Today’s post is a great example as to why it’s worth it to get into the habit of scratchin’ up your food. One of us just happens to love jalapeños and will eat them pretty much with everything — possibly even cake. Yeah, the other doesn’t quite understand the appeal of having your tongue practically blistered; after all, that’s what pizza fresh out of the oven is for. But, anyway, we don’t really buy the pre-pickled jalapeños at the store unless they’re on a great sale, which is maybe once a year. Today, we stopped in at the local farmers’ market to pick up some fruit to have on hand for the week, and, lo and behold, jalapeños for 50¢ a pound! That’s a great sale for fresh, organic jalapeños!
Naturally, one of us grabbed handful after handful (about 20, anyway) and stuffed them into a bag, with the intent of making a batch of pickled jalapeños to store in the fridge — we had so much else to do that day we didn’t want to process them for long-term storage. Besides, at the rate they disappear around here, it’s not really worth the effort actually to can jalapeños. But, it is worth it to make a pint or so of those hot peppers, as it takes only a few minutes.
Makes about 3 cups
Use just the distilled vinegar with 5% acidity. No substitutions, because you don’t want to change the acidity level. Buy the cheapest available at the store; it’s not as if the vinegar adds anything but acidity. Use kosher or pickling salt, because it doesn’t have iodine, which can cloud the brine — it won’t hurt. If you’re using pickling salt, reduce the amount by about 1/4 teaspoon. If you need to add more liquid to cover the peppers, make sure to keep the correct proportions, i.e., if you add 1/4 cup vinegar, add 1/4 cup water, and add 1/4 tsp kosher salt. For the peppers, you can use pretty much any fleshly pepper in place of the jalapeños: serranos, guerros, etc.
Procedure in detail:
Slice jalapeños. Slicing the jalapeños into rings makes for a lot of surface area so they cook quickly, and, more importantly, uniformly. Don’t you hate it when you bite into a jalapeño and it’s mushy? Rings help avoid the mushiness caused by overcooking. Once sliced, place jalapeños into a saucepan.
Add vinegar and water. Measure out the vinegar and water and pour over the jalapeños to make a pickling brine. The water and vinegar must be in a one-to-one ratio.
Add salt. To complete the brine, add a teaspoon of kosher salt for every cup of vinegar that you added. Just measure and pour it right in with the jalapeños.
Cook. Over high heat, bring the peppers to a boil. Yes, your eyes might sting a bit while they’re boiling, and you may cough a bit as the capsaicin and vinegar disperse into the air. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook 3 minutes, or until the peppers are tender.
Package. Transfer the peppers to an appropriate container and refrigerate. You can try one when they cool, and they get better with age, too.
How can you beat this recipe? In under ten minutes, we can whip up a pint of pickled peppers. We can double it (or quadruple, or whatever-tuple) if we have more peppers or fewer peppers. They stay great in the fridge for about a month, and, if you know how to can vegetables, you could do that to make them shelf-stable. Since this is such a fast, easy, way to use hot peppers, it has to get at least 5 on the
Scoville star scale.