From Peter Piper to Piri-Piri: Pickled Peppers

A Pint of Pickled Peppers

This much is common knowledge: a pickled pepper is a pepper that has been preserved by pickling. Well, duh. And, since childhood, you’ve known that Peter Piper** picked a bunch (a peck!) of pickled peppers.

Why pickle peppers? Chiefly, to preserve them, right? AllSpicer Chris remembered that October is also pickled peppers month, and he (and I) have a glut of excess homegrown peppers we can’t eat quickly enough. We also pickle vegetables (and fruits and even shellfish and other unlikely ingredients) because they are delicious.

How do we pickle peppers? Basic Pickling is simple: you submerge peppers (whole or sliced) in brine of vinegar and salted water seasoned with herbs and spices. The choice of herbs and spices (and even which vinegars and salts) is up to you, but might include whole peppercorns and coriander, dill, and bay leaf.

You can make your own blend of pickling spices, or take the shortcut and get a bag of AllSpice Pickling Spice Blend ($3.15 for a 1/2 Cup bag).

You have choices. For a smaller batch of pickled peppers, a quick-pickled pepper recipe like this will give you a supply that will stay fresh in the fridge for up to another month .

If you have lots of peppers (let’s say, perhaps, a whole peck* of peppers to pickle), you might want to actually can them so that the pickled peppers can be stored, without refrigeration, in your pantry.

And if you have a few really hot peppers, and want to make pickled peppers to use tonight, try a batch of Piri-Piri Sauce, a Portugese pickled staple that turns African Bird’s Eye Peppers (or the hottest chile pepper you have on hand) into a fiery marinade and table condiment.

After you choose which sort of pickled pepper to make, remember, as you make your pickles, safety first!

  • If you want to keep them in the pantry, you’ll need to sterilize the jars and their lids. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize the jars and their lids.
  • If you are planning keep them in the fridge (and eat them soon), simply washing the jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly, is fine.

Full, step-by-step instructions on pickling (using cucumbers as the example) are in this AllSpice blog post.

Want to know more? Ready to make your own pickles? We’ve got lots of pickle recipes in the AllSpice recipe database.

*What the heck is a peck anyway? A peck is “an imperial and United States customary unit of dry volume, equivalent to 2 dry gallons or 8 dry quarts or 16 dry pints. Two pecks make a kenning, and four pecks make a bushel.” It used to refer to all manner of food/produce, but in modern parlance, it is mostly only used to refer to tree fruits, especially apples.  A “peck of pickled peppers” would be 16 x 16-oz portions (which is a whole lotta pickled peppers).

**Also, for extra credit, what the heck is the deal about Peter Piper? Yes, he’s a guy in an English-language nursery rhyme, and according to the tongue-twister, he picked a peck (see above) of pickled peppers. This rhyme dates back to the early 19th Century, where it was in (no kidding) the book “Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation” by John Harris. But wait – there’s more. Some writers have asserted that there really was a Peter Pepper — Pierre Poivre (poivre being the French word for pepper). He was a real-life 18th Century horticulturalist, and a French government administrator of Mauritius. He investigated whether the French colony of the Seychelles had the potential for spice cultivation.

The more you know …

Photo credits: Top photo, Pickled Peppers, Ted Sakshaug, Flickr
Lower photo, Spicy Pickles, Elisabeth Lewin for the AllSpice blog