Alright gardeners and food preppers….
Here’s an easy one for you. Even if you’re not into gardening, don’t have a garden, don’t want to go anywhere near a pressure cooker or any type of canner, this post is for you! (But you should at least like hot peppers.)
If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to grow and preserve your own food in nothing more than an unsealed glass jar, the answer is YES. Well, a qualified yes. Certain foods…. with certain pH’s… in certain containers… when filled with certain materials under the best of conditions…. then YES! You can create long term safe storage for your food and NOT DIE from it!
Here’s a quick pickling recipe that I got from my mother-in-law a few years ago and every time I serve these pickled peppers, people go nuts and want more. I typically use these peppers as a topping for sandwiches, but they also go very well as an additive in roast beef – adds a bit of heat to the meat, if you will. So, here they are for your eating and sharing delight.
For this recipe, I use the ole family garden favorite of hot wax/banana peppers. The most intensive part of pickling these peppers is the 24 hours you need to brine them, so be sure to give yourself a bit of time.
The brine recipe is stupid simple. Four parts white vinegar to one part water. Then a big of pile of salt. In actual “humans who need numbers” terms, mine went like this, and should give you 2 pint jars of peppers.
- Approx 24 hot wax peppers, sliced and seeded
- 4 cups of white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 c salt
Place your sliced/seeded peppers (I used a food processor for slicing) in a bowl, then add the vinegar, water, and salt. Stir to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. I’d recommend only using a glass or stainless steel bowl for the soaking as you don’t want the peppers to leach into your plastic container, or have metals like aluminum react to the mixture.
The brining process has multiple benefits. It softens the peppers; adds a bit of sour/saltiness to the taste; and I assume is acidic enough to kill anything harmful that might be lingering on the peppers – thus making it safe for long term storage.
This statement definitely can be categorize into the group of “I read it online so it must be safe, right?” I am absolutely not a food safety expert, so please use caution. I most definitely employ very clean methods in my kitchen when preserving food like this and strongly encourage you to do the same. Sterilized jars and lids, clean bowls and utensils, clean hands are a must. No dogs or toddlers. Doable, right?
Drying / Mixing
Once you’re finished with the brine, drain and dry your peppers. If you haven’t invested in a salad spinner yet, do it. This recipe is perfect for a salad spinner. If you don’t have one, that’s okay too. Just drain your peppers (no need to rinse), place them in a clean kitchen towel and give them a squeeze. You’ll want to get these peppers as dry as possible.
Place your dry pepper slices in a glass/stainless bowl and add the following:
- 1 cup of sliced salad olives (in case you’re not familiar, these are small green olives stuffed with pimentos. Available in most grocery stores. If you can’t find salad olives, use small green olives and a jar of pimentos and improvise.)
- 2 heaping Tablespoons of dried oregano
Stir to combine.
Here’s the beauty of this recipe. You’re 90% done at this point. All you need to do now is put the peppers in a jar (with a clove or two of fresh garlic), add oil, and then put on a lid.
However, this part takes a bit of dedication to get everything right.
Air is the enemy for long term storage. There’s probably a gazillion germs, skin cells, dust, dirt and primordial alien ooze floating in the air we breathe every day. We DON’T want that stuff living next to our peppers long term. First step to avoid that is to pack the jars tightly. Don’t worry about squishing or breaking the peppers, just smash them in there. More in the jar is better.
Next, slowly start covering the peppers with olive oil. Go slowly, as you really don’t need that much oil. At this point, I use a clean wooden skewer and compact/squish/swirl the peppers even more to allow for any air bubbles to float to the top. Once all (well, most) of the air bubbles are out, make sure the jar is filled with enough oil cover all of the peppers, and then slap a lid on this sucker ’cause you’re done.
I store my jars in my basement with the rest of my canned goods, but any ole kitchen cabinet is just fine. There’s no need to pressure seal, no need to refrigerate.
And because there is no need to pressure seal, you can reuse any glass jar with a lid – there’s no need to go out and buy canning jars! Just make sure it’s thoroughly clean and dry.
Now, all you need is a nice fresh loaf of crusty Italian bread and perhaps a bit of salami.