Nicely decorated bottles of chili pickles are simple, yet eye-catching gifts (or products to sell), especially when you use a whole medley of different colours and sizes of chilies.
It’s no secret – we love chili peppers. And we like them as close to freshly picked as possible. Bursting with freshness, flavour and aroma.
Dried chilies tend to be too overpowering for us. Besides, they lack the complex flavour profile of fresh ones.
Pickled chilies are a great way to preserve that fresh just picked flavour, and they are quick and easy to make.
Nicely decorated bottles of chili pickles are a simple, yet eye-catching gift, especially when you use a whole medley of different colours and sizes of chilies.
When making pickled chili to give as gifts select chili varieties to suit the receiver. For chili heads use extra hot varieties like habanero and tabasco. For soft mouths use milder varieties like Jalapeno and Hungarian wax.
If you don’t grow your own chilies you’ll find a ready supply at your local greengrocer or supermarket.
Home-Made Chili Pickle Variations
Cooking with herbs and spices is all about stamping your own unique personality on simple recipes. This basic recipe is no exception, it lends itself to endless variations and with that, the opportunity to create your own signature pickled chillies.
Pickling Spice Variations
English pickling spice consists of dried ginger, yellow mustard seed, mace, allspice, black peppercorns, cloves and coriander seed. If you don’t have pickling spice, add as many of these that you have on hand.
Or make your own pickling spice. Making your own has the advantage that you can change the proportions which will result in your own unique flavour profile.
Don’t limit yourself to the English pickling spice recipe. In the Middle East and North Africa they make pickling spice with coriander seed, ground ginger, golpar, powdered dried lime, anise, cinnamon, cumin seed and nigella.
Apart from the spices mentioned above you can experiment with: bay leaf, fresh ginger, garlic, lemon grass, lime, olives (in brine), oregano, rosemary, and soy sauce. These are all flavour pals with chili peppers, and they all work well in a pickle.
TIP: You can add the pickling spice in a muslin bag and remove the bag before gifting or selling your pickles. It makes the final product look ‘cleaner’, and it keeps your recipe a secret. You can still add a few carefully selected individual pickling spices for decorative effect if you like.
The vinegar is a key flavouring component (and the only preservative) in your pickles.
Most store bought pickles is made with ‘cheap’ vinegar. This gives you another opportunity to make your home-made chili pickles stand out from the crowd. Use a vinegar with a good flavour profile. And don’t be shy to experiment with blending the vinegar. For example, if you are on a budget blend a cheap white vinegar with a small amounts of good quality red wine or sherry vinegar and a bit of balsamic vinegar. If budget is not a concern, go all out on a good quality red wine or sherry vinegar.
You can also use the sugar to give your pickles a unique twist. Experiment with brown sugar, castor sugar or any other sweetener that tickles your taste buds.
Quick and Easy Home-Made Chili Pickles Recipe
- A sterilized, wide mouth jar with a tight sealing lid about 500 ml
- Fresh whole chilies enough to fill your jar
- 1/2 cup water preferably bottled still water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pickling spice optional
- 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
- Wash the chillies under running cold water.
- Poke a few small holes in the top of each chili to allow the pickle to penetrate them.
- Add the water, vinegar, optional pickling spice, and sugar to a pot and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from the stove the moment it starts boiling.
- Meanwhile, pack the chilies into the sterilized wide mouth jar.
- Carefully pour the just boiled pickle mixture over the chilies, leaving no headspace.
- Let it cool and remove trapped air bubbles by gently tapping the jar on the table.
- Seal, label, and store in the refrigerator.
- Use within four to six weeks. (Ours never last that long.)
Rate This Recipe
Five stars are the highest and one star is the lowest. Everyone has their own thoughts on what each star represents, but for our purposes they’ll represent the following:
5 Stars = Best Ever!
4 Stars = Loved it!
3 Stars = Liked it
2 Stars = Not Bad
1 Star = Barely edible
Recipe and article by Di-Di Hoffman