Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pickled Peppers

As we move deeper into fall and away from the bounty of summer's harvest, I've made some efforts to preserve some summery foods recently, knowing full well what long months of potatoes, kale, and root vegetables lie ahead after last winter. But it's been a kind of half-hearted effort because there's not much you can fit into this freezer. I could have tried to can stuff, but that scares me and I was too lazy to do enough research to figure out how to get over my fear of botulism.

You can't see it all very well because it's hidden by more usual freezer goods such as tupperwared lunches and various flours and coffee, but my freezer now contains: five ears of corn; six quarts of raspberries; two quarts of oven-dried grape tomatoes,; about 8 oven-dried red pepper strips; and three small bags of quartered tomatoes. I can't imagine that will last me very long this coming winter, but it will at least be good for some casseroles, flavored dips and breads, soups and pastas. I let the berries freeze spread out on a flat tray at first, before combining them in a tupperware, so that I'll be able to scoop them out for smoothies, baked goods, and pancakes as needed.

My mom grew an overabundance of cubanelle and banana peppers in her vegetable garden this year, so I've happily taken a bunch off her hands to make pickled peppers, similar to hot peperoncinis. The recipe is based loosely off Jen's recipe for pickling cucumbers at Last Night's Dinner, adapted for making just one pint jar at a time and based on what I have on hand. My first batch didn't have enough heat, so I also added some jalapenos from the Greenmarket into my most recent batch, and hopefully they'll turn out hotter and spicier. I also must say that I think I like pickled peppers better than my homemade pickled cucumbers (that's why you never even heard about them on here). And I think these peppers would be great on a turkey and cheese fact I might just make that for a picnic this weekend.

Pickled Banana Peppers

3/4 cup hot tap water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tsbp pickling spice
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
Several (about a quart) of banana or cubanelle peppers
A few jalapeno or other hot peppers

Combine brine ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup (this will make it easier to pour into the jar later than if you were using a bowl) and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.

Chop peppers into desired size - strips, chunks, or (my favorite) round crossections.

Place one third of the peppers into a clean glass pint jar, and pour a third of the brine over the peppers. Repeat until jar is full, compressing peppers as needed (a lot more will fit in one jar than you might expect!), and make sure to scoop any straggler spices out of the measuring cup and into the jar.

Refrigerate for a week before eating; pickles will stay good in the fridge for up to a month.

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