinegar and oil. Peppers lack natural acid, so need to be pressure-canned if you aren’t using vinegar or salt.

This way of preserving does a number of things. Roasting kills any enzymes in the peppers that might deteriorate them over time, as well as softening and sweetening the peppers — not to mention getting rid of the indigestible skins. I then dredge the peppers in vinegar to up the acid level and give the peppers more tang. After that I salt them liberally to make things even more stable; salt also adds to the flavor. And finally I cover everything in olive oil to keep air out.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Some tips:

  • Grill your peppers hard, as in blackened. Every sort of pepper has a skin of a different thickness. Try to do this with thick skinned peppers if you can; a thin skin can be a bear to peel off unless it is good and charred. Some thick skinned peppers are bells, Hatch-style chiles, pimientos, and paprika chiles. Poblanos are pretty easy to roast, and jalapenos are OK, but their skins are pretty thin.
  • Steam the roasted peppers for a long time, in a paper bag. Take your time with this step. Walk away and do something else for a while. You’ll thank me. Nothing quite so fun as to be scalded with nuclear-hot pepper juice when you’re trying to peel them.
  • Don’t wash the peppers. You want all that pepper juice you can collect, and running the peppers under water will rob you of that. This is the secret to really, really good roasted peppers.

Those of you in colder climates may be forced to choose which pepper’s charms most attract you, as you may not have space to save every one. And don’t be worried about the pepper dropping leaves in winter; it happens. Just keep it in a sunny spot, protect it from whiteflies, and keep it as warm as you can. It will repay you for your kindnesses next year.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser 4.8 from 15 votes

Preserved Peppers

There are a lot of ways to preserve red peppers. You can pickle them, which is nice, but a little limiting; pickled sweet peppers are good for an appetizer, but little else. Once you roast the peppers, however, things change. Roasted peppers are a delight. I use them as appetizers like the pickled peppers, but also in sauces, stews and simply draped over roasted or grilled meat. This preservation method is inspired by an obscure English book by Nora Carey called Perfect Preserves. Carey uses a hybrid pickling, sott’olio method to keep her peppers delicious through her British winters. I’ve adapted it a little to reflect the hotter California climate. Prep Time45 mins Cook Time35 mins Total Time1 hr 20 mins Course: Appetizer, Condiment, Snack Cuisine: Italian Keyword: chiles, peppers, pickled foods Servings: 16 people Calories: 37kcal Author: Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • 8 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup vinegar (any kind)
  • Kosher salt
  • Canning jars
  • A chopstick or butter knife

Instructions

  • Roast your peppers. Ideally this is over a smoky wood fire, on a grill. Second choice is a gas grill, third an open burner on a stove. Alternatively, arrange your peppers on a broiling pan and broil them. No matter what your heating method, you will need to turn your peppers from time to time as the skins char and blacken. When the peppers are mostly blackened, remove them to a paper grocery bag and roll up the bag to seal in the steam. You want to steam the peppers in their own juices. Let the bag sit for 20 to 40 minutes.
  • After the peppers have cooled enough to handle, take them out one at a time and remove the skins, stems and seeds. Do not run the peppers under water, as this robs them of flavor. Once each pepper is cleaned — get as many seeds out as you can — drop it in a bowl. Do all the peppers before proceeding.
  • Once all the peppers are cleaned and in the bowl, get a shallow bowl or small casserole pan and pour in some vinegar. I use red wine, cider or sherry vinegar for red peppers (sherry when I want them to be Spanish, cider for Portuguese, red wine for Italian or Greek) and white wine for green peppers. Dredge each pepper through the vinegar a few times to get it good and coated. Place it in another bowl. Do this for all the peppers.
  • Sprinkle the bowl of peppers with kosher salt. Gently mix the peppers together like a salad. Sprinkle a little more salt and repeat. Sprinkle a little salt into the bowl with the pepper juice — the original bowl.
  • Gather canning jars and pour a little vinegar into each one; enough to cover the bottom of the jar. Pack in the peppers, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space at the top. Use a butter knife or chopstick to run down the sides of the jars, releasing air bubbles. You will notice the level of liquid drop. Fill it with the salted pepper juice — but still leave room at the top of the jar.
  • Once the air is out to the best of your ability and the vinegar-pepper juice it right at the top of the level of the peppers, pour in olive oil on top of everything to a depth of 1/4 inch. Screw the lids on the jars and you’re done. No sealing needed. These peppers will last a year in the refrigerator, although they will soften over time.

