Pickling perfect peppers isn’t all that hard, and (as our colleagues over at Mission Local noted in a recent article) canning is an inexpensive way to produce charming, memorable homemade holiday gifts. Besides being cheap to make, this not-too-spicy Escabeche, with its deep green and red hues, is an especially appropriate seasonal treat. I’ve been making this pickle (based loosely on a recipe from Linda Ziedrich’s excellent book The Joy of Pickling) for three years now and giving it out to friends and family as a Christmas gift. To make about 12 pints of this pickle—a jalapeno, serrano, cascabella, radish, shallot, carrot, and spices mix—I spent about $30 on new jars and all the produce (I had the dry spices on my rack already).
Things you might want to know before making this pickle as shown here: I used about three pounds of peppers, and filled in a little over a pound of the carrots, radishes, and shallots. I eyeballed the dry spices—I tend to try to find a balance between mostly peppercorns (about a teaspoon per pint? Enough to fit in your palm when it’s all crinked up, about an inch in diameter and an inch high) with half as many cloves and a few allspice berries. A bit of lime skin helps keep the pickle firm but I don’t think it’s necessary for this pickle. The vinegar/water proportion is 1:1, with about two teaspoons Kosher salt per cup of liquid. Store your jars in a cool, dark place—sun will ruin the color.
If you want to give them as gifts, I suggest investing in a bit of pretty fabric and twine to adorn the caps of the jars. If you like, tie a “suggested uses” card to the top. Any of the vegetables within go well with eggs, as a relish for meat, and I especially like adding them to a sharp goat cheese like Humbolt Fog.
This pickle takes a full month to ferment, so time’s running out if you want to give these as gifts in 2009. Happy pickling, North Oakland.
Relevant pickling links: