So Monday was a waste of a day, a trip to the city, missed appointments, systems not ready, people out of the office. To salvage something of the day a trip to the Asian food store to pickup specialty noodles, spices, sauces, etc.
One thing that caught my eye was a pack of Thai Bird’s eye peppers. They are quite small in size but very large in taste and heat, the perfect thing to add to a noodle dish or to a curry.
The crux of the issue is that a pack of these is about a pint and any single dish uses 6 at the max for two people. What to do with the rest?
I can get a thread and needle and create pepper garlands to hang and dry, or I can pickle them. I’ll pickle these and create a plethora of ingredients.
The brine once these are pickled can be used as a dressing for greens, just a small drizzle will add a tang and a hit of spice, or a drizzle in a dish of beans will add that same tang and heat. I have also added a drizzle of the brine to chicken soup to punch up the tang, and add some heat to help burn out a sore throat.. (NOT A MEDICAL CLAIM.)
The peppers themselves can be used in noodle dishes, or in a curry sauce, (check the amount of rice vinegar / mirin) as these will add an acidic tang, or they can be fished out of the brine and eaten as a separate condiment.
A pickled pepper is a Capsicum pepper preserved by pickling, which usually involves submersion in a brine of vinegar and salted water with herbs and spices, including peppercorns, coriander, dill, and bay leaf.
Common pickled peppers are the banana pepper, the Cubanelle, the bell pepper, sweet and hot cherry peppers, the Hungarian wax pepper, the Greek pepper, the serrano pepper, and the jalapeño. They are often found in supermarkets alongside pickled cucumbers.
Pickled sliced jalapeños are also used frequently for topping nachos and other Mexican dishes. These peppers are a common ingredient used by sandwich shops such as Quiznos, Subway, and Wawa. Pickled peppers are found throughout the world, such as the Italian pepperoncini sott’aceto and Indonesia’s pickled bird’s eye chili, besides the already-mentioned American and Latin American usages.
The flavored brine of hot peppers is commonly used as a condiment in Southern cooking in the United States.
To achieve the best results and minimize the risk of botulism, only fresh blemish-free peppers should be used and vinegar with acidity of at least 5%; reducing the acidic taste can be achieved by adding sugar. While larger peppers are sliced up to be pickled, smaller peppers are often placed into the pickling solution whole; however, they still require slits so that the vinegar can penetrate the pepper. To avoid botulism it is recommended that pickled pepper products be processed in boiling water if they are to be stored at room temperature; improperly processed peppers led to the largest outbreak of botulism in U.S. history.
As with pickled cucumbers, there are multiple ways of pickling peppers. The most common is as above, pickling in an acidic brine and canned; next is quick-pickled or refrigerator pickling, which skips the canning step and requires the peppers to be stored in the refrigerator as mentioned above. For lacto-fermented pickled peppers, vinegar is omitted from the salty brine; instead, Lactobacilli convert the sugars of the peppers into lactic acid. Such fermented pickled peppers are often used to make hot sauce. At less than 3% acid, fermented pickled peppers are highly perishable if not canned. Sweet pickling with sugar and acid yields “candied” peppers, as for the jalapeños known as “cowboy candy”. Pickled peppers are often made into relishes.
Pickled “Bird’s Eye” Peppers
- Latex Gloves
- 1 pint mason jar, lid and ring
- 1 package Bird's eye or Thai Peppers 1-2 Cups, washed, sorted
- 1 1/3 cup White Vinegar 5% acidity
- 2 tsp Minced Garlic
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Sugar White Granulated
- 1 cup Water
- Wash jar, lid and ring in hot water, set inverted to drain
- Don PPE, (put the latex gloves on, these things are hot)
- Sort all the peppers, trash any with black spots, wilted, or soft or mold
- Wash the peppers in hot ~120 F water
- Lay out to dry
- In a small sauce pan add, vinegar, water, salt and sugar
- Place over medium heat and stir to combine / dissolve solids
- Bring pickling brine to a bare simmer (~170 f), or the pan is beginning to steam
- Whilst brine mix is heating, pack peppers into jar along with garlic
- Whence brine in hot pour over the peppers in the jar and fill to brim
- Add lid and ring and twist to close
- Shake to ensure a good seal, if it leaks, you did not seal properly
- Let sit to cool at least 2 hours, then refrigerate.