Notes

I find about 8 red bell peppers fills the two pints, but obviously other peppers are of different sizes, so adjust accordingly. Better to have too many — you can eat them as a snack or for dinner that night. These peppers are also integral to my all-time favorite wild game stew, a Spanish recipe called chilindron.

Nutrition

Calories: 37kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1863IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

Pickle Recipes and Preserved Foods

Find more recipes and techniques for preserving the harvest on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook!

How to Make Your Own Home Canned Peppers (easy, complete directions with photos, ingredients, Hot or Sweet peppers

Looking for How to Make Your Own Home Canned Peppers (easy, complete directions with photos, ingredients, Hot or Sweet peppers in 2020? Scroll down this page and follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.

If you have questions or feedback, please let me know! There are affiliate links on this page. Read our disclosure policy to learn more.

Click here for a PDF print version

You think making and canning your own peppers is difficult or expensive? Not at all! The only trick is, you really do need a pressure canner. So, here’s how to can peppers! The directions are complete with instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. In the winter when you open a jar, the peppers will taste MUCH better than any store-bought canned peppers.

You DO need a pressure canner! If you don’t have one, you can still make pickled peppers – see this page. Every university food science department and the government will tell you that it just is not safe to use the water bath bath method; it takes the higher temperatures of the pressure canner to kill the botulism bacteria. BUT, with a pressure canner it’s easy. And although a pressure canner costs $100 to $200 (see this page for pressure canners models, makes and prices), they last a lifetime, and your children and grandchildren may be using it. You can also find free information from the USDA in this PDF file (it will take a while to load!) about selecting and using canners here!

Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of about 12 months, and aside from storing in a cool, dark place, require no special attention.

Directions for Making Canned Peppers

Ingredients

  • Peppers (see step 1)

and Equipment

  • Peppers (see step 1)
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at mall kitchen stores and local “big box” stores, but it’s usually cheaper online from our affiliates)
  • At least 1 large pot
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Ball jars (Publix, Kroger, other grocery stores and some “big box” stores carry them – about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)
  • Salt (optional – I don’t use any)
  • One 6 – 8 quart pot or saucepan
  • 1 Pressure Canner (a large pressure pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars after filling (about $75 to $200 at mall kitchen stores and “big box” stores, but it is cheaper online; see this page for more information). For low acid foods (most vegetables, you can’t use an open water bath canner, it has to be a pressure canner to get the high temperatures to kill the bacteria. If you plan on canning every year, they’re worth the investment.

Recipe and Directions

Step 1 – Selecting the peppers

The most important step! You need peppers that are FRESH and crisp. Limp, old peppers will make nasty tasting canned peppers. Guests will probably throw them at you.. Select filled but tender, firm, crisp peppers. Remove and discard any soft, diseased, spotted and rusty pods. Select small peppers, preferably 1 inch to 1 and 1/4-inch in diameter. Larger peppers are often too fibrous and tough.

Hot pepper 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 hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes. Hot peppers can burn your eyes and skin – ever heard of pepper spray?

How many peppers and where to get them

You can grow your own, pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. An average of 9 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints jars. A bushel of peppers weighs 25 pounds and yields 20 to 30 pints canned; an average of 1 pound per pint

Step 2 – Prepare the jars and pressure canner

Wash the jars and lids

This is a good time to get the jars ready! The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a “sanitize” cycle. Otherwise put the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. I just put the lids in a small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic “lid lifter wand” (available from target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online – see this page) to pull them out.

Get a large pot of water boiling

We will use this water to pour over the peppers and fill each jar with liquid, after we’ve packed them full of peppers. I use the largest pot I have, so that there is plenty of clean, boiling water ready when I need it.

