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Cowboy Candy

What is this marvel they call “cowboy candy”?

 

In short, cowboy candy is simply candied jalapeños. Sliced jalapeño rings in a sweet vinegar syrup…with or without the fire components (the seeds and membrane).  Try this recipe if you dare! It’s quite versatile too.  You can eat it as a relish on meats or eggs, put it on sandwiches, eat it with cream cheese and crackers.  We’ve even eaten it as a topping for nachos.  The possibilities extend as far as your imagination is willing to take them.

I am not sure where the typical recipe for Cowboy Candy originated from.  I’ve seen identical recipes posted in quite a few places online.  However, I have adapted a recipe I found and will post that here if you would like to try it out.  My taste buds don’t venture out too far with respect to hot, spicy foods.  The first time I made it, I did it exactly as the recipe said.  Let me tell you…it was HOT! The next time I made it I changed it up a bit so that it wasn’t quite so hot.

Cowboy Candy
Print Recipe
Cowboy candy is simply candied jalapeños. Sliced jalapeño rings in a sweet vinegar syrup...with or without the fire components (the seeds and membrane). You can eat it as a relish on meats or eggs, put it on sandwiches, eat it with cream cheese and crackers. We've even eaten it as a topping for nachos. The possibilities extend as far as your imagination is willing to take them.
Servings
3 half-pints
Servings
3 half-pints
Cowboy Candy
Print Recipe
Cowboy candy is simply candied jalapeños. Sliced jalapeño rings in a sweet vinegar syrup...with or without the fire components (the seeds and membrane). You can eat it as a relish on meats or eggs, put it on sandwiches, eat it with cream cheese and crackers. We've even eaten it as a topping for nachos. The possibilities extend as far as your imagination is willing to take them.
Servings
3 half-pints
Servings
3 half-pints
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs jalapeños sliced
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups pure cranberry juice
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 3 tsp granulated garlic (or 1-1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
Servings: half-pints
Instructions
  1. Time to get out the rubber gloves! Before putting them on, be sure there are no holes or cuts in them. You don't want to get a capsaicin burn. But if you do, try soaking your hands in whole milk. That milk fat is supposed to help that. You also may want to get something you can scratch your nose with...because you know that it tends to itch when you're not supposed to touch it. :) Anyway, put the gloves on and cut the stems from the peppers and discard. Removing the seeds and membrane is optional. Slice the jalapeños in 1/8-1/4" rounds. Set aside. Process jars in a waterbath canner for 10 minutes for half-pints and 15 minutes for pints. You should get about 2-3 pints, maybe more. Allow to mellow for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavors to meld together and mellow a bit.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Add pepper slices and simmer another five minutes. Using a slotted spoon, fill the clean, sterilized canning jars with the jalapeño slices up to 1/4" headspace.
  3. After jars are filled with peppers, reheat the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil and boild hard for about 6 minutes. Use a ladle to pur the boiling syrup into the jars over the pepper slices. (Sometimes I'll ladle the liquid into a glass measuring cup with a spout for easier pouring. I've found that I get less dripping that way.) Release any air bubbles and add more syrup, if necessary. Wipe jar rims with a paper towel dampened with vinegar. Make sure the rims are clean or the lids may not seal properly.
  4. Process jars in a waterbath canner for 10 minutes for half-pints and 15 minutes for pints. You should get about 2-3 pints, maybe more. Allow to mellow for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavors to meld together and mellow a bit.
  5. You will almost definitely have syrup leftover. Don't throw it out! Instead, use it to marinade meat before grilling or baking. You can also use it to add a little kick to barbeque sauce. Oh the possibilities! You can also can this for later or refrigerate it.
Recipe Notes

Be sure to follow safe canning practices!

I had to say it. I know there will be other experienced canners out there that will see this recipe and won't have any trouble at all. But if you're not familiar with canning or are just starting out, be sure to follow safe canning practices. You can find information for getting started at the Ball Canning website. Another resource can be found at National Center for Home Food Preservation. They also offer a free, self-paced online course that is packed with great info. You even get a certificate if you successfully complete the course. You can register for it here.

Important Note!

Before "adapting" recipes meant for canning, read this.

I mentioned earlier that I made some adaptations to the recipe I used. Even minor changes to a canning recipe can wreak havoc because the changes you make may change the pH. pH is the scale used to measure acidity or alkalinity. It ranges from 0-14. This is VERY imporant in canning!

To use the waterbath method of canning, your food product must have a pH of 4.6 or less. Waterbath canning is only safely used for high-acid foods. If you alter a recipe too much and it becomes a low-acid food, then you would have to pressure can the food. Pressure canning is the only way to safely can a low-acid food product, as the low-acid product needs a higher temperature and processing time to kill the "nasties" than the waterbath method can provide.

When I made the adaptation, I checked the pH before canning it to be sure it fell below 4.6. It did. I used short range pH paper. For the record, the biggest adaptation I made was to add cranberry juice in place of some of the vinegar. (The recipe originally called for 2 cups vinegar. On my second batch I used 1 cup of vinegar and 1-1/2 cups cranberry juice. I got the inspiration for that ratio from a cranberry pepper jelly recipe. Next time I will use white vinegar, as I think the apple cider vinegar overpowers the cranberry a bit too much.)

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