Pickled Chilli Peppers


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:

Pickled Sweet Peppers
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).

Fill in empty jars with pepper pieces (no more than 2/3 jars’ height), add 2 garlic cloves, 3 pepper grains and half a teaspoon mustard grains per every 500 ml jar.

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.

34 Replies to “Pickled Chilli Peppers”

  1. I love the simplicity of the ingredients. I am imagining the aroma of the jar once opened – must be amazing. Thank you for the scoville chart as I bookmarked it. Have a good week Sissi! 🙂

  2. We’re doing it again!!! How can we be on the same wavelength all of the time? 🙂 I put up a jar of pepper sauce this weekend using chile pequin, but I have a bunch more left and was wanted to do more of a sweet pepper sauce. And here it is! I’m going to have to adapt this for a small amount, but this is exactly what I was wanting to do! THANKS!!!!! It’s perfect!

    1. Dear, MJ, as big chilli lovers we shouldn’t be surprised that we transform chillies more or less at the same time. I hope you will enjoy them pickled too. Please tell me if you have any questions. I cross my fingers!

  3. Thats a lot of chilis. I love chili pickles. The bottled ones are quite a bit cheaper than fresh chilis – so I do that instead. Have you heard of fefferoni, or is it common in Sweden? Thats the pickled chili they put on kebabs, really delicious. And that what I buy in bottles – its Turkish and mildly hot.

    1. Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. I have never heard about “fefferoni” but then I never buy pickled peppers. You probably buy the same variety then (it’s the only hot chilli variety Turkish stalls sell in my city), but I’m not sure.

    1. Thank you so much, Nipponnin. It’s very easy to pickle. You should try it. Do let me know if you need any help.

  4. I am completely envious of your pickling and preserves, Sissi. I’m partly afraid to do the canning process wrong and that I make too much of one thing. I was eye-balling the jars at the store this morning but I didn’t have the guts to buy them. I think I would absolutely love these pickled chillies, their colour is just gorgeous!

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. You know, most people I know never bother to process the jars. The pour hot vinegared brine, turn the jars upside down and it’s enough! It keeps for years. You shouldn’t worry about this last stage because even if it doesn’t work perfectly it’s just like an additional safety step. Pickling is so easy and so quick! You just need to start one day and you will be hooked for the rest of your life.

  5. Are you behind in your pickling Sissi? 😉 (I’m jealous of your pickling ways… ) — you’re so right, chili and the whole array of lovely sweet bell peppers are primo right now, perfect timing! (and of course garlic is welcome anytime of year in my books ;0). I’m with you, homemade nibbles are the best gifts ever (flowers are easy but do you prefer receiving food over wine?! now there’s a tough question… :)) — heheh, I do! Having too much fun, you may just get me pickling yet. Thank you for the heat scale on the chili; I’m going to check out the site!

  6. Sissi, I like to pickle things, but never made one with chilli peppers…look simple and great to have it handy.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are enjoying your week 😀

  7. I don’t pickle nearly as much as I should… I’ve only really done eggs and beetroot, haven’t really tried anything else. The chillies look really lovely – I love the photo, the garlic looks so bright and luminous sitting there- like little pearls!

    What do you normally eat the pickles chillies with? I know you said “any dish”, but I’m curious how you might eat them? On the side, cooked into a dish, or…?

    1. Hi, Charles, thank you so much for the compliments. I don’t have much ideas about pickles photos… I find them difficult to photograph really.
      I serve the pickled chillies like a side dish with every dish (European, Asian etc.). I put them into sandwiches, on rice, but mainly just open the jar which I had put on the table and dive into it while having a meal. I never cook them (I cook dried or fresh chillies) because I think they must loose their texture and taste. I like them a lot when I have my “snack dinner”, i.e. some cold meats, dried sausages, maybe cherry tomatoes, olives, bread and drinks.

  8. Sissi, when it comes to pickling…you are the ‘queen’ of pickling pickles and peppers. You always add just the right ingredients to make it so perfect and invitingly yummy. I love homemade pickles and peppers, and love to experiment with other veggies as well…but pickles and peppers are my most favorite! Lovely presentation, as well!

  9. Both of these pickled peppers are beautifully photographed! I probably stay with the sweet pepper ones but my husband would love the fiery one!! It must be an exciting time when you finally open this jar to eat! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I remember that your husband loves hot food. I’m sure he would like pickled chillies too.

  10. hm we don’t get those chilis here. We do have small skinny green chilis and dried red kashmiri chilis, the latter is useless for this recipe. Maybe I can use red capsicum? Not very hot but I could add some of the green chili, or better not? Also my yellow mustard seeds got over and I forgot to ask my friend to bring me some. Do you think this could work with brown mustard seeds?
    I am a big pickle fan, they just go so well with different kind of meals!

    1. Hi, Helene. I think you can pickle any chilli or sweet pepper variety this way. I have actually had the yellow mustard problem recently. I couldn’t find it here and almost used brown mustard which is sold in many ethnic food shops. I’m sure it will be great too. The most important is garlic in my opinion.

    1. Thank you so much, Karen. I’m not sure I deserve it 😉 For me these peppers are medium hot, but your comment proves that it’s useful to give the exact Scoville unities because everyone has different heat resistance.

  11. These are some mouth-watering pickles! Yes, it’s the pickling season and I can’t wait to get started and give these a try. 🙂

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