These are by far the most extraordinary pickles I know. I have been preparing them for long years and always in several big batches because they are also my family’s and friends’ favourite preserves. I already wrote about these pickles about two years ago, but at the time I didn’t have many visitors, so they remained unnoticed. When recently Jeno from Weeknite Meals commented on this old forgotten post I felt I had to dig it out and share with all my visiting and blogging friends (while making this weekend’s batch I also changed the previous awful photo). Thank you, Jeno, for drawing my attention to this post.
I can shamelessly affirm that these are the best pickled peppers I have ever tasted because I am not the author of the recipe. I got it from a friend, who, in her turn, got it from her boss, an excellent cook. I have never had a chance to taste her boss’s peppers, but I believed my friend when she said they were simply the best. She was right because I have never even tried to modify the original recipe. I have always put the same spices, the same proportion of vinegar and sugar and the same significant amount of garlic too. I also never skip the tablespoon of oil which smooths and “polishes” the flavours.
Every variety of pepper can be pickled this way and as you can see below the process is quite easy. The most important is that the peppers be fresh and ripe. The stronger their aroma the better the pickle will be. Of course red peppers are most beautiful. The jars keep for at least a year, but a three year old jar I recently found at the back of my pantry was still perfect. You should wait at least a couple of weeks before tasting, but it largely improves with time.
Preparation: 1 hour+processing
1.5 kg (3,3 pounds) sweet peppers
about 20 peeled garlic cloves
up to 10 bay leaves
a couple of teaspoons mustard grains
a couple of teaspoons black pepper grains
2-3 teaspoons allspice grains
1 litre (about 4 cups) cider/white wine/other alcohol vinegar (mine was 4,5%, if you use a stronger one, add proportionally more water)
1.1 litre (about 4 cups and 3 oz) water
400 g (1 3/4 cups) caster sugar
3 tablespoons salt
olive oil (or other good quality oil)
Cut the peppers’ stems, discard all the seeds and white parts. Cut them into 2-3 cm pieces.
Put the vinegar, the water, the sugar and the salt in a pan and let it boil a couple of minutes, stirring well until all the sugar is dissolved. Put aside.
Fill the jars with hot (no longer boiling!) vinegar mixture, leaving 1,5 cm from the rim. Pour a generous tablespoon of oil in each jar. Close the jars and let them cool down.
Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to the boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the pickle and don’t forget to mark the date.
Wait at least a couple of weeks before opening the jars. As do most pickles, this one improves with time. Pickled peppers are perfect with cold meats, in sandwiches, on toast, as a side dish…