It takes a sour woman to make a good pickle. Wise words in The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. Words I've chosen to live by. The perfect pickle is my goal.
We consume pickled foods with reckless abandon in our household. Pickles are their own food group and we are getting our 5 to 10 servings a day. As a testament to how good these pickled peppers are, my husband is averaging a 2L jar a month.
I was fortunate enough to be responsible for the pickling department at my last job. It gave me so much freedom to create and explore new techniques, ratios and ingredients. Along the way, I’ve come up with some incredible recipes which I’m happy to share.
For my first recipe, we’re going to keep it simple and spicy. The pickled pepper. Pickling is a choose your own adventure game. Fully customizable to your own tastes. I measure my ingredients with my heart but I wrote down my methods today so I can share this spicy treat.
What you’ll need
1 pound jalapeños or hot peppers of your choice
6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Half of an onion
This is the base recipe. Feel free to play around. You can use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar or a combination (my preference). White sugar is good for most pickles but sometimes I like to play with brown sugar, especially if I’m doing a sweet pickle like berries. I used two packages of jalapeños and two packages of habaneros for extra spice. Adding raw, sliced onion will help with the overall flavor while also softening it.
For the pickling spice, I recommend a mix of dill seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaf, mustard seeds, and the shining star, coriander seeds. I am vehemently against cinnamon in a pickling spice. Adding fresh dill is highly recommend. Some vegetables and fruits can tolerate a warmer flavor but it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you want to try a warm flavored pickle, try adding cloves or allspice to berries (omit all other spices listed) and increase the sugar content. Wonderful and unexpected in salads.
A good starter mix
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
2 tsp black pepper corns
2 tsp coriander seeds
How to make pickled peppers
Put on some good music, get yourself some gloves. A sharp knife or a mandolin will to the trick. Slice up all your peppers, onion and garlic. Add the peppers and onions to a big glass jar. Get a pot on the stove and fill it with your vinegar, water, salt, sugar, pickling spice, garlic and fresh herbs. Bring it to a boil, making sure all the sugar and salt are dissolved, and let the spices steep until cool. For aesthetic reason, we will strain the pickling liquid. Feel free to add more garlic and fresh herbs to the peppers, I personally don’t since the dill gets tangled and the garlic can oxidize and turn blue. Pour your pickling liquid into the jar and push the peppers into the liquid. As it starts to pickle, the peppers will release more water. This is a “quickle” since we’re not canning or pressure canning our peppers. These stay good in the fridge for months, but trust me, they won’t last that long.
Tip: when making a dipping sauce or salad dressing, use some of your pickling liquid. It adds a tangy, spicy complexity to your meal.
What should we pickle next?