My father loved pickled peppers on his sandwiches, and so does my husband. My favorite pickled pepper is the cheese pepper. It isn’t a spicy, hot pepper, but a more mild, clean-flavored variety. We cannot find them here at the store or in the farmers market so we grow them. The pepper seeds come from www.gourmetseed.com. They are listed as yellow cheese peppers (pepper Botinecka Zuta – Topepo Yellow), used for making paprika and for stuffing. They are round, small, and somewhat pumpkin shaped. They start out white, then turn yellowish, and if you leave them on the vine long enough they turn orange and red. I like to use a variety of colors to make a pretty jar of pickled peppers. I made some in September and a second batch this week. You have to let the jars sit for 6 weeks before you open them, allowing the vinegar to mellow and the other flavors to mature. Pickled peppers make a nice addition to an antipasto platter and are also delicious with roasted Italian sausage and potatoes or chicken. They are good in a cold salad as well.
This recipe has been tweaked over time, the most recent adjustment from Colorado State Extension. The original recipe came from my father’s sister, Aunt Millie. She loved to cook, and whenever we talked the conversation turned to food, what we were cooking, and how we cooked it. She was an excellent cook. She died 7 years ago of cancer. Our last phone call occurred two weeks before she passed away. She told me that she was craving pickled cheese peppers but was too weak to make any. I asked her how to make them and she said she had a cousin’s recipe that she would put in the mail to me, which she did. That was our last communication. I still like to look at that recipe from time to time, written in her own hand. I think there is something special about handwritten recipes from the people we love and are connected to. It gives us something tangible to remember them by. Whenever I make a hand-written recipe it reminds me of the relationship, and somehow the person doesn’t seem so far away.
Pickled Cheese Peppers
2-1/2-3 lbs. cheese peppers, washed and drained
6 c. white vinegar
2 c. water
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. kosher salt
Fill a water bath canner with water and place on the stove to boil. Place five jar lids in a small pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil to sterilize lids. Cut peppers into halves or quarters. Remove seeds. Fill five one-pint jars with peppers, snug but not too full. Set aside. In a 5-quart stockpot combine vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes. Remove the garlic, then pour pickling solution into pepper-filled jars. Run a knife around peppers to remove air. You may need to fill the jars with a bit more vinegar solution, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top. Wipe the jar rim with wet cloth. Screw on lids and water bath 10 minutes for 1,000-6,000 feet above sea level. Water bath 5 minutes at a lower elevation. Makes 5 pints.