A Small Batch: Pickled Cherry Pepper Poppers

These cherry peppers are the stars of my backyard garden this summer. They were my “new vegetable variety” which I planted in my garden and these novelty peppers stole the show. They made red color bursts throughout my garden growing better than any other pepper. And the next question is, “What do you do with cherry peppers?” My husband remembers eating pickled cherry peppers on salad bars. These little peppers are served whole; you eat the seeds and all. That was the best idea I could think of too, and so I made “pickled peppers.”

If you are planning a party, I’ve seen ideas for stuffing these little peppers with cheese and prosciutto ham. Yum. This would make a very colorful and tasty appetizer. Cherry peppers are typically sweet but they can get rather “hot” too. Ham and cheese would balance the peppers’ heat perfectly. However, I’m not planning a party in the near future. And I do need to get these cute little peppers preserved in some way.

These begin as green peppers on the bush in the garden. As they ripen, the peppers turn to a red color and become hotter in taste. After this, they quickly spoil and develop bruised spots — some of this has already started. So, “quick” pickling it is.

Making these pickled peppers is so easy. Anybody can do this. My thirteen peppers (baker’s dozen) yielded about two cups of loosely packed peppers and made two jars (8 oz jars) of brined peppers. Rather than processing them in a canner to preserve and make them shelf-stable, my plan was to refrigerate the peppers after cooking in a brine. This approach seemed much simpler.

To pickle the peppers, wash and rinse them thoroughly. Cut out any bruised parts. For those perfect peppers, pierce holes around the tops of the peppers. Cut off the stem to a reasonable length.

Bring the vinegar and salt to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the peppers and lower the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Divide the peppers into two sterilized one-cup jars. (You may also see the term 1/2 pint jar used in recipes.) Add a large garlic clove and a few grinds of black peppercorns or two whole peppercorns to each jar. Add a sterilized new ring and seal. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. And that is it! So simple. If you are motivated, then process them in a canner.

The picked peppers turned out great! They are not as hot as a jalapeno pepper, but have plenty of heat along with a touch of sweetness. And they retain their crunchiness.

So now we are back to how to use the peppers. First, I added the cherry peppers to a spinach salad along with feta cheese, blueberries, cauliflower, tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette. This was a great salad.

Second, I also added the cherry peppers to “Steak Kebobs and Hot Peppers.” These little peppers fit right in along with the steak, tomatoes, onion and other hot peppers. I served the kebabs with rice. This entrée was delicious, too.

Now I have two ways to use the cherry peppers!

We have not located commercial “Pickled Cherry Pepper” jars in either regular or gourmet grocery stores lately nor have we seen these cherry peppers on salads bars. I’m glad I planted these cherry peppers in my garden this year and plan to continue to grow them in future years. If you find fresh cherry peppers in a farmer’s market, try out this recipe for pickling them. You will have a novelty and unique gourmet pepper to show off!

Pickled Cherry Pepper Poppers

  • Servings: 2 (8 oz) jars
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 12 – 14 fresh cherry peppers, (about 2 cups loosely packed peppers)
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 4 whole peppercorns or a few grinds of fresh peppersl

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Wash and drain the peppers. Cut the stems to a short stem. Cut off any spoiled spots. For peppers with no spoilage, use a sharp knife to pierce the pepper several places around the stem end.
  2. Bring the vinegar and salt to boil in a medium-sized pot.
  3. Add the prepared peppers. After bring the peppers to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the peppers for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from stove and pack the peppers and hot brine into two sterile 8-oz canning jars..
  5. Place a large, peeled clove in each jar.
  6. Add two black peppercorns to each jar or, alternatively, grind a few grinds of pepper in the jar.
  7. Add a sterile seal and ring.
  8. When the jars have cooled to room temperature, store in refrigerator.
  9. Peppers can stay refrigerated for several months.
  10. Serve peppers whole or remove stem and scoop out seeds and stuff with favorite filling.

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