Get the pressure canner heating up

Rinse out your pressure canner, put the rack plate in the bottom, and fill it to a depth of 4 inches with hot tap water. (of course, follow the instruction that came with the canner, if they are different). Put it on the stove over low heat, with the lid OFF of it, just to get it heating up for later on.

Step 3 -Wash the peppers!

I’m sure you can figure out how to rinse the peppers in plain cold or lukewarm water.

Step 4 – Cut up the peppers, remove seeds

Small peppers may be left whole. Large peppers may be quartered. Remove cores and seeds. Slash two or four slits in each pepper

Step 5 – Blister the peppers

Peppers have a skin that turns REALLY tough when you can the peppers, so you’ve got to remove the skin before canning. Fortunately, there is an easy trick to remove the skins. It’s called “blistering”. Just heat up a fry pan to medium hot, and lay the peppers in there skin side down. In just a few minutes, the skin will start bubble up and darken – that’s blistering – once cooled, the skin peels off easily by hand.

You may can them without removing the skin if you don’t mind the skins on; See this page for that recipe.

Here are some other methods for how to blister peppers:

Oven or broiler method: Place peppers in a hot oven or broiler set at 400º to 450ºF (205º to 232ºC) for 6 to 8 minutes; using tongs carefully turn pepper often until skin blisters evenly on all sides.
Stove top method: Place peppers on wire mesh over a hot electric or gas burner; using tongs carefully turn peppers frequently, exposing all surfaces to the heat source until skin blisters evenly on all sides.
Outdoor grill method: Place peppers on a charcoal or gas grill about 5 to 6 inches above glowing coals; using tongs carefully turn peppers frequently (skin side down if they are cut up), exposing all surfaces to the heat source until skin blisters evenly on all sides.

Microwave oven method: Place peppers in a microwave
safe dish; cover with secure air-tight lid to allow
for steam build up. Place container on rotating plate in
the center of the oven, then microwave for 7 to 8 minutes
depending the oven wattage and power level (settings
may vary depending on microwave oven used). The blistering is not visible with this method. However, the skin will have a tougher, more brittle texture compared to the raw pepper. Allow steam to fully develop in the covered container for 1to 2 minutes after microwave cooking. Caution: The hot steam will be released from container when the lid is opened – don’t get burned!

Peeling the Peppers

Allow the peppers to cool by placing them in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. This will make peeling the peppers easier. Then pull the blistered skin off the rest of the pepper with a gentle tug and an occasional rinse with water. In areas of the pepper where the blistering was not complete, just scrape the skin off with a knife or vegetable peeler.

Step 6 – Pack the jars and pour boiling water into each packed jar

Fill jars, leaving 1-inch of headspace. Flatten whole peppers. You may add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar, if desired for taste (it is not a preservative). Fill jars loosely with peppers. Be sure to leave 1 inch of space at the TOP of the jar. That is called “headspace” and is needed for expansion during heading. Use a ladle or pyrex measuring cup to carefully fill each packed jar with water from pot of boiling water. The peppers should be covered and there should still be 1 inch of airspace left in the top of each jar. Be careful not to burn yourself, (or anyone else – children should be kept back during this step!)

Step 7 – Put the lids and rings on

Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly (but not with all your might, just “snug”).

Step 8 – Put the jars in the canner and the lid on the canner (but still vented)

Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner. By now the water level has probably boiled down to 3 inches. If it is lower than that, add more hot tap water to the canner. When all the jars that the canner will hold are in, out on the lid and twist it into place, but leave the weight off (or valve open, if you have that type of pressure canner).

Step 9 – Let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes

Put the heat on high and let the steam escape through the vent for 10 minutes to purge the airspace inside the canner.

Step 10 – Put the weight on and let the pressure build

After 10 minutes of venting, put the weight on and close any openings to allow the pressure to build to 11 pounds.

Step 11 – Process for 35 minutes

If you have a dial-type pressure canner like I do, once the gauge hits 11 pounds, start your timer going – for 35 minutes. Adjust the heat, as needed, to maintain 11 pounds of pressure.

