How to Pickle Peppers
Pickling: An Easy, Delicious Way to Enjoy Your Summer Harvest All Year Long
So delicious, so easy, and so many possibilities: pickled peppers are an end-of-the-growing season treat everyone will love.
So where do you start? You may have memories of Grandma or a favorite neighbor preparing and canning pickled veggie favorites. To you, it looked like a lengthy process you'd rather skip. Today, you're wondering: "What's really involved? And can I get more out of my home or community garden by learning how to pickle some of my favorites?"
You can! By pickling your pepper harvest, you'll preserve and enjoy the fruits of your labor well into winter. What's more, you can pickle virtually any variety, from hot habanero to mild banana peppers. Read on for the hot news on how to pickle, preserve and serve this tart and special treat.
Basic Pickling Recipe and Canning Instructions
There are so many wonderful and delicious recipe options for pickling your peppers (in fact, we've listed three of them below).
But if you're looking to get started right now with a minimum of fuss, you're in luck, Peter Piper -- we have the perfect basic starter recipe for all your pepper varieties.
This recipe yields 7-8 pints of peppers, so buy your size and quantity of jars accordingly.
You will need:
- canning jars (Ball jars/Mason jars)
- protective gloves (for hot varieties)
- knife and scraping spoon
- 5 lbs. peppers, any variety (including mixed, if desired)
- 1-2 cloves garlic for each jar
- 6 cups vinegar
- 1 cup distilled water
- 1.5 lbs. pickling (coarse) salt
- 2-3 tsp. sugar if desired
1. THOROUGHLY sterilize jars, plus lids and seals if the directions call for this, according to manufacturer's directions. This step is of vital importance as you will NOT be sterilizing the jars in a water bath after they are filled and sealed.
2. Begin preparing your pickling solution. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Keep hot on the stove as you prepare your peppers.
3. Wear gloves if you will be preparing hot varieties. These can burn the skin. Keep your face well away from hot peppers while processing so the irritant does not get into your eyes.
4. Select just-ripe (not overripened), unblemished peppers with no nicks, cuts or bruises. Wash peppers well in cold water.
5. For larger peppers, core, scrape white membrane away with the spoon (for hot pepper varieties, the more membrane you leave, the hotter they will be) and cut into strips. For small/miniature peppers, leave whole and cut 2-3 slits through the skin of each.
6. Pack each jar tightly with the equivalent of 1-2 garlic cloves (to taste) and as many peppers as will fit to nearly the top, leaving 1/2" space at the top.
7. To make hot peppers out of mild varieties, add 1 jalapeno pepper to the jar as well.
8. Take hot liquid off the stove and pour into jars, leaving 1/4" space at the top of each.
9. Tap jar gently to remove air bubbles. If necessary, pour in more liquid to readjust the space to 1/4" from the top.
10. Cover tightly according to jar manufacturer's directions. Wipe each lid and store in a cool, dark space.
11. For best results, allow the peppers to pickle in their jars at least 5-6 weeks before opening and using. DO NOT re-store an opened jar unrefrigerated. Once a jar has been opened, store tightly lidded for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.
My Pickles are soggy! What do I do?
Yes, that's a problem for a lot of people, myself included. Sometimes the peppers are crisp and firm tasting, other times they are a soggy mess.
Here's a couple tips on why they are soggy, and some remedies.
- use distilled water. Tap water or hard water contains impurities that will break down the skin on the peppers
- completely cover the peppers in the brine
- make sure the peppers are fresh. Place them in ice cold water (with actual ice in the bath) before using them. This keeps the cell structure firm
- the vinegar solution is too weak
- add a small amount of Calcium Chloride (or alum) to each jar
I'd love to hear yours below, because it's still a problem for me!
Serve this appetizer either hot or mild depending upon which ingredients you choose. Cilantro gives the peppers a great Mexican flavor; cayenne adds a kick for the adventurous. Serve whole or cut in halves or thirds for a lighter dish.
Prep Time: 10 minutes (if shredding own cheese, 20 minutes)
Total Time: 20-30 minutes
- 6 whole medium size pickled red peppers
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese
- 2 oz. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
- 2 oz. shredded Colby cheese
- 2 oz. shredded medium cheddar cheese
- drizzle of olive oil
- fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1. Preheat oven to 400F.
- 2. Using a whisk or large fork, whip the softened cream cheese in a small bowl until fluffy.
- 3. Combine Monterrey Jack, cheddar and Colby cheeses in a separate bowl; blend with a spoon.
- 4. Add softened, whipped cream cheese to the three other cheeses. Stir well until blended.
- 5. Spoon mixture into peppers.
- 6. Drizzle olive oil in a shallow pan (about 1/2" deep).
- 7. Bake for 10 minutes, until peppers feel warm and cheeses have slightly melted into one another.
