About 8-10 years ago we were attending a leather show in Georgia. Some of the older guild members like my salsa, which is warm. I usually put a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa on the raffle table.
One of the guild members said, you should try cowboy candy. What is cowboy candy? He informed me that it was a combination of maraschino cherries and jalapeno peppers in a sweet pickle brine . Sounds interesting. After returning home, I played around with the recipe until I came up with 2 recipes that I thought might be what he was talking about.
The next year rolls around and I asked him to do a taste test on the 2 recipes. He told me his choice with only one suggestion. Next time slice the jalapenos.
The reaction from some of the people that tried the samples was interesting. One gentleman would eat a cherry and say, "Ambrosia." Another gentleman decided to try a jalapeno, as he sat there his face turned red and the sweat was flowing. He jumped up and left the room. When he finally returned.he said. "I just had a little taste of he_ _." Another gentleman that was known to imbibe a bit, tasted the brine and immediately pulled out his flask and spiked the brine. He seemed to like it.
Step 1: Cowboy Candy
36 Jalapeno peppers, sliced with seeds Wear gloves when slicing
100 whole maraschino cherries (approximately) ( Do not use the cut cherries they lose their color when processed)
4 cups of white vinegar
1 1/2 cups of cherry juice or water
4 cups of granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon of pickling spice( place in spice bag)
Step 2: Cowboy Candy
4 quart saucepan
12 - 1/2 pint canning jars
canning lids and screw caps
dry measuring cup
liquid measuring cup
canner ( any pan can be used if it is tall enough to allow for 2 inches of water over the jars, also a plate or grid is placed on the bottom of the pan so that the jars are not in direct contact with the pan.)
Step 3: Cowboy Candy
I am not making a full recipe, because I have some in the pantry and do not need more at this time, but I wanted to share the recipe.
Before starting put the canner and water on to heat up. Sterilize the jars and lids.
. Combine the sugar, cherry juice or water, vinegar and the spice bag in the sauce pan. Bring to a boil and and stir until the sugar is dissolved,
Step 4: Cowboy Candy
Wash and slice he jalapeno peppers about 3/8ths inch thick. Layer jalapenos alternately with the cherries until the jars are full. I start and end with the jalapenos. There should be about 1/2 inch head space in the jar.
Discard the spice bag and fill the jars with the sweet brine.
This recipe makes about 12 half pints.
Although the brine is a sweet brine, these snacks are spicy. My husband thinks the cherries are actually hotter than the jalapenos.
Step 5: Cowboy Candy
Wipe the top of the jars with a damp cloth. Put on the lids and screw tops. Tighten the tops.
Place the jars into the canner. Bring to a rolling boil and then turn down to simmer. Process for ten minutes. This is called a water bath.
Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel to cool. REMEMBER these jars have been in boiling hot water for ten minutes. They are hot.
I have been canning for many years and have a tool that lifts the jars out. Some canners have jar holders that can be raised out of the water.
Let the jars cool overnight. Check to be sure the jars are sealed. With the 2 piece jars the center of the lid will be pulled down. If a jar is not sealed, store it in the refrigerator. To store in the pantry or on the shelf, remove the screw top. They can grow if you leave them on the jar.
I usually serve these on a cracker with cream cheese. Guess who didn't have any cream cheese. I displayed them on a tortilla chip with sour cream Either way works. The cream cheese or sour cream will mellow out the heat. My husband just eats them straight out of the jar.