Note: the charts at right will help you determine the right processing time and pressure, if you have a different type of canner, or are above sea level.

It is important to learn how to operate your pressure canner by reading the owner’s manual that came with your particular canner. If you cannot find your owner’s manual, you can obtain find one online: Here is where to find some common manufacturer’s manuals:

  • Presto canner manuals

or by contacting the company that made your canner. Give the model number to the manufacturer, and they will send you the right manual. Click here for more information about pressure canners and a variety of models you can order.

Recommended process time for peppers in a dial-gauge pressure canner.

Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Jar Size Process Time 0 – 2,000 ft 2,001 – 4,000 ft 4,001 – 6,000 ft 6,001 – 8,000 ft
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
Jar Size Process Time 0 – 1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Half-pints or Pints 35 min 10 lb 15 lb

Step 12 – Turn off the heat and let it cool down

When the processing time from the chart above is up, turn off the heat, and allow the pressure canner to cool and the pressure to drop to zero before opening the canner. Let the jars cool without being jostled. After the pressure drops to zero (usually, you can tell but the “click” sound of the safety release vents opening, as well as but the gauge. Let the pressure in the canner drop to zero by itself. This may take 45 minutes in a 16-quart canner filled with jars and almost an hour in a 22-quart canner. If the vent is opened before the pressure drops to zero OR if the cooling is rushed by running cold water over the canner, liquid will be lost from the jars. Too rapid cooling causes loss of liquid in the jars!

Step 13 – Remove the jars

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool on a wooden cutting board or a towel, without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won’t be bumped. You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don’t rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that’s a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it’s usually ok. You’re done!

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs
    helpful to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
    – to remove lids from the pot
    of hot water
  3. Lid
    – disposable – you may only
    use them once
  4. Ring
    – holds the lids on the jar until after
    the jars cool – then you don’t need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
    – to fill the jars

Q. Is it safe to can peppers in a traditional water bath (rather than a pressure canner)? If so how long do you do process them?

A. The answer, quite simply is no. (note – pickled peppers are a different question with a different answer) Quoting from the Ohio State University Extension’s Fact Sheet:

“Pressure canning is the only safe method for home canning (low acid) vegetables. Clostridium botulinum is the bacterium that causes botulism food poisoning in low-acid foods, such as vegetables. The bacterial spores are destroyed only when the vegetables are processed in a pressure canner at 240 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for the correct amount of time.

Clostridium botulinum is the bacterium commonly found in vegetables and meats. It is harmless until it finds itself in a moist, low-acid, oxygen-free environment or a partial vacuum. Under these conditions, the bacterium can grow and produce toxins dangerous to people and animals.

Do not process (low acid) vegetables using the boiling water bath because the botulinum bacteria can survive that method.

And Clemson University provides these questions and answers: Can fruits and vegetables be canned without heating if aspirin is used? No. Aspirin should not be used in canning. It cannot be relied on to prevent spoilage or to give satisfactory products. Adequate heat treatment is the only safe procedure.

Is it safe to can peppers in a boiling water bath if vinegar is used? No. You may NOT change key aspects of an approved recipe like the processing time, nor the type of canner. Each recipe is tested independently and individually. Recommended processing methods must be used to assure safety. Recommended processing times cannot be shortened if vinegar is used in canning fresh vegetables.

Salt and sugar are not preservatives for vegetables: they are added to stabilize and improve flavor, but will not prevent spoilage.

Salicylic acid is also NOT a preservative. The University of Illinois reports:

Using Aspirin for Canning

Several years ago, a recipe circulated using aspirin to acidify tomatoes and peppers for canning. Aspirin is not recommended for canning. While it contains salicylic acid, it does not sufficiently acidify tomatoes or peppers for safe hot water bath canning. Green peppers are low acid foods and may only be processed safely in a pressure canner. Lemon juice or vinegar is recommended to acidify tomato products for safe water bath processing.

