We love the stuffed cherry peppers we find in gourmet shops, though at upwards of $10 a jar, they can be a bit pricey. But peppers from the farmers’ market come cheap, and with a simple brine, you can get the same results for much less.
I first discovered pickled cherry peppers at the Ruby Tuesday salad bar. I was a suburban teenager and the restaurant was located at the entrance of the local mall. We were bound to meet. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the occasional shopping trip, but what I really wanted was a plateful of those tangy peppers that would explode in my mouth with a burst of seeds and brine (and the restaurant’s crunchy-soft pumpernickel croutons – apparently the food bug was already beginning to take hold). I’d never had anything like them.
These days, I usually see pickled cherry peppers in gourmet food shops, often stuffed with cheese and sliced meats. They’re delicious, but expensive.
Fresh peppers, on the other hand, can be quite a bargain. While I was browsing the multicolored pepper offerings at one of my favorite market stalls, I noticed a box filled with bright red cherry peppers just begging to be pickled. I paid about $2 for the whole bunch.
The few recipes I found suggested removing the tops and seeds from the peppers before pickling, but I really wanted to get that burst that I remembered, so I poked the tops a few times with a knife and kept them whole. The brine was extremely simple – plain white vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
The results? The same tangy explosion of seeds and brine, followed by … hot! My fresh-pickled peppers packed more of a spicy punch than the ones I remember, but not so much heat that it can’t be tamed with a bit of cheese and a cracker or two.
- 12 cherry peppers, washed well
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, cut into thirds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 peppercorns
- With the tip of a knife, poke a few holes around the tops of the peppers. Place peppers and remaining ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the peppers are slightly softened.
- Cool for approximately 30 minutes. Transfer peppers and brine to storage container and refrigerate. Eat peppers once they’ve cooled or store for up to a week in the refrigerator.
- Serve them whole or scoop out the seeds and stuff them with your favorite cheese or meat.