Homemade, spicy pickles are fermenting in my fridge as we speak.
My boyfriend is a genius for buying a pickle starter set – along with a cheese and hot sauce starter set – for my birthday.
Just one of those would have been enough to keep me occupied for hours, and hours. And hours.
I went to the farmer’s market here in DC – FRESHFARM in Dupont Circle. The place is overwhelming with things I wanted to go home with, but of all of the vendors, I honed in on a pepper stand.
I can’t get over the hyperbolic, certifiable names we give hot peppers & sauces nowadays – to give you a sense of today’s hot sauce market, you can select from such favorites as Ass Blaster Hot Sauce, Delicious Suffering Hot Sauce or Weapons of Ass Destruction Hot Sauce.
Picking a few unknowns, I decided to infuse the pickling brine with the peppers, but only after I had a chance to taste each one. My first taste of a raw Carolina Reaper reminded me of a habanero on steroids. Nearly-identical flavor, and really hot, but not a singe-your-mouth hot. Just a lingering, yummy burn.
The Jamaican Hot Chocolate earned its name – it had definite chocolatey undertones, and made me wish I’d bought pounds of them for freezing.
The others were a bit milder, bell-peppery, and tasted familiar. I seeded and slivered the Sugar Rush Peach into spear shapes which would mingle with the cucumbers. The rest of the peppers, not including the Carolina Reaper, were sliced crosswise and added to the brine as well. I decided to mince the Carolina Reaper for the brine, seeds included. I do not regret this decision.
I did the right thing and made a batch of regular dill pickles for anyone who didn’t want to voluntarily hurt themselves – the brine base of which I used for the spicy pickles.
Nothing too crazy, just the appropriate proportions of vinegar, water, salt and sugar, and the go-to prerequisites for cucumber pickling – garlic, peppercorns and fresh dill.
The fermenting lids from Easy Fermenter we bought claim to help mitigate unwanted aerobic bacteria growth, and expel oxygen from the lid as it ferments. Anything and everything I can do to make these pickles perfect, I’m going to do – and I love specialty kitchen items like this.
So which pickle team are you on – traditional garlic & dill, or Carolina Reaper?
I N G R E D I E N T S
Makes 2 32 oz. jars of pickles.
- 2 cucumbers, cut in half, seeded & sliced into spears
- 6 to 8 3 to 4 inch mild to hot peppers of your choosing, seeded & sliced into spears
- 6 to 8 small, mild to hot peppers of your choosing, sliced crosswise
- 2 Carolina Reapers, minced
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- Approximately 10 cloves garlic, smashed & skins removed
- Approximately 20 stems fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
D I R E C T I O N S
- Heat the water, vinegar, salt and sugar on the stovetop until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the peppercorns and garlic and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a clean 32. oz mason jar, add half the cucumber spears tucked alongside half the dill stems, along with half the pepper spears, sliced peppers, and minced pepper. Repeat for the second jar.
- Once cooled, pour the brine over the cucumbers and peppers, and try to divvy equal amounts of garlic cloves and black peppercorns into each jar. If you’re using a fermenting lid, don’t fill to the top – leave one inch between the brining liquid and the lid. If using regular mason jar lids, fill to the near top.
- Store the pickles in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. The longer the more picklier, and therefore better. Once opened, pickles will last for about 2 months in the fridge.