Think of it like smoking. We all know someone who smoke their entire life and lived to be 90. But the cemeteries are filled with the vast majority who didn’t. You’ll hear people say “my grandmother did it that way for 20 years”. But of course, the people who died from food poisoning aren’t around and often didn’t have descendants to tell their tale…

Pressure canners!

If you want to can low-acid foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables with the exception of most tomatoes, you will need a pressure canner. These foods fit into the low acid group since they have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or greater. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 F. Pressure canning is the only canning method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and fish. Ordinary water bath canners can only reach 212 F and cannot to kill the types of bacteria that will grow in low acid foods. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure as achieved in quality pressure canners.

There are several manufacturers of pressure canners. The two leading ones are Presto and All American (Wisconsin Aluminum). They are more expensive than water bath canners, but extremely well built – I bought mine in 1988 and it still looks and works like new!

With a pressure canner it’s easy. And although a pressure canner costs $100 to $200 (see this page for pressure canners models, makes and prices), they last a lifetime, and your children and grandchildren may be using it. Mine is 20 years old and will last my lifetime! You can also find free information from the USDA in this PDF file (it will take a while to load!) about selecting and using canners here!

5-Piece Canning Accessories Kit

Click on the links at left or above for more info and current pricing.

Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars? Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes? Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!

Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!

Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables

How do I? …Can Vegetables

Peppers

Hot or sweet, including chiles, jalapeno, and pimiento

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: Select firm yellow, green, or red peppers. Do not use soft or diseased peppers.

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

Procedure:

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 hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Select your favorite pepper(s). Small peppers may be left whole. Large peppers may be quartered. Remove cores and seeds. Slash two or four slits in each pepper, and either blanch in boiling water or blister using one of the following methods:

Oven or broiler method: Place peppers in a hot oven (400° F) or broiler for 6-8 minutes until skins blister.

Range-top method: Cover hot burner, either gas or electric, with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

Allow peppers to cool. Place in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. This will make peeling the peppers easier. After several minutes, peel each pepper. Flatten whole peppers. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar, if desired. Fill jars loosely with peppers and add fresh boiled water, leaving 1-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process following the recommendations in Table 1 or Table 2 according to the method of canning used.

Table 1. 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
Table 2. 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.
Reviewed February 2018.

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Five of the Country’s Best Pimento Cheese Purveyors Will Ship Straight to Your Door

beall + thomas photography

In New York City’s Meatpacking District, just over the road from the Hudson River and inside the Whitney, one of the country’s top art museums, it is lunchtime. The tables in Untitled, the museum restaurant, fill up rapidly, with a mix of art lovers from around the world, locals conducting business, or merely escaping reality for an hour or two, disappearing into this stories-high, glass-sheathed space that lets in all the light.

Just what is everyone eating? Allow yourself a wander through the busy dining room, cast a few sneaky glances about, and chances are, you will see groups of happy eaters diving into one of the restaurant’s more talked-about starters. Which would be the pimento cheese, scooped up with triangles of crispy flatbread, or, perhaps, if nobody is looking, shoveled by the spoonful.

No lunchroom grade, shred chedd, mayo and canned pepper special, this—some of the finest cheddar produced in Vermont sets the (orange-y) tone, and there are more twists to come. The spread is lighter, fluffier, thanks to the addition of ricotta, while smoked jalapeño peppers give off a welcome bit of extra heat. This, if it even needs to be said, turns out to be delicious stuff.

One hundred years ago, when Good Housekeeping magazine printed a recipe that encouraged home cooks to gently beat cream cheese, mustard, chives and minced pimento peppers together, it was the South that responded the most eagerly, in part due to the fact that it was the South where farmers began growing the red peppers necessary to the recipe — peppers which, up until then, would have been imported.

These growers were soon producing up to 10 million cans of pimento each year, many of which Southern cooks kept for themselves. Pimento cheese becoming synonymous with the Southern table was, it turns out, something like an accident of proximity to the necessary produce. In fact, at the very mention of the stuff, food historians are always quick to point out that the first occurrence of cheese and the then-imported peppers being combined happened up north, back in the 1800’s. Some say, gasp, it happened in New York.

