Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Peck of Pickled (Chili) Peppers

I was so anxious to pickle me some peppers that I didn't even wait until after I made kimchi stew as planned (I did pick up the ingredients for it though, so expect a post on its merits in the near future). I had eaten enough kimchi to squeeze it all into a single jar, freeing up my second for chili peppers. I was so excited about the prospect I took my lunch break to head over to a nearby Whole Foods to gain access to a better variety of peppers than is available at the Shaws near my apartment. But I guess I was a little too excited because I imagined I had a jar that was roughly 2-2.5 times as large as the one actually sitting on my kitchen counter. So I bought a few too many peppers. OK, more than a few... but that's a problem for another day... though if you have any good habenero hot sauce or salsa recipes please leave them in the comments! Besides the habeneros, I also purchased jalepenos, serranos, anaheims, bananas, and poblanos. Anna pointed out that in the Michael Symon recipe, Ruhlman says that thick skinned chilis are best, so I set the habeneros aside for that reason... along with the anaheims, bananas, and poblanos... which while thick skinned, and brining a welcome variety, those chilies are on the large side and take up a lot of jar space... they also having more obvious other uses (chiles relleno!)... so I stuffed just the jalepenos and serranos into the jar, and went ahead with the recipe.

Let me tell you something: simmering sherry vinegar is pungent. Open a window. I would also suggest making a cup more of pickling liquid than you think you need... I did so because I screwed up the sugar and salt math in my head and needed to add some more liquid to get the right ratio for the brine... but after simmering for 10 minutes I had lost enough liquid to have very little left. As a tip for the sugar/salt math... Ruhlman lists it as 2 tablespoons of each for each 3 cups of liquid, which obviously makes it confusing if you are dealing with volumes not in multiples of 3. A tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, however, which breaks it down to 2 teaspoons per cup of liquid... which is probably a little more versatile of a way to think of it, since you probably won't often be making several quarts of pickling brine.

One thing I realized this morning is that I think Ruhlman meant for me to use whole spices... but I used both ground coriander and cumin (even though we have whole spices of both) when I made my brine. A quick Google says the pros use whole spices to avoid darkening... so there you go... that's why mine is so much darker than Ruhlman's. While it's not exactly clear from the recipe... and using ground spices won't hurt you... I suggest sticking to whole spices.

Well see if I have the patience to wait two weeks to dig into these bad boys, but I'll report back when I do.