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Water Cooler: Pickled peppers are a quick, flavorful staple

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 22, 2021

Jalapeno peppers ripen on the plant. These peppers can be pickled to offer a flavorful addition to favorite recipes.  (Pixabay)
Jalapeno peppers ripen on the plant. These peppers can be pickled to offer a flavorful addition to favorite recipes. (Pixabay)

Pickled peppers are more than just a tongue twister. They are a reserve of incredible flavor, waiting in your refrigerator for the moment you need to add something interesting to a sandwich, salad, soup, taco, hot dog, nachos or your favorite midnight snack.

They’re crunchy, juicy and tangy with a mellowed, flavorful spice and can save you from a boring dinner in a pinch. Here’s an easy way to make some pickled peppers and ensure you always have great flavor at your fingertips.

Before you start, always keep safety in mind when handling peppers. Consider wearing gloves to protect your skin and help prevent yourself from accidentally rubbing your eyes. If your eyes are sensitive, you can wear goggles for extra protection and comfort. Use a sharp knife for cleaner cuts and reduced risk of rupturing cell walls and releasing strong compounds.

Select a variety of fresh peppers, such as poblano, Fresno, Manzano, jalapeno or habanero. Using a variety of colors will create beautiful visual interest when you add them to dishes. Deseed the peppers by cutting them in half, or using a paring knife to core them from the top. Cut them into half-inch strips, then horizontally slice them to around one-eighth inches.

Crush and slice two to three cloves of garlic and add them to the pepper slices in a mixing bowl.

In a saucepan, warm one cup of water, 2 cups of rice wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar or maple syrup. Add a few peppercorns (black or pink). Optionally, you can add a teaspoon of dried oregano, as well as some whole coriander and cumin seeds. Don’t bring it to boil. Only heat it enough to dissolve the sugar and make everything warm and aromatic.

Pack a quart-size mason jar with the sliced peppers, then carefully pour in the warm vinegar mixture. Screw the lid on tight, and turn the jar over a few times to evenly distribute the ingredients. You can let the jar cool in the refrigerator and enjoy after a few hours for a fresh, quick-pickle flavor. After a few days, the peppers will dull in color and deepen in flavor. They can last in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

For those gardeners out there with a large pepper harvest, this works just as well canned if you add pickling salt. You can also pickle them in larger slices, or whole if you want to make stuffed pickled peppers. Thicker cuts will take longer to pickle, so they work well with canning.

Overtime, you can hone in your favorite pepper mixtures, changing out the pepper varieties and flavorings or opting to focus in on single peppers. Their red and green colors also make them a great holiday gift.

You’ll also be able to find new ways to use pickled peppers, such as tossing a few into a breakfast hash, chopping them up into tuna salad, mixing them into some homemade hummus or queso or pureeing into a versatile pepper paste.

Rachel Baker can be reached at (509) 459-5583 or rachelb@spokesman.com.

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