I do not like pickles. Pickled cucumbers, that is. I have recently learned that my brother and my step-mother are pickle aficionados. Apparently they try every pickle they can, make mental notes on which ones they like, which they don’t, who makes what kind of pickles and when, what store has what pickles on sale when, and then they discuss pickles with each other. I’m given to understand that Aunt Phyliss makes the best pickles. Personally, I don’t care; I don’t like pickles.
It’s funny, though, because I like pickled other veggies. I like pickled carrots, pickled onions, and pickled okra. I have yet to work up the courage to try pickled eggs or pickled pig feet; I think I’ll continue to take a hard pass on those. But of all the things out there that you can pickle (and there’s a lot), my favorite are pickled peppers, specifically pickled jalapenos and banana peppers.
Every Summer I pickle jalapenos and banana peppers, and throughout the year I eat them on nachos, cheese and crackers, baked potatoes, pizza, sandwiches, in salads, with popcorn, pretty much anything that needs an extra kick. Here, then, is my own personal recipe for pickled peppers.
This recipe is not like other recipes. I pickle peppers as they come out of the garden, so I make different amounts with every batch. I don’t have set amounts exactly, more like set ratios. In other words, you’re going to have to do some math. Let me give you the basic ingredients, then I’ll walk you through the process.
1 part sugar
2 parts apple cider vinegar
2 parts water
¼ part salt
1/8 part cumin
1-2 cloves of garlic per jar
1 bay leaf per jar
Some black pepper corns
Canning jars, bands, and lids
Okay, so here’s my process. After washing all the peppers, I slice them into rings. Throwing out the stem end, I then pack them into jars. I typically prefer pint jars, but have done quart jars before. Honestly, you can do whatever size jar you want. I do it this way to know how much brine I will need. For the purposes of this recipe, let’s say my peppers fill up 4 pint jars.
Now empty out your jars and start on the brine.
For four pint jars of pickled peppers, start with two pints of water and two pints of vinegar, or 32 ounces of both. Mix the two in a pot over medium high heat. When water/vinegar mixture starts steaming, stir in sugar. In this case, 16 ounces or 2 cups of sugar. Add in remaining ingredients as well: for 4 pint jars, you want ½ cup salt, a quarter cup of cumin, 4-8 cloves of garlic (crushed, but not minced), 4 bay leaves, and a tablespoon or two of black peppercorns. Let simmer while preparing jars.
If you are going to eat all of these pickled peppers in the next month or so, there’s no reason to seal them with a water bath. If you plan on saving them for awhile, bring a large pot of water to boil (large enough to cover the jars by at least an inch). In a sauce pan, bring another inch or two of water to boil for the lids. Place jars in large pot of boiling water and lids in small pot of water for 10 minutes to sanitize.
After the ten minutes, remove the jars from pot (leave it on the heat, still boiling). Fill jars with sliced peppers, then pour brine mixture over peppers. Fill jars to within about ¾ inch of the very top. Wipe off lips of jars, remove lids from boiling water and place on top of jars. Tightly fasten lids to jars with band (use hot pads or oven mitts to screw the lids on tightly).
Once jars are lidded, return to boiling water. I boil pints for 20 minutes, quarts for 40. Remove jars and let cool on counter (you will hear the jar lids pop; that means they’re sealed). Wait at least 3 days for peppers to pickle properly (a week or two is better). Store unopened pickles in your pantry, opened jars in the fridge.
Can you estimate how many jars you will need?
Many folks estimate by weight, but I can never remember how much weight is supposed to equal a jar. Other folks are really good at estimating at a glance, but I am not. That’s why I choose to measure the way I do.
Won’t this make too much brine?
Yes. Due to the displacement of the peppers in the jars, you are going to get extra brine this way. Honestly, though, it’s the simplest way I’ve figured out how to do it (math is not my strong suit). You can keep the extra brine in the fridge for a small jar of pickles later.
How long will these keep?
Usually the package of lids (or jars if you’re getting new jars) will tell you how long the lids will keep things fresh. The ones I get from the grocery store have recently started boasting that they will now keep up to 18 months.
Will these pickled peppers be crisp?
Not really. To make crisp pickles it is recommended that you soak your veggies in a brine made with pickling lime before you actually pickle them. I’ve also been told that if you let the pickling brine return to room temperature before pouring it over the peppers (or other veggies) they will come out crisp. I plan on trying that next time I make a batch.