In today’s same-day shipping, saw-it-on-Instagram world, location is no longer a barrier to inspiration, not to mention creation; pimento cheese is being made and can be found for sale pretty much everywhere in the United States. From supermarket shelves on the Eastern Seaboard, to finer restaurant tables on the West Coast (for example, Food & Wine Best New Restaurant 2018 Junebaby, in Seattle), to countless bars and restaurants throughout the land serving it up as a burger topper, if you’ve got a craving for the stuff and don’t have time to whip up a batch yourself (it’s easy, really!), someone else is ready to jump in and save you.

Not that you even have to leave your home—with a few clicks of a button, you can have some of the very best pimento cheese in the United States shipped straight to your door. Ready to make the Southern favorite a staple at your table? Here are five great makers we recommend.

Blackberry Farm
Tennessee

One of the best-loved small luxury resorts in the South, this exclusive Smoky Mountain retreat not-so-secretly doubles as a top producer of food and drink. Their in-house brewery is one of the best in the state, they cure a mean slab of bacon, and—of course—they make their own cheese. The house pimento cheese, made with Spanish roasted red pimento peppers and sharp, aged Cheddar is a clear winner.
16 oz. for $10

Sweet Grass Dairy
Georgia

One of the South’s finest cheesemakers in one of the South’s most delightful small towns is also the source of some of the South’s best—you guessed it—pimento cheese. This version begins with piles of nutty Thomasville Tomme, an aged, Pyrenees-style farmhouse cheese, imported piquillo peppers and smoked paprika, all brought together with spoonfuls of Duke’s mayonnaise, known to loyal fans as the best mayonnaise on earth. (We kind of see their point.)
6 oz. for $8

Red Clay Gourmet
North Carolina

Customers at Lance and Michele Sawyer’s craft beer bar in Winston-Salem couldn’t get over the house pimento spread, made with finely shredded and pleasantly sharp white cheddar. With so much creaminess coming from the very good cheese, this one could easily afford to go light on the mayonnaise, and it does—the first time we tasted the stuff, at a Whole Foods Market way up north, we knew Red Clay was special. There are a few varieties to sample—start with the classic, and see where you go from there.
10 oz. for $7.50

Fromagerie Belle Chevre
Alabama

Proving that even the South likes to mess around with tradition every now and then, one of the most unique (and most awarded) pimento cheese spreads you can buy right now comes from a small town in Alabama—peppers, spices, a mountain of fluffy goat’s cheese. Classic? No. Delicious, you bet. Healthier, too. 6 oz. for $6.99

Callie’s
Charleston

Known to Charleston visitors a great place to grab a couple of filled mini-biscuits for breakfast, Callie’s produces a very good, traditional pimento cheese, made with two ingredients found in plenty of classic preparations—Worcestershire Sauce and a dash of Tabasco.
Two 15 oz. tubs for $19.90

What are Pimentos, And How Do They Get Inside Olives?

Following a big win in the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, or any other major sporting event, fans want to get their hands on championship merchandise as quickly as possible. To meet this demand and cash in on the wallet-loosening “We’re #1” euphoria, manufacturers and retailers produce and stock two sets of T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise that declare each team the champ.

On Super Bowl Sunday, that means apparel for the winner—either the San Francisco 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs—will quickly fill clothing racks and gets tossed to players on the field once the game concludes. But what happens to the losing team’s clothing? It’s destined for charity.

Good360, a charitable organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, handles excess consumer merchandise and distributes it to those in need overseas. The losing team’s apparel—usually shirts, hats, and sweatshirts—will be held in inventory locations across the U.S. Following the game, Good360 will be informed of exactly how much product is available and will then determine where the goods can best be of service.

Good360 chief marketing officer Shari Rudolph tells Mental Floss there’s no exact count just yet. But in the past, the merchandise has been plentiful. Based on strong sales after the Chicago Bears’s 2007 NFC Championship win, for example, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory well before the game even started. And then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.

