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Using  peppers from my garden. 

This should have be a very short post about pickling peppers. Chop peppers, add to vinegar, then salt to suit your taste. End of story. This is how I have been pickling peppers all along with excellent results. However I was curious to see how others were doing it. In Google land people were making special brine and canning them, pouring hot liquid over tender peppers [ouch], salting, rinsing and then canning them, one recipe even called for blanching before canning! My pickled Jalapeno from last year is still in great condition, in fact it has even improved with age.  I am quite careless with it, it lives in the fridge most of the time though sometimes it is left outside for days on end. Sometimes, bare fingers have fished out peppers when no one is seeing. And yet it has survived.   

Sigh! I can’t let well alone, even if something works well. I decided to pickle a batch using hot brine method per Google and another batch following my usual recipe. It will be interesting to see how they fare over time.

Sterilizing

A very important thing to remember before pickling is; sterilize everything that you are going to use in the pickling process. I put the jars and lids in a water bath and let the water come to a boil and simmer for at least ten minutes. I even stick the blade of the knife in the water bath for a few minutes to sterilize it. I also wash the cutting board with the sterilized water and then air dry everything.

1] My usual method

2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar [Bragg]*

1/2 tablespoon pickling salt or kosher salt

1/2 lb mixed peppers [see Food Note]

*In the past I have only used distilled white vinegar for pickling but this time I used raw unpasteurized Apple cider vinegar.

Sterilize jars and lids. Remove the jars and lids from the water bath and allow it to air dry in a warm oven. I turn the oven on for a couple of minutes and then turn it off.

Meanwhile cut the larger peppers into rings. Remove seeds and discard if you wish. You can leave small peppers whole but they have to be pierced with a fork or slit along the length so the brine gets inside to work its magic. 

Dissolve the salt in the vinegar. You can add spices or garlic to the vinegar at this time if you wish. I added a garlic scape head from my garden.

Pack the peppers in the jar and pour the vinegar over it till it comes almost to the top of the jar. Check to see that the peppers are completely submerged. Any exposed pepper will spoil the whole batch. In fact I keep the jar inverted for a couple of days so the peppers on the top are pickled. The peppers are ready almost immediately though the flavors round off in about a week.

I am sure they will last a year as mine have every time, though it is a good idea to store in the fridge.

2] The method using hot brine

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/2 tablespoon pickling salt or kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 lb mixed peppers

In a non-reactive pan bring everything to a boil except the peppers and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove the caning jars out of the sterilizing bath and pack with peppers* right away while the jar is still hot.

*See method 1 for instruction on how to prepare the peppers.

Pour the hot brine over the peppers.

Wipe the rim of the jar and screw the lid on tight.

Cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator. In fact pickles made this way are called refrigerator pickles. They can last up to a year.

Food Notes

I used super chilies, habanero, cherry peppers and Thai chilies from my garden.  Fresno, cyklon, hinkle hatz and frying peppers from a friend’s garden.

Pickling salt or kosher salt is recommended as they are more pure than table salt, which has additives.

The pickles will discolor over time.

The pickles loose their crunch and tend to get a little soft as they age. 

If you want crunchy pickled peppers make small batches to be used in a short time. In my case I had a lot of peppers from my garden which I had to use before winter.

The brine from the jar can be used in interesting  ways, in salad dressings, to spike  soups and vegetables, on  fries, sandwich toppers…. 

Thanks for dropping by

Best, S.

 

Cooking with Eggplant, Tomatoes, Onions and Thai Chilies from my garden. 

I asked my dear friend Saroj while we were both living in London, to teach me a dish from her native Orissa. She rummaged through my vegetable crisper, pulled out an eggplant and a tomato, handed it to me and asked me to boil it while she looked for other ingredients. How about you teach me something else I said with trepidation at the thought of a soggy, collapsed eggplant. I was already planning a backup lunch if things didn’t work out. Boy was I wrong! This eggplant dish is one of my faves and I have become its ambassador, recommending it to anyone who asks me for a simple healthy suggestion for a side.

Method

You simply boil or steam the eggplant, tomato and potato. Peel the potatoes, then mash everybody else together skin and all. Finely chop a medium onion, a chili pepper or two and a handful of cilantro leaves. Chop this garnish really fine as you don’t want to bite into chunky pieces of raw onion or chili. Mix the garnish into the mash. Add salt to taste and squeeze the juice of ½ a small lemon.

Please take note, even though this is not a sophisticated dish, follow the proportions indicated in the picture. Too many tomatoes will make it runny and too many eggplants will make it very earthy.

The eggplant in this dish is normally grilled whole over a flame, but in London neither of us had a gas stove so she adapted the recipe to include steamed/ boiled eggplant. Why bother with all the bits of flying eggplant skin while grilling or messing with an oven to roast the eggplant when it works so well this way.

It doesn’t take much effort to make this, it is fat free and tastes great. Hope you will try this and not be skeptical like I was at first. 

Saroj, thank you so much for this recipe.

Food Notes

I boil and steam the veggies simultaneously in an Indian style pressure cooker. I put the potatoes in water in a stainless steel bowl and set it in the the cooker. Then I put a steam rack on top of this bowl with the eggplant and tomatoes on it. This way the eggplant and tomatoes hold their juices inside while the potato cooks perfectly in water.

Thanks for dropping by,

Best, S.

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