Our pickled pequin post drew a comment from Jim Sherman, a regular reader who said:
"I don't bother with heat when pickling peppers. When I pickle just about anything except radish or carrot, I do soak the veggies overnight in a Kosher brine to draw out as much water as possible, and then dump them in whichever vinegar I'm using.
"Since the seasons (both pepper harvest and Christmas) are upon us, those cute little shaker bottles of Pompeii red wine vinegar filled with small hot peppers make really fun gifts. A few cloves of garlic cain't hoit.
"Robb - have you ever taken halved, de-seeded jalapenos and dumped them in the juice from the jar of bread-and-butter pickles you just finished and let them set in the fridge for a few days? Absolutely killer on cream cheese and crackers."
Sherman's comments came at a convenient time--I did indeed have some leftover juice from a jar of bread and butter pickles on hand. That's because I had just made a gallon of my own homemade bread and butter pickles. Thing is, I put a bunch of jalapeños in with the cucumbers to begin with. Here's my recipe:
Texas Bread and Butter Pickles
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These are a lot spicier than store-bought bread and butter pickles. Add more jalapeños if you like--the sweet and sour pickled peppers go great with cream cheese and crackers.
4 pounds small pickling cucumbers
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 cups cider vinegar
4 cups packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
3 tablespoons dried yellow mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice
2 teaspoons cardamom
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
10 whole bay leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Wash cucumbers and slice them 1/8-inch thick. (The 1/8 inch julienne blade on the Cuisinart works wells for this.) Place the cucumbers in a large container. Peel and slice the onions into 1/8-inch rings and add to the cucumbers. Add the thinly sliced garlic. Pour the vinegar into a saucepan, add the sugar and the remainder of the ingredients and heat the mixture. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers and let them sit at room temperature to cool. Transfer the pickles to jars or to a nonreactive container with a lid and let them mellow in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.
Makes one gallon.
-- Robb Walsh