Good360 took over the NFL’s excess goods distribution in 2015. For almost two decades prior, an international humanitarian aid group called World Vision collected the unwanted items for MLB and NFL runners-up at its distribution center in Pittsburgh, then shipped them overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished nations. After losing Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Arizona Cardinals gear was sent to children and families in El Salvador. In 2010, after the New Orleans Saints defeated Indianapolis, the Colts gear printed up for Super Bowl XLIV was sent to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

In 2011, after Pittsburgh lost to the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers Super Bowl apparel went to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania.

Fans of the Super Bowl team that comes up short can take heart: At least the spoils of losing will go to a worthy cause.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2009. Additional reporting by Jake Rossen.

All images courtesy of World Vision, unless otherwise noted.

You Will Not Believe the History of Pimento Cheese

Photo: Jennifer Davick

Serious Eats just took a, well, serious look at the history of pimento cheese, the South’s favorite spread (well, favorite spread that’s not mayonnaise). While it’s hard to imagine anyone appreciating the heavenly combination of shredded cheese, mayo, and diced red pimentos as much as Southerners, the delicious spread actually got its start up North—in New York, specifically. That sounds like culinary heresy for sure, but remember cream cheese came from the North, too, yet you couldn’t frost a red velvet or hummingbird cake without it and those are definitely Southern specialties.

Speaking of cream cheese, that’s actually where pimento cheese got its start. According to Serious Eats, back in the 1870s New York farmers started making a soft, unripened cheese that eventually evolved into cream cheese. Around the same time, Spain started sending canned red peppers or “pimiento” over to the United States. They soon caught on, minus the extra “i”, and became a staple of many kitchens across the country.

The two ingredients were finally brought together in 1908, in a Good Housekeeping recipe that called for cream cheese, mustard, chives, and minced pimentos. The combination of cream cheese and pimento was such a hit, it started to be mass produced, primarily in the South. Soon, Georgia farmers were trying to grow red peppers domestically, roasting them, canning them and sending out as many as 10 million cans of pimentos a year, spreading the gospel of pimento cheese around the country.

After World War II, home cooks started making their own pimento cheese, swapping cream cheese for something called “hoop cheese” and then cheddar and using a good dollop of mayonnaise to bind it all together. From there it has become a staple of church picnics and school potlucks and even shows up at some of the South’s finest restaurants.

Read the full history of pimento cheese here—it’s truly fascinating to read about the roots of a Southern favorite–and then try some of Southern Living’s favorite pimento cheese recipes here.

The South Owes the Glory of Pimento Cheese to Macon: This Is How the Story Goes

Now listen little children and I’ll tell you a tale. It’s a story of how agricultural fortitude, culinary finesse, and a lawmaker with diplomatic ties can change everything – including the delicious creamy filling you slather on your daily bread.

Once upon a time in a kingdom way far away known as Upstate New York, local cheesemongers had a hankering in their hearts to upstage those French cheese makers across the sea. And so these men of curds, whey, and daring do set about crafting their own version of Neufchâtel, a spreadably soft and delicious unripened cheese that had been made by Norman monks since the Middle Ages. Lo and behold, these late 19th century cheesemongers succeeded – even improved upon it some say, by adding cream to the mix. Unlike its French cousin, this cheese was mild rather than mushroomy and more creamy than crumbly. “American Neufchâtel,” as it came to be called, was sold in little cakes, and the people loved it.

Meantime, the convergence of the Industrial Age and the advent of home economics encouraged local pantries, larders, and dinner tables to further flourish. New means of processing and transporting food from other parts of the world ushered in an exciting era of readily available, seemingly exotic foreign foodstuffs. Among them, pimiento peppers. In this Golden Age of industrial canning and food science, the unassuming little Spanish pepper, processed and imported in tins, became the subject of much ooh-ing and ah-ing by leaders in the arena of domestic science.

