I’m a sucker for eye catching produce and in particular am often unable to resist the colourful pepper section at one of my favourite Asian markets in town. They have a vast array, ranging from mild to really hot, including many you simply wouldn’t find in a regular grocery store.
Last time I was tempted by the red poblanos, which I turned into pepper jelly, but this time a pile of sweet, mini, multi-coloured bell peppers caught my eye. They were the perfect subject for the quick pickle treatment for this month’s Food In Jars Mastery Challenge.
As the name suggest, quick pickles are fast and easy. You simply make a brine with vinegar, water, sugar (or another sweetener of your choice) and spices. As they are kept in the fridge they do not need any sort of water bath processing or special equipment. Just prep your vegetable of choice, stick it in a jar, pour over the hot brine and you will soon be enjoying crisp, tasty pickles.
The taste of your final product will be heavily influenced by your choice of pickling spice. Of course, you can just go out and buy a jar of ready made pickling spice but where is the fun in that? Make your own and you can customise the flavour and spice level to your own liking.
For my quick pickles I loosely followed a recipe from Cathy Barrow’s “Mrs.Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry”. I started with her basic spice mix but cut back on the cinnamon, which I often find overpowering, and made it a little spicier.
This was a quick and fairly simple recipe and the peppers were ready to eat within a day of making them. I’ve already enjoyed them on veggie tacos and added to sandwiches and salads. They may not have the shelf life of water bath processed pickles but they don’t look like lasting long anyway.
Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers
12oz mixed sweet mini peppers
1 cup water
1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbs salt
1 tbs granulated sugar
1.5 tsp pickling spice (recipe below)
3 tbs yellow mustard seeds
1 tbs coriander seeds
1 tbs whole allspice berries
1.5 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground ginger
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
Make the pickling spice mix, Lightly crush the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Break the cinnamon into small pieces and rip up the bay leaves. Add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.
Prep the peppers by washing them and cutting them into thin slices. As I used small peppers they were the perfect size to fit in a jar. Larger bell peppers will work but might need cutting down to smaller strips. Pack the peppers into a sterilised quart jar.
In a nonreactive pan combine the water, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the brine into the jar, ensuring the peppers are covered. Once the jar has cooled down pop a lid on.
Leave for about 24 hours before trying. Store in the refrigerator and use within a month.