I often used to buy pickled sweet pepper, but there was always something wrong… too much oil, too much vinegar, not enough spices… When I tried to find tips for pickling peppers at home, one of my friends sent me her boss’s extraordinary recipe. At the time I didn’t even suspect it would be the best pickled pepper ever and that it would become the pride of my pantry. Thank you A.! This recipe is so perfect, I have never been tempted to modify it, in spite of tens of batches I have pickled since. Such a pity you live too far to let me offer you some jars.
This pickle has a sweet, rich peppery taste and aroma, with strong presence of garlic and spices. The addition of a small quantity of oil makes it smooth and even more delicate. You should wait at least a couple of weeks before tasting, but this pickle largely improves with time.
Every variety of pepper can be pickled this way. The most important is that it is fresh and ripe. The stronger the peppers’ aroma the better the pickle will be. People usually pickle bell peppers, but my preference goes lately to the long Hungarian “kapia” variety. They don’t have as much flesh, but I find their taste and aroma more intense.
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 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…
NOTE: For the readers who live in the USA, the USDA-approved canning method is different. You can find it described here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html.