Pickled baby peppers

I’ve had a glut of chillies and peppers this year, thanks – I’m assuming – to the unusually hot and sunny spring we had here in the UK. My tiny greenhouse is currently bursting with produce compared to how it’s done over recent years.

This glut of produce has lead to jars of pickles and chutneys, salsa, sugo/sauces as I’m sure many of you have made too, but here’s a method for pickling the baby peppers whole, with a mini ‘recipe’ further down for stuffing these with cream cheese (or similar).

I’ve used Mini Bell Mixed variety peppers I’ve grown myself for this, but there are many snack sized varieties you can grow such or buy, such as the more commonly used Pepperdew. You could also pickle ‘fat’ chilli varieties, such as Padron, and large bell peppers, but you’d need to chop these into chunks (and you won’t be able to stuff these later).

This set of instructions is for a 1 litre jar – multiply the volumes up for additional jars.

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon/spatula
  • 1 litre jar which closes water-tight, such as a clip top Kilner jar
  • Apple corer, knife, small spoon, scales

Ingredients

  • 600 ml clear pickling vinegar
  • 360-400 g of small peppers
  • 20 g salt
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
  • 3-5 chillies (I used three Thai chillies)

Method

  • Sterilise your jar – put it in a dishwasher on high heat, sterilise in a hot oven or use an infant sterilisation solution such as Milton fluid (follow the advice on the label). Full details on sterilisation in an oven can be found on my (very old – 2014 – but still good) lemon curd recipe post
  • Wash the peppers and either dry them with a clean tea towel or leave them to dry
  • Take take off the stalks and remove the pith and seeds from each pepper. My top tip for the EASIEST way to do this by far is to use an apple core to screw down over the stalk and into the pepper (stop before you come out the other side!). If there are any seeds or pith left, flick this out using the tail end of a teaspoon
  • Chop the chillies, removing any stalks. You can remove or keep the chilli seeds as you see fit (it doesn’t matter too much either way – it’s all just personal preference).
  • Warm the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns in the saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves – you should not need to let it boil
  • Push all the cored peppers into the jar, with the holes facing upwards so that they will fill with liquid. Don’t push too hard or you’ll split the peppers; before they are pickled fully they are fairly easy to snap
  • Fill with the vinegar slowly. You may need to jiggle the jar or push the peppers down a little as you fill to get as much air out as possible
  • Close the lid and leave for 24 hours
  • After a day, open and push the peppers down a bit more into the vinegar as they will have softened a little in just those 24 hours. It’s likely that some weren’t fully submerged and this will ensure that they all get pickled (any peppers above the liquid level are at risk of going off)
  • If you can’t make all the peppers go under the level of the 600ml vinegar, top it up with a little extra plain distilled vinegar (no need to add any more spices and sugar etc)
  • Leave your peppers ideally for a full week until opening, but they will store for about 6-8 weeks (if all the peppers are fully submerged in the pickling liquid).

After a week they’re fine to use as you would any pickled peppers. Once opened best to store in the fridge and use within a fortnight.

Here’s how to go on to stuff them:

Cheese stuffed baby peppers

Equipment

  • Sieve or colander
  • Spoon and sharp knife
  • Piping bag (with or without large circular nozzle)
  • Bowl
  • and possibly: a sterilised jar up to 1 litre in capacity if you want to stuff them in advance of eating them. Please note though that they are best eaten soon after stuffing.

Ingredients – assumes you are stuffing ALL of the 1 litre jar of peppers (up to 30 peppers)

  • The pickled peppers
  • 500g of soft cheese*. Cream cheese, cottage cheese, brie, taleggio or similar are all good for this
  • 100 ml (approx) of extra virgin olive oil* (I used Filippo Berio Organic Olive Oil) Or use a flavoured oil, such as a chilli or garlic oil.

* If you are only stuffing a portion of the peppers: use about 100g of cheese and 20ml of olive oil for a quarter of the peppers. Scale as appropriate

Method

  • Take out the pickled chillies, shaking off the vinegar and place in a sieve or colander to drain
  • (You can re-use the pickling vinegar again once more, but only for short-term ‘fridge’ pickles. Do not reheat and use. For instance I have used it for a second batch of these peppers – then I’ve discarded it. If you are unsure, just discard)
  • If you are using a very runny cheese, it’s best to push it into a piping bag with a large nozzle and squirt the cheese into the pepper
  • If you are using a semi soft cheese, such as brie or taleggio or even a thicker cream cheese, scoop or cut teaspoon-sized portions of the cheese and push it into the peppers with the teaspoon
  • Place the stuffed peppers into a bowl and pour all the olive oil over them. make sure they are completely coated
  • You can now serve and eat straightaway – this is preferable

If you want to prep them a day in advance, pop the stuffed, oiled peppers into a new sterilised jar. Tip the oil left in the bottom of the bowl into the jar. Please note if you have a very cold fridge the olive oil can congeal – if this happens leave outside of the fridge for a couple of hours before eating

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