This is the latest in a series of posts that I’m doing about preserving the vegetables and fruits we grow at Happy Acres.
Pickling is a popular and traditional method of preserving peppers and other fruits and vegetables for later use. Some recipes call for processing the peppers in a hot water bath so they can be stored at room temperature, but I find that gives them a cooked taste and prefer to keep them under refrigeration instead. The pickled peppers keep for a long time when kept refrigerated, and make a tasty addition to salads, sandwiches and other dishes. We like to use them as topping for pizza, where they add flavor and a bit of heat if made from hot peppers. I’ve been pickling them for several years now, and today I want to share my recipe.
I’ve pickled both sweet peppers and hot peppers using this method, and both turned out well. The peppers can either be green or ripe, but it’s best to work with fresh and firm peppers that don’t have any signs of disease or rot. I like to cut the peppers in half first, and remove the seeds and membrane. If I’m using hot peppers, I wear nitrile gloves to protect myself from the capsaicin that makes the peppers hot.
The first step in the process involves an overnight soak in a 10% salt solution. That firms up the peppers a bit, and draws out some moisture. It also reduces the heat level of the hot peppers if using them. After soaking in the salt water solution for 8-12 hours, I drain the peppers in a colander. Then I rinse them in tap water to remove any excess salt and drain well again.
Next, I make a sweet brine using sugar, vinegar and water. I heat the brine just enough to help dissolve the sugar, but not to the boiling point. I’ve seen recipes that call for cooking the peppers briefly in the brine, but I’ve not found that necessary since we are not going to can the peppers and we want to preserve the fresh taste and texture as much as possible. Finally, I pack the peppers in a glass jar, pour in the sweet brine to cover, and store the pickled peppers in the refrigerator. You can add a clove or two of garlic to add a bit of extra flavor at this point if you like. For best flavor, you should wait at least a week before eating them to let the peppers absorb the sweet brine, though you can always sneak a taste or two if you can’t wait! My method does not result in a shelf-stable product, so refrigeration is a must. They keep this way for several months without losing quality.