Canned Melrose Peppers (How-To Video and Recipe)

I am sort of obsessed with Melrose peppers. Many people don't know about the magic of Melrose peppers. It's kind of an Italian-Chicago thing.

They are VERY seasonal, and you will find them growing in abundance in Chicago gardens owned by Italians. If you came to my yard, or my parent's yard, you will see a plethora of Melrose pepper plants. My mom and I compete over how much of a harvest we are each getting.

The issue is, you cannot possibly eat all you grow. There is so much, but beyond that, you end up eating a lot of crusty bread with it. My mother makes them with garlic and crushed tomatoes and olive oil. Eating them like this with bread is a meal in and of itself. So you can quickly pack on the pounds, too.

I wanted to see if there was a way to preserve these lovely peppers so I can enjoy them even in the winter. After some research and checking out some chat rooms, it seems that canning Melrose peppers used to be an art of old Italian grandmothers, and the recipe and process seems to have been lost through the generations. There are MANY people trying to figure this out. Sounds like there are a lot of husbands out there who get a distant look in their eye as they talk about their grandmother's canned Melrose peppers. There are many wives and girlfriends trying to recreate this for their "GUYS". After all, how else do we Italian women show our love but through food-preferably with heaping amounts of olive oil?

I cobbled together an approach that I hope to refine as I play with this, so HUGE caveat here-this has not been tested. Hubby and I worked on this together and based on what we know about canning, this amount of olive oil makes us very nervous. We are keeping a close eye on our jars and we'll update this post to keep you all in the loop.

If you have a tried and true way to can Melrose peppers, please share with the rest of us! There is so much knowledge that is lost to us, and we all need to work together to make sure we hand down food crafts from our ancestors.

Canned Melrose Peppers (How-To Video and Recipe)

5 1/2 pounds of Melrose peppers
1/2 cup of olive oil plus more for topping off
1/4 cup of fresh chopped garlic
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of lemon juice per half quart jar
1 tablespoon +2 teaspoons of white distilled vinegar per half quart jar

Sterilize the mason jars, we used half quart jars for this recipe. 5 ½ pounds will yield 3 1/2 quart jars. Sterilize them in hot, boiling water for five minutes. Let dry by inverting the jars so that the water drains and evaporates. Do the same with the tops and rings.

Meanwhile trim ends of peppers and take the seeds out. In a high sided pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and toasted garlic in the oil add the peppers and cook over medium high heat for 8 to 10 minutes you're going to stir them frequently. 

Once sides are getting caramelized and cooked, use tongs to turn them one by one so that all sides are evenly browned. Remove from heat and place in jars. Distribute the garlic and olive oil evenly among the jars.

Here is a How-To Video created to help you out. For more canning videos, check out my canning playlist on my YouTube channel!



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