Going back from holidays I realised I must hurry with this year’s pickling sessions. Both chilli and sweet peppers are now particularly ripe, they smell heavenly and their prices simply cry for buying in bulk. Some of you might have noticed I have already written about pickled chillies two years ago, but given the importance they take in my pantry and on my table (I think they are the preserves I consume in biggest amounts), I thought this recipe merits to be reminded after such a long time. It’s easy, it’s quick and keeps wonderfully for at least a year if you process the jars correctly. These chillies can be served with any dish from any ethic cuisine and are a wonderful present idea for all the chilli lovers (personally I would by far prefer to receive a jar of those rather than a bunch of flowers!).
When I pickle in vinegar I always choose the Turkish pepper variety called “aci sivri”, which I consider moderately hot, but of course any hot chilli variety will be perfect here. Everyone’s heat resistance and preferences vary, so, to give you an idea: jalapeños have 2500 – 10000 unities at Scoville heat scale while aci sivri 30000 – 50000 (if you are interested in Scoville scale, Chileplanet.eu contains the most exhaustive list of chilli varieties I know). Apart from the usual vinegar brine (vinegar, sugar, salt), all you need are chillies and garlic. Mustard seeds and peppercorns can be skipped. The small amount of oil I pour on top (like I do with Pickled Sweet Peppers), mellows the vinegar acidity and “rounds” the flavours. With time the heat level of the chillies slightly decreases (I think it goes to the brine actually), but they still remain hot.
If you don’t like fiery food, you might like these generously seasoned but mild pickled sweet peppers:
TIPS: I have used the Turkish “aci sivri” variety. They are long, bright green and moderately hot. My favourite. Of course, any hot pepper variety will work here and if you are lucky enough to get hold of jalapeños, I am sure they will be perfect pickled this way.
Do not forget to put on the gloves before you start manipulating the peppers! If you forget it and touch your nose or eyes afterwards, you will suffer for several hours. Your hands might also get very itchy!
You can remove the pepper seeds or not. If you keep them, the pickles will be hotter of course, but otherwise the taste will not change much. My tip to remove seeds from narrow and long peppers: cut them into slices (thinner or thicker, as you prefer) and with your thumb push the seeds and the white part out of the pieces which are closer to the stem (usually 1/4-1/3 of the pepper). Of course wear gloves!
The vinegar – sugar ratio can be changed according to your preferences. If you like sweeter pickles, add more sugar. The only risky thing might be diluting more the vinegar. (Of course if your vinegar is stronger, add more water accordingly). If you pickle in vinegar for the first time, it’s a good idea to prepare a jar of short term pickles first. Taste is after a week and then see what you want to change (more/less sugar).
Preparation: 1 hour + processing
Ingredients (yield: about 10 – 13 x 300 ml jars):
1,5 – 2 kg hot chilli peppers
about 20 peeled garlic cloves
a couple of teaspoons mustard grains
a couple of teaspoons black pepper grains
1 litre cider/white wine/other vinegar (mine was 4,5%, if you use a stronger one, add proportionally more water)
1.1 litre water
400g caster sugar
3 tablespoons salt
olive oil (or other good quality oil)
Put on the gloves! Cut the peppers’ stems and cut them into 2-3 cm pieces. (You can take the seeds away, but I left them on purpose: I prefer my pickles hotter).
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 – not 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 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.