What is pickling? Pickling is the process of preserving or expanding the lifespan of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. This is the definition according to Wikipedia. Or…, pickling is just an excuse to consume more vinegary goodness. That’s definitely the case for me and I’m sure for some of the other vinegar addicts out there but we’ll justify that by what Wikipedia says on the topic.
Pickling things are a great way to add acid to a dish. Adding them to sandwiches, savory dishes or even just having them as a snack. You pretty much can pickle anything and as long as your PH level is low (meaning high acidity in your pickling liquid), your pickles will definitely last for a long time in the fridge. No one ever comes out and says how long they’ll stay good but you should be able to tell by smelling or tasting the pickles if they have gone bad. Probably also a liability thing, no one wants to get sued over bad pickles.
Homemade Quick Pickled Hot Pepper Recipe
Pickling recipes are pretty much very similar all over the world. You can come across different variations but for the most part the recipe consists of salt, brine, spices and vegetables. So I have all these hot peppers left over from my hot sauce journey and I decided to pickle them. This quick pickle recipe is easy to make and a great way to preserve some left over vegetable. I have 2 versions for my quick pickle recipe, a sweet pickle and a salty pickle.
This recipe probably has to be the easiest recipe ever as it only has 3 ingredients. I find that doing a sweet pickle here really work well with the super spicy habanero pepper. The sweetness mellows the heat and brings out some of the fruitiness of the pepper.
Serves: 1 Jar
Sliced Habanero Peppers
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup white vinegar
Place your sliced habanero peppers in a jar.
Place vinegar and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved pour brine on peppers leaving ½" of space at the top.
Close the lid and let cool down. Once cool refrigerate.
You can eat these after an hour or if you wait a couple of days they will be even better. Be careful though as the habanero pepper is really spicy.
This recipe will be a normal salty pickling brine. Also a delicious one with lots of room for customization. That is the key to pickling your own vegetables is that you have all the control in flavoring your brine.
Serves: 1 Jar
Sliced peppers of your choice
3 Cups vinegar
1 Cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
Place your sliced peppers in the jar packing them pretty tightly.
Place all your other ingredient in a pot an bring to a boil.
Pour brine over your peppers leaving ½" space from the top. Close lid and let cool.
you can eat after an hour or refrigerate for a couple of days and they will taste even better.
Now the above recipes I use for pickled hot peppers is delicious and very easy to make. These are quick pickles and are meant to be kept in the fridge. The next level of pickling would be canning and preserving where your pickles could be shelf stable for 6 months to about a year as long as the jars are not open. This process consists of sterilizing equipment and processing jars in a water bath.
Boiling Water Heat processing – Step by Step
Wash all jars, lids, bands and the equipment used for this canning procedure.
Sterilize the jars by placing them in a pot of boiling water. The water does not need to be boiling but a lid is necessary in order to bring the jars to the required temperature in order to destroy any microorganisms.
Prepare lids, funnel and utensil used to release air bubbles from jars in a pot of simmering water. The bands do not need to be in this water.
Prepare the ingredients for the recipe.
Place your ingredients into the jar leaving 1/2″ of space at the top for pickle recipes.
Use the utensil to release air bubbles from the jar by sliding it down between the food and inside of jar. If you do not release the air bubbles the seal can fail and will influence the color and storage quality of the preserved product.
Wipe the rim of the jar.
Using a magnetic utensil to lift the lid from the simmering pot and place centered on top of the jar. Screw the band on the jar firmly tight.
Return the jar to your water filled canner. Once all your jars are done and in the water. Close the lid and bring to a boil. From that point on it is called the processing time. Canning recipes all need processing time in a water bath or pressure canner depending on the recipe and ingredients. It is important to follow official recipes that have been tested by professionals as processing times can vary depending on the ingredients you use or mainly on your elevation above sea level. So for every 1000 feet above sea level the atmospheric pressure is reduced. This causes water to boil at temperatures lower than 100 degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit. What determines the boiling point of water? Most canning books will have a chart explaining this and a guide to look up during your canning. Simplycanning.com also has a chart you can use during your canning adventures.
For water bath canning you must bring the contents of your jar to 100C/212F and depending on your elevation above sea level you will either increase or decrease your processing time. For pressure canners you will increase the amount of pressure.
Once processing is done remove the jars slowly and place on top of a towel to cool down at room temperature. Let the jars cool for 24 hours and then check to see if they are sealed. Sealed lids will be concave (curved inward) and will not show any movement. Jars that have not sealed correctly must be refrigerated immediately.
Once jars have cooled and seals have been checked, make sure you label your jar with name and date processed. Store in a cool place.