Add Color and Heat!
Chile Peppers - the Number One Spice
When Columbus landed in the New World, he thought it was the Old World. In search for pepper and other spices he came upon chiles. Since it had a peppery taste they were grouped with pepper corns and now we use the combo term - chile pepper. It was within 50 years of his find that chiles went around the world and became more popular than the pepper he was in search of.
This is a type of pickle called "escabeche," which means "brined" in Spanish. It can be used to marinate protein dishes or as a vegetable antipasto. You find this throughout the Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisines.
I like that you can change the spices and travel the globe. I will show you the basic bones to this, and then give you simple to exotic spice blends to travel in your kitchen.
Peter Piper and His Pickling Peppers
Bet you didn't know the secret to Peter Piper's name....
Piper is the scientific name meaning "pepper." So Peter Piper is Peter Pepper, but not related to Sergeant Pepper ;0). Let's make a speedy batch of pickled peppers!
Choose Your Peppers Wisely
Peppers can be mild to gawd-awful hot as you well know. When shopping pick peppers in the spice range your most tenderfoot tasters will enjoy. You can always add hot sauce to a partial reserved jar of peppers to get the heat up without turning away the majority.
Milder peppers are equally delicious as an antipasto, which is the style of this recipe. We want a warm feeling along with crunch and spice. When completed they will be sour-spicy with onions, celery, and carrot sticks to chew on before the meal or with drinks and other side dishes.
For your reference, here is a spice level for a variety of chiles. Plan on the varieties below 8,000 SHU in the chart below. Reserve the hotter ones for making hot sauce.
For this recipe I used Cubanelle (in the Anaheim Pepper range) and Jalapeños.
To adjust the chiles for a tamer experience remove the seeds and the white membrane, which is where most of the heat resides.
If you leave some peppers whole, score an X on the tip and punch a hole in the stem end so the brine will get into the chile.
I prefer to slice them into wagon wheels as they hold up better in the brine over time.
Also, plan on adding a couple TBS. of vinegar (cider, white wine, rice, or malt) after fermentation is complete to lower the acidity and keep the pepper skins in tact.
Easy Peasy Holiday Peppers
- 1 Quart Recipe
Base Veggies - 1-1/2 cups, 1/2 cup each, carrots, onion, celery (aka mirepoix)
Chile Peppers - 2-1/2 cups, Cubanelle, banana, jalapeño, Anaheim, or mix and match for color
Spice - 1 - 3 tsp., dry toasted cumin, and/or coriander seed, or blend (see below)
1 We use a basic chef’s mix of onions, carrots, and celery, called a mirepoix (meer-PWAH). It is the heart of many soups and stews from around the globe.
It is also the workhorse for umpteen antipastos in the Perfect Pickler®. You can buy and cut your own, or supermarkets are now offering pre-cut packages.
2 Build up flavor with a tsp. or more of a spice or blend. You will be like a kid in a candy store at the spice shops. I would not add a blend with chiles already in the mix. For this recipe I added a tsp. of toasted cumin seed. Toast in a dry skillet over medium heat until a few begin to jump in the pan. Cool and add to bottom of the jar.
- Soak the whole peppers or lightly scrub to remove dirt. Slice peppers in 1/2-inch wagon wheels and carefully remove most of the seeds and white ribbing. You can leave one or two chiles whole (score the tip and pierce the stem end so brine will seep in).
- Prepare the carrots, onion, and celery and combine all in large bowl.
- Add the spice to the bottom of a clean 1-quart jar
- Add the vegetable mix to the jar, lightly tamping as you fill until 2 inches from the jar lip
- Make the brine and pour into jar until 1/2 inch from jar lip (view video if needed)
- Install the Perfect Pickler® 4-piece kit according to instructions on page 8 or view the video
- Ferment four days. Place kit in picnic cooler with ice blocks if warmer than 74º
- After fermentation, taste for spiciness and adjust if needed.
- Add 2 TBS. of vinegar (cider, white wine, rice, or malt). This is necessary to keep the chili skins from softening.
Spice Options: Instead of a single spice consider spice blends from your favorite cuisine. I love spice shops or supermarket spice shelves to roam: Penzey's, or World Spice Merchants have a huge selection and can start you on your adventure. After fermentation is complete taste and adjust spice if needed.