Urgently need canning experts opinion on what to do!!

maddy123October 8, 2013

Hi everyone! I came here because I have 50 jars of Portuguese peppers that I don't know what to do with...let me explain.. My fianc� and I recently got a jar of peppers from a co worker and we fell in love with them. They were delicious.
The co worker asked us if we would like to make some with her. We agreed to learn and of course get a bunch of jars at the same time. Now we know absolutely nothing about doing this so we went off to experience this new adventure.
This is exactly what she did with us: washed the peppers, sliced them, put them in large containers and salted them. Left them for 24 hours. Rinsed them. Put them them back in the containers, poured white vinegar on them to soak. Left them for another 24 hours. Took the peppers out of the vinegar and strained all the liquid out. Put them in jars, poured in canola oil and then poked the jars with sticks (to get the air out?) and then put the lids on. That's it.
Now we came home with the 50 jars and started reading how we could get really sick if we don't boil them? Please excuse our ignorance because this lady has been doing these peppers for years, but are we supposed to do something else now to make them safe? We are so confused and obviously don't want to get sick but are these peppers gonna be ok or is there something we can do or should be doing that this lady has never done? Please help!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Well this is difficult to answer as it is basically going to boil down to your choice. From your description of the steps these in no way whatsoever would be considered safe to eat per the recognized USDA guidelines. And unfortunately since they are packed in oil there isn't anything you can do to make them safer.

This is a very old European or perhaps Middle Eastern method of "preservation". Those that practice it would argue that it is safe because no one has died from doing it. At least not that they know of. Those of us who prefer a somewhat better guarantee of safety would never eat them. Your choice.

Peppers are a low acid food and to be properly preserved they must either be

(1)pickled in a strong vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath OR

(2)they may be pressure canned in water OR

(3) they can be fermented for 1-2 weeks in a salt solution and then refrigerated OR

(4) mariated using the tested and approved instructions of:


Bell, Hungarian, banana, or jalapeno

4 lbs firm peppers
1 cup bottled lemon juice
2 cups white vinegar (5%)
1 tbsp oregano leaves
1 cup olive or salad oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, quartered (optional)
2 tbsp prepared horseradish (optional)

After blistering skins, place peppers in a pan and cover with a damp cloth. Cool several minutes; peel off skins.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Place 1/4 garlic clove (optional) and 1/4 teaspoon salt in each hot half-pint jar or 1/2 teaspoon per pint. Fill hot jars with peppers. Add hot, well-mixed oil/pickling solution over peppers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process for 15 mins

You do not have to roast them but then you'll need to cut slits in them and the oregano, onions, garlic, and horseradish are optional.

If these jars are less than 24 hours old you might be able to dump them and re-do them using that recipe.

The steps you describe above sound like an attempt to do all three but for far too little time each step of the way.

Then storing them in oil with no aded acid only serves to create the ideal environment for anaerobic bacterial growth and isn't recommended.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 10:23PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It really is an issue of your comfort level. Depending upon the size/thickness of the peppers they may or may not have been completely acidified by the vinegar. If the vinegar was heated, so much better. In that case, there's not the same degree of risk with the oil as with plain peppers. I have, for instance, seen European recipes for peppers which are tender-cooked in a vinegar solution after which the oil is poured on. That minimizes any potential issues.

However, there are a lot of variables and no way of knowing for certain. People can go a lot of years in families and not have the bad luck to run into problems. But it only takes once.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 1:23AM
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