My mom and stepdad live in Florida and have a pepper plant on their patio that produces so many jalapenos that my stepdad, at a loss for what to do with them all, used to bring them in by the bagful for a colleague who sat at his desk and ate them whole and raw. “Don’t give them away,” I said. “Pickle them!”
In An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, I came across her method of simply pouring hot vinegar over sliced chillies, and voilà — an instant pickle pick-me-up. I like the fact that there’s no salt or sugar, like in a true brine; it keeps the flavor bright and clean. Plus they also take all of 5 minutes to make, from start to finish.
This quick little recipe — if you’d go so far as to even call it a recipe — will change your meals. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself adding them to just about everything: eggs, pasta, stews, Mexican food, anything crying out for a little kick.
Quick Pickled Chillies
Wash a glass jar well with hot soapy water. I use a small 250 ml (1 cup) jar and it holds enough chillies to last me a few weeks.
If you want less heat in your chillies, slice off the top, then hold the chilli upside down over a bowl and roll it between your hands — the seeds will tumble right out. If you don’t mind the seeds, then just slice the chillies into thin rounds and pack them tightly into the jar. You can add all sorts of extras at this point: whole peeled garlic cloves, peppercorns, coriander or cumin seeds, bay leaves, fresh herbs. If you want to add any of these (or anything else), just add it to the jar along with the chillies.
To figure out how much vinegar you’ll need, pour water over the chillies until they’re covered and the jar is full. Pour the water out into a measuring jug and see how much there is — that’s how much vinegar to use. Pour that amount of white wine vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot vinegar over the chillies, clamp on the lid and stash in the fridge front and center at eye level, where you’ll find yourself constantly reaching for them. They’ll last for a couple months in the fridge, but I doubt they’ll hang around that long.
If you love chillies, do yourself a favor and order a jar of Gran Luchito Smoked Chilli Paste — in Ireland, you can get it at My Mexican Shop. I got a jar last week and mixed a spoonful with some mayonnaise to make an addictive dip.