Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gardentime 2012: Pickled Peppers

October has arrived. Although it's still been on the warm side, things have begun to get a little chilly for my jalapeño and Bulgarian Carrot Hot Pepper plants. Today, I picked the last of the peppers from the plants, as they are already beginning to show signs that they don't enjoy the colder nights.

The final pepper harvest wasn't terribly impressive - a total of 12 peppers. I think this overall this year I got about 30 peppers and that's a large outside estimate. 30 isn't a large amount compared to past years, when I was swimming in peppers by the end of the season.

Last year, I simply tossed the remaining peppers into plastic freezer bags whole and froze them. When I needed a pepper throughout the winter and spring, I'd just pull one or two out of the freezer and use them. Frozen peppers aren't good for eating raw, but they're perfect for tossing into a pot of chili or into a stock.

I wanted to get a bit more creative with preservation this year, so I decided to quick pickle half of the harvest. I left the Bulgarian Carrots alone, choosing to pickle the jalapeños only.

I never got on the canning bandwagon, for several reasons. Mostly, I don't want to buy a big canning pot or any of the equipment. So I went the quick refrigerator pickle route. I brought 3/4 cup of vinegar to a simmer on the stove, with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. I went with sliced peppers, so that I can use them on nachos and whatnot. The jalapeños went into a jar and the simmering vinegar went over top. The peppers and vinegar are cooling now, then they will go in the refrigerator and "pickle" for a few days (or a week. Or two weeks.)

There seemed to be a lot variance on the web when it came to how long the peppers will last in the fridge. A month seems to be the safe bet, but there are people who say they will keep for longer. I think the longer the peppers sit in the salty vinegar, the mushier they will get, so it might be more of an issue of quality than safety. But seriously, when it comes to food and safety, don't take it from me. Listen to the USDA and all those people who actually know the food science behind it all.