Prized for their bright red color and mild, sweet flavor, the peppers seemed a natural companion to American Neufchâtel. In the 1910 publication Fancy Cheese in America, Johan D. Frederickson of Little Falls, New York was credited with a manufacturing recipe for Pepper Cream Cheese or Pimento. “To 10 pounds of American Neufchatel cheese add one-fourth pound to one-half pound of red peppers,” the recipe read. “The peppers should first be put through a meat-mincing machine and ground to a pulp. The cheese and peppers are then mixed and pressed into rectangular shape.” It was one of the first mentions of “pimento cheese” in print, and the combination of the ruby-red Spanish pepper and cheese caught on like wildfire with those who loved “spicy foods” and “dainty sandwiches.”

It’s at this point in the story that both the South and Macon enter the picture. Now, importing these peppers in little tins or otherwise was expensive, so stateside farmers decided to grow their own. Production in California swelled, supplying much of the land with its demand for the peppery half of the dish they had come to know as pimento cheese. That is, until a couple of Georgia boys decided they could do better.

About that time, farmers S.D. Riegel and his sons of Experiment, Georgia, purchased seeds for a strain of pimento pepper from the Moore Seed Company in Philadelphia. After cultivating the peppers – and comparing them to those imported directly from Spain – they found the second-hand strain inferior. “As we were anxious to procure the best strain of this class of peppers, we concluded that we would try to procure seed from Spain,” the elder Reigel later recounted.

The Reigels approached Congressman Charles Lafayette Bartlett of Macon to reach out to the Spain for real-deal pimiento pepper seeds. The attorney and former solicitor general of Macon’s Judicial Court used his influence as a state representative to acquire the pepper seeds from the Spanish consul, and the Reigels were off to the races.

The farmers continued to grow and improve the pimento pepper, ultimately developing their prized Perfection Pimento. The cultivation of the Reigel’s strain of pimento, combined with a roasting method they developed for removing the pepper’s tough skin, sowed the seeds for an industrial canning facility on the Reigel’s farm. The Spalding County cannery was hugely successful, and it paved the way for a bustling new farming enterprise that put a salve on the nearly mortal wound the boll weevil had dealt Georgia planters. Commercial pepper production also brought acclaim for the state – as the Pimento Pepper Capital of the World.

The late Craig Claiborne, celebrated food writer and the undisputed auteur of Southern shrimp and grits, estimated that by 1929, 90% of the pimento peppers grown in the U.S. came from Georgia and supporting commercial facilities in nearby states. The ample supply of superior pimentos and bragging rights to the peppers’ provenance inspired Southern cooks to also “improve” the recipe for pimento cheese.

Cheddar cheese was available and affordable – plus it was more piquant than cream cheese. However, the cheese, spices of choice, and diced pimentos required a creamy binding agent to hold it all together and maintain sandwich-friendly spreadability. Ideally, it needed to be a hard-working ingredient that would enhance the taste rather than drown out the other flavors, while also managing to keep the perky shredded cheese and cherry-hued peppers intact. It’s a job mayonnaise was practically born for. The egg and oil in mayonnaise provided texture and binding, and the citrus added a tangy little twang that hit just the right note.

And just like a sinner who goes down to the river to wash away his sins, pimento cheese was reborn.

Pimento cheese quickly became – and remains – one of the most iconic dishes of our time, and like all things truly Southern, it was favored and feted by rich and poor alike. The working class tucked pimento cheese sandwiches into their lunch pails every day while the O’Haras and Wilkeses of the world just cut the crusts off those sammies and served them at fancy parties. Though the recipe has spawned multiple iterations, some of which still contain cream cheese, the common denominators of classic Southern pimento cheese are sharp Cheddar, pimento peppers and mayonnaise (preferably homemade or Duke’s). Today, no holiday party, Southern Living cookbook collection, or Master’s Tournament would be the same without it.

And just remember, gentle reader, were it not for a dutiful congressman from Macon willing to lend a helping hand to industrious Georgia farmers and the whimsical hand of fate, all would be for naught. The gustatory gloriana we all have come to know as real pimento cheese wouldn’t even exist. Pepper jelly would have no purpose. Sandwich bread everywhere would ache for the filling that dare not speak its name. That’s a true fact, my friends.

And I for one find myself in Macon’s debt yet once more for a thing I love, and cannot imagine life without.

Will pimento plant grow in direct sun in outdoor?

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