One of my favorite ways to use up a bunch of peppers is to quick pickle them. While they won’t last for months like a real pickle, they make for a delightfully crispy side that straddles the line between salad and pickle.
Most pickle brines consist of salt and sugar dissolved in some kind of acid. The balance depends on your personal tastes as well as how long you want the pickles to last. I like quick pickling sweet bell peppers in a mild brine because they have a surprisingly delicate flavor that easily disappears when pickled in pungent vinegar.
Citrus fruit provides the perfect level of acidity while providing a wonderful fruity counterpoint to the sweet vegetable. For this quick pickle I’ve used grapefruit in the brine because of its sweetness and mellow bitterness. The Meyer lemon juice boosts the acidity without any harsh vinegar notes, and it also contributes its own floral fragrance.
The best part about a quick pickle though is its speed. In about eight hours, you’ll have a jar full of crisp flavorful peppers that are mildly sweet and pleasantly tangy. If you’re in a rush, you can massage the peppers in the brine to make them ready to eat almost instantly.
Tip: Most chefs will chop the top and bottom off the bell peppers to save time and allow for uniformly shaped sticks, I find this incredibly wasteful as you lose about 1/4 of the pepper by doing this. That’s why I like slicing the pepper into segments, detaching the core, and then removing the membranes before slicing them up.
Grapefruit Pickled Peppers
From balancing the acidity to the brine to proper knife skills, food blogger Marc Matsumoto explains the technique for pickling peppers in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.
- 3 large bell peppers (in various colors)
- 2 whole cilantro plants
- 1 cup fresh squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice (about 1 grapefruit)
- 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- Slice the bell peppers into segments from top to bottom, inserting the knife into the natural seams in the pepper. This is where the white membranes are, making them easier to remove later.
- Once your peppers are segmented into three of four pieces, remove the core along with the seeds, and then use your knife to cut away the white membranes. Slice the segments into 1/4” wide strips.
- Combine the grapefruit juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large non-reactive bowl, and then add the sliced bell peppers and cilantro. Toss to mix everything together and then pack the peppers into a clean jar, covering them with the liquid.
- Let this pickle for at least 8 hours. Since this is not a true pickle, be sure to keep them refrigerated and eat them within two weeks.
Yield: one medium-sized jar
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.