Chiles en Vinagre is more than just pickled jalapenos. It’s a mix of jalapenos, carrots, garlic, and onions, and in my mind, belongs on the table as much as chips and salsa do. Maybe, more so.
I first became enamored with chiles en vinagre while eating at Molinas Cantina in Houston, Texas. Molinas has been a Mexican food tradition in Houston since 1941, and if you’re a Mexican food or Tex-Mex fan, it belongs on your list of stops if you happen to be in town.
I ate there probably once a week for the three years that I was stuck in Houston working as a cog in the corporate machine. Their pickled carrots and jalapenos were as addictive as any drug and were perfect for stoking my appetite before digging into a platter of enchiladas.
They’re even better if you’re swilling a few Carta Blancas along with them.
I’m back in West Texas now, so Molinas is out of reach. Making my own is my only option.
Now, I make a big batch of this when I have a bumper crop of jalapenos in my garden, or my local H-E-B gets in a good batch that I can’t pass up.
The challenge for me is I make quite a bit at a time, and I don’t want to take up too much refrigerator space. Keeping this many jars of pickled jalapenos and carrots is why I can them for storage in my pantry, rather than having to store them in my refrigerator.
If you don’t want to do any actual canning, no problem, you can just put the chiles en vinagre in jars and store them in your refrigerator for later. Just let them sit for about a month before you open them. They’ll hold up for about four months as long as you keep them cold.
To can your chiles en vinagre, keep reading.
Water Bath Canning Your Chiles in Vinagre
Below you’ll find the simple steps to properly can your chiles en vinagre for long term storage:
- Heat the jars. Take the bands and lids off of your jars and set them aside. Place your canning rack in the bottom of your pot, put the opened jars on the rack, and then add enough water to cover the jars by at least an inch. Turn heat to medium so that it’ll come to a simmer while you prepare and cook the vegetables. Wash the lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then set aside in a clean bowl.
- Prepare the ingredients. To get your peppers, carrots, and onions ready, rinse them under cold water, then slice them all up.
- Cook your ingredients. Make sure that you use a non-reactive stainless steel or enameled pot to prepare your brine. Add the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, then bring to a boil. Add your vegetables, cover, then bring back to a boil. Once it reaches a boil that you can’t stir down, start your timer on the cook time.
- Fill the jars. Once your vegetables have completed their boil, turn off the heat. Remove the jars from the canner, carefully pouring any liquid in them back into the canner. Place them on a towel on your countertop. Divide the spices between the jars, then carefully spoon the vegetables and brine into the jars, leaving 1/2″ of headspace. A bubble remover and headspace measuring tool can be helpful here. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, then place a lid on each one, along with a ring that is tightened fingertip-tight.
- Process the filled jars. Place the jars back in the canner, ensuring that at least one-inch of water covers them. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a hard, rolling boil, then start your timer for the processing time (be sure that you adjust the processing time based on your elevation using the chart below).
- Remove the jars and let them cool. Once the processing time has been completed, turn off the heat, and let the jars cool in the water for ten minutes. After they have cooled, move the jars to the towel on your countertop to continue cooling for another twelve hours.
- Test the seal. To test the seal on the jars, first, check to see if the center of the lid is depressed. After that, remove the bands and gently pry up on the lid. If it does not come off, the seal is good, and you can store the jars in your pantry for up to a year.
As the jars cool on your countertop, you should hear the telltale ping of the lids as the temperature comes down.
Be sure that you adjust the processing time of your chiles en vinagre based on the chart below.
|Altitude in Feet||Increase in Processing Time|
|1,001 to 3,000||5 minutes|
|3,001 to 6,000||10 minutes|
|6,001 to 8,000||15 minutes|
|8,001 to 10,000||20 minutes|
|Source: Ball Canning – Back to Basics|
To learn more about the ins and outs of canning jams, jellies, pickles, and more, we highly recommend reading Ball Canning – Back to Basics.
Chiles en Vinagre – Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots
- 1 lb. jalapenos - cut into 1/8-inch thick disks
- 1 lb. carrots - peeled, then cut into 1/8-inch thick disks
- 1 medium white onion - halved, then cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
- 12 cloves garlic - peeled
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. pickling salt
- 5 dried bay leaves
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- Put your canning rack into your large stockpot, along with your 5 pint jars, and enough water to cover the jars by 1-inch. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Maintain this simmer until you are ready to add your vegetables.
- Rinse your vegetable under cold water, then slice your carrots (peel them first), jalapenos, and onion into 1/8" rounds. Peel your garlic cloves and leave whole.
- In a smaller, non-reactive pot, add the 3 cups each of water and vinegar, along with the salt and sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium-high and add your vegetables. Cover and boil for 12 minutes. Be sure to start your timer only when the pot has returned to a full boil which can't be stirred down.
- Wash all your rings and lids in warm soapy water and set aside.
- Carefully remove the jars from the simmering pot with your jar lifter. Pour whatever water is in the jars back into the pot and place on a dish towel on your counter. Divide the bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and black peppercorns between the jars.
- Evenly spoon the vegetables into the jars, then top with the brine left in the pot, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace in the jars.
- Place the lids back on the jars, then screw the bands back on, fingertip-tight. Using the jar lifter, gently place the jars back into your canning pot and return to a rolling boil (be certain that the water covers the jars by at least 1-inch). Place the lid on the pot and process for 15-minutes (adjust the boil time based on elevation as mentioned in the article above).
- Once the jars have finished processing, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars cool in the water for 5-minutes. Remove to a towel on your countertop and allow to cool for about 12-hours. Listen for the tell-tale ping of the jars sealing as they cool.
- To test that the jars have sealed properly, check the center of the lid. It should not bend under the pressure of your finger. Remove the bands, then gently pry on the lid with your thumbs. If the lid does not come off, it is sealed. Place the bands back on the jars and store them in a cool dry place for one month before enjoying.