The local farms are busting with all kinds of good stuff. You know what to do with most of it; grill it, slice it, toss it, steam it. Veggies are easy. Hot peppers however benefit from a little work. Aside from a chopped fresh jalapeno in guacamole we don’t find much use for fresh hot peppers around here. If you’ve ever sliced a fresh cayenne pepper into a salad and your friends loved it, let me know.
A few years ago I grew a small patch or Portuguese Peppers that somehow produced about 150 peppers. I couldn’t give them away. So out of desperation I tried the simplest pickling recipe I could think of. The jars of Portuguese peppers were a hit, problem solved. Two weeks ago I made a single quart jar of Cherry Hot Peppers, the recipe holds up and I am enjoying “fresh” pickled peppers. So I thought I’d share.
A canning jar with a metal self-sealing lid works best. Ball or other brand should do just fine. The thing to remember is you need enough jars to hold the peppers and enough liquid to cover the peppers in the jars. So adjust for your own personal pepper problem.
Pickled Peppers – (makes one quart)
7-8 hot peppers
2 cups cider vinegar
2 Tbsp kosher salt (or pickling salt if you have it)
1 Tbsp sugar
Carefully clean and slice the peppers. By carefully I mean do not get your hands covered in pepper juice, let it splash in your eyes or cut yourself while working with them. I left the seeds intact for maximum heat. Pack a clean jar 3/4 full of sliced peppers.
In a small sauce pot bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a low boil. stir gently until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved, about one minute after bubbles form. Let brine rest two minutes. Carefully pour the hot brine over the peppers until there is one inch of space left in the jar, note: filling the jar in the sink is a good idea when working with near boiling vinegar. Drop on the lid and tighten.
At this point you will notice the lid has some give to it, wait; that will close up as the jar cools. Also take a close look at the peppers, you will see them surrender to the heat and salt over the next ten minutes or so. Leave the jar out on the counter until it cools, about an hour, the vacuum should pull the lid down and tighten it up. At this point you can use the peppers as you would any other jarred pepper.
Once cool I put them in the refrigerator . When you open them for the first time the jar should give a satisfying pop as you break the vacuum. If you can’t tell if something in your fridge has gone rancid, then you have no business making your own pickled peppers.
I find these peppers have much more crunch than store bought and start to finish it takes 20 minutes to go from pulling out the vinegar to closing the lid. Plus one quart jar costs about $2 in ingredients.