- 8. Spoon cooked peppers onto a serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you wish (careful -- cayenne is hot).
Books on Pickling
Hot Banana Peppers
Spicy, yummy and delicious no matter what the season, traditional hot pickled peppers add pizzazz to every dish. We've added color and an undercurrent of natural sweetness by using yellow peppers for this recipe. Substitute 1/4 lb. of your banana peppers with red or orange for color contrast if you wish.
Serve on deli style sandwiches or with other pickled delicacies (like tomatoes and black olives) on a party appetizer plate.
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cook time: 15 min
- Ready in: 30 min
- Yields: 30-40 as garnish/appetizer
- 1.5 lbs. yellow (banana) peppers
- 3/4 lb. jalapeno peppers
- 1/4 lb. serrano peppers
- 6 c. vinegar
- 2 c. water
- 3 garlic cloves
- one small white onion cut into very thin rings/slivers
- 1. THOROUGHLY sterilize jars, plus lids and seals if the directions call for this, according to manufacturer's directions.
- 2. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a large sauce pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Keep hot on the stove as you prepare your peppers.
- 3. Put on your gloves -- hot peppers can burn your skin. Keep your face and especially your eyes well away from the peppers during preparation.
- 4. Select just-ripe (not overripened), unblemished peppers with no nicks, cuts or bruises. Wash peppers well in cold water.
- 5. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and scrape away some of the white membrane inside; the more membrane you leave, the hotter the peppers will be. Cut into strips. Or: cut peppers into circles or wheels. Cut out some of the membrane from the inside of each wheel.
- 6. Crush the garlic. Portion so that each jar will receive an equal amount of crushed garlic.
- 7. Pack each jar tightly with as many peppers as will fit plus a portion of crushed garlic (and onions if you will be using them), leaving 1/2" space at the top.
- 8. Take hot liquid off the stove and pour into jars, leaving 1/4" space at the top of each.
- 9. Tap jar gently to remove air bubbles. If necessary, pour in more liquid to readjust the space to 1/4" from the top.
- 10. Cover tightly according to jar manufacturer's directions. Wipe each lid and store in a cool, dark space.
- 11. For most intense flavor, store 5-6 weeks before serving and eating.
You have jars of pickled peppers - Now what?
EAT THEM! Straight out of the jar. YUM! Here's a couple other ideas:
- use them in salads
- deep-fry them
- saute them chopped with black beans and tomato sauce for a delicious side dish
- in a crockpot recipe, use them with chuck roast or other beef to add a tangy variation to your favorite dish
- Hors d'oeuvre - hot pepper, a bit of cream cheese and rolled into a slice of salami.
- and, of course, a killer submarine sandwich. Check it out below:
Overstuffed Italian Sub Sandwich
You'll be a hero when you serve this stuffed-to-the-tops submarine sandwich (hoagie). It's perfect for game day, an easy Sunday, parties or picnics.
A sprinkle of oil and vinegar gives it authentic deli flavor and is the secret to this hearty sandwich along with the traditional hot peppers. Buon Appetito!
- Prep time: 10 min
- Ready in: 10 min
- Yields: 6-8
- 2 12 -inch or one super-long (20") hoagie roll from deli or bakery
- 12 slices deli Provolone cheese
- 12 slices deli ham
- 12 slices hard salami
- 2 slices Prosciutto (dry-cured) ham shredded or cut into very small slices
- 3/4 c shredded lettuce
- 2 red tomatoes cut into very thin slices
- red wine vinegar
- olive oil
- 1 very thinly sliced medium or large onion
- handful of sliced pickled hot banana peppers or pickled green bell peppers
- 1. Open the split hero roll(s). Sprinkle the top half with oil and vinegar.
- 2. Add the salami and the deli ham.
- 3. Layer the Provolone cheese on top.
- 4. Add tomatoes.
- 5. Layer the Prosciutto ham on top.
- 6. Add lettuce. Press down slightly.
- 7. Add pickled peppers.
- 8. Close the sandwich. Toothpick if you'd like. Serve.
Don't throw the pickling juice away! - Dirty Martini
There's several recipes for pickling juice. You can use it as brine for any chicken recipe. Add it to any sauce. Use it in salsa ... and, of course, a dirty martini!
- 2 oz vodka or gin
- a splash of dry vermouth (about a tablespoon)
- a double splash of brine from your hot pepper jar
- a couple olives
- Combine all ingredients, shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a martini glass. Remove the strainer and add the olives. Drink!
My Pickled Peppers!
In my garden, I only grew two jalapeno plants and one hot pepper plant. The resulting bounty was one of the largest I've ever had! In early October, I pickled them with the recipe above, and now that it's close to the middle of November, it's time to eat them!