Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thyme Pickled Peppers

The basil harvest was easy. Make a shit ton of pesto, pack into tiny salad dressing-size containers, top with olive oil, and stash in the freezer. What to do with all those peppers once the ground (or much quicker, the dirt in my containers) has frozen? Pickle them!

Now there isn't a reason to panic. You don't need canning jars and hot water baths and all that get up. We're not talking about actually canning, or preserving them. Much more simple than that, this is a quick refrigerator pickle, the method of which is also employed here.

These little guys are a perfect addition to the familiar cheese, cracker, salumi and mustard platter that is often the weekend lunch format. They would also be good friends with a turkey sandwich as well, the mayo nicely cooling inflamed taste buds.

The weather conditions during the 2010 growing season in Chicago were ideal for a variety of chili peppers- hot and humid. In increasing heat level- bell pepper, anaheim, jalapeno, orange habanero, red sevina habanero, and scotch bonnet peppers. You might want to handle those last couple very carefully, as in with respect to quantity and the use of latex gloves.

A lot of boring vegetables can be turned into tasty items through pickling- think radish, carrot, cauliflower, string beans, hard boiled eggs (technically not a vegetable). My favorite is a quick pickle of very thinly sliced red onion for roast beef and cheddar sandwiches on kaiser rolls with a generous spread of horseradish mayo seasoned with a couple cranks of the pepper mill.

The amounts here will make a few jars worth, perhaps some could be gifts? If you only have a handful of peppers, just keep the ratio of water and vinegar even, and scale down the salt and sugar accordingly. If you are just using bell peppers, you can slice them into rings too. Multiple colors would be pretty.

Thyme Pickled Peppers

1 lb fresh peppers, washed
2.5 C water
2.5 C distilled white vinegar
3 TB sugar
3 TB kosher
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 TB whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 TB whole black peppercorns

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat. Evenly distribute the remaining ingredients among your tupperware, mason jars, or other appropriate containers. Pack with the peppers and then pour in the liquid, covering the peppers completely. Your containers should be full, with a minimal amount of headspace. Let sit for a minimum of 5 days, turning over a few times during that period. Will last for a month at least, refrigerated of course.

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