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Pickled Jalapeños -- Peppers with a Message

Two things alerted me that Meghan was going to be the newest member of the Dougherty clan fourteen years ago -- 1) I got weepy while listening to Lullaby, a song by Trout Fishing in America, driving back to Bayfield from the beach in Cornucopia and 2) I was craving pickled jalapeños.

The summer of 2002, I was living on the boat with the kids when the weepy/pickled jalapeños calling card came and rather than take the pregnancy test in Bayfield without Ted, I decided to head back to St Paul. On our way home, I met Liz, my sister, at Grandma's Sports Garden in Duluth for lunch and my suspicions about the fifth Dougherty child were confirmed -- all I could think about was a plate of nachos with a pile of pickled jalapeños on top.

This jalapeño craving wasn't a new thing for me -- I always had a hankering for spicy food when I was pregnant. I couldn't get enough jalapeño poppers when I was pregnant with Jack and in fact, it was a jalapeño popper lunch at Pasqual's in Uptown that jump-started my labor with him. I guess pregnancy messages come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors......and pickled jalapeños are still a staple in our kitchen, even if our baby days are over! 

Pickled Jalapeños

2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
4 pounds jalapeños, sliced and seeded (keep the seeds if you like it spicy)
1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
1/4 cup peppercorns
7 garlic cloves
A couple of sprigs of oregano
Handful of lime slices

Preparation
Heat a large stockpot or canner with water and bring to a boil. 

Heat the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. While the water/vinegar mixture is heating up, divide the sliced jalapeños, cilantro, peppercorns, garlic, oregano, and limes among 6 or 7 half-pint sterilized canning jars. Pour the water/vinegar mixture into each canning jar, leave about a 1/2-inch headspace at the top, place the lids on, and screw on the rings until just finger-tight.

Carefully transfer the jars to the stockpot/canner. When all the jars are in the canner, there should be at least 1 inch water covering them; if you need more, add water from the kettle until the jars are sufficiently covered. Bring the water to a full rolling boil, and process for 5 minutes. Using canning tongs, gently remove the jars from the stockpot/canner and transfer them to a kitchen towel or cooling rack, keeping them vertical. Leave to cool, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours. Store in a cool/dark place for up to one year.