• When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown peppers for the best quality and nutritional value.
  • Know when fresh peppers are available in your state with this seasonal food guide.

1. Selection

  • An average of 9 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 25 pounds and yields 20 to 30 pints – an average of 1 pound per pint.
  • Select firm yellow, red an gree peppers. Do not used soft or diseased peppers.


If this is your first time pickling, or it has been awhile, it is recommended that you read Using Boiling Water CannersGeneral Canning Information, and General Pickling Information before beginning.  

2. Ingredients

(Makes about 6 pints or 12 half-pints)

  • 5 cups coarsely chopped green bell peppers (about 7-8 peppers)
  • 5 cups coarsely chopped red bell peppers (about 7-8 peppers)
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion (about 3 medium yellow onions)
  • 2-1/2 cups cider or white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seed

3. Equipment

  • Water bath canner: Large covered pot (with a tight-fitting cover and a rack) that is deep enough to cover the rack and canning jars by 1 to 2 inches of boiling water. (At least 10 inches deep for pint jars, and 12 inches deep for quart jars.)
  • Canning jars: use standard canning jars without cracks or chips (see recipe for sizes)
  • Lids and bands: bands can be reused if they are in good shape, but lids must be new to ensure a proper seal
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Wide-mouth funnel
  • Jar lifter (for safely moving jars into and out of the canner)
  • Lid wand (for placing lids on jars)
  • Bubble freer, or a plastic or rubber knife-like utensil (for removing air bubbles from jars)
  • Ruler for measuring headspace (Some bubble removers include this feature)
  • Large bowl
  • 4-quart pot
  • Medium pot for extra boiling water
  • Large cooking pot
  • Towels or wire rack for cooling jars
  • Clean white cloth for pickling spices
  • Paper towels
  • Hot pads
  • Cutting board
  • Knives and/or food processor
  • Timer or clock

4. Prepare Canning Equipment

Water Bath Canner-

  • Assemble and wash equipment and containers.
    • Wash canning jars in soapy water, rinse, and keep hot. (This can be done in a dishwasher or by placing jars in the water that is heating in your canner.)
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for preparing lids.
  • Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner. Fill the canner approximately half full with clean warm water for a canner load of pint jars. For other sizes and numbers of jars, you will need to adjust the amount of water so it will be 1 to 2 inches over the top of the filled jars.
  • Center the canner over the burner and preheat the water to 180 degrees F for hot-packed foods.
  • In medium pot, boil some extra water to use later, as needed, to cover the jars.
  • Begin preparing food for your jars while this water is preheating.

5. Prepare Ingredients

  • Wash peppers well; trim to remove stems and seeds.
  • Wash and peel onions.
  • Coarsely chop peppers and onions separately, using a knife or food processor.
  • Measure 5 cups of each type of peppers (green and red) with their juice, and 1-1/2 cups of the chopped onion, including juice.
  • Combine the measured peppers and onions with the vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seed in a large pot.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat and cook at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.

6. Fill Jars

  • Fill jars with hot relish, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
  • Remove air bubbles and add more relish as needed so headspace is 1/2-inch.
  • Wipe jar rims with a clean, wet paper towel.
  • Place lids on jars and add screw bands. Screw the bands down fingertip tight- not too loose nor too tight. Follow lid manufacturer's directions for tightening the jar lids properly.

7. Process Jars

Water Bath Canner-

  • With jar lifter, place jars on canning rack in large pot, which is filled with hot water. Jars should not touch each other.
  • Add or remove boiling water as needed until jars are covered by 1" - 2".
  • Turn heat to high and bring to a vigorous boil. Set timer for correct processing time. Refer to the tables below for processing time for your elevation and jar size.
  • Cover canner with lid and lower heat setting to maintain a gentle boil throughout processing time.
  • When processing time is up, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars.
  • Using jar lifter, remove jars and place them on a rack or dry towel.
  • Allow the jars to cool untouched, away from drafts, for 12 to 24 hours before testing lid seals.
  • Once cool, remove the screw bands and check the seal.
  • If any jars did not seal, treat as if 'fresh' and do any of the following:
    • Eat the food immediately.
    • Refrigerate food and use within a week.
    • Freeze.
    • Reprocess. If reprocessing, must repeat the entire canning process.

8. Store

  • Label jars with date and processing information.
  • Store in a cool, dark place, where there is no danger of freezing.
  • For best flavor in pickles, wait five to six weeks before opening.

Not sure of your elevation? Click here

Water Bath Processing Time- HALF PINTS or PINTS
0-1,000 ft 1,001-6,000 ft 6,001-10,000 ft
10 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes