When preserving of own grown produce starts this early in the season, it can only mean one thing, we are having good harvests of those crops. From end of July until the end of September, early October, there will be the smell of Vinegar, wafting through my Kitchen. Not to mention, the clanging of jars, as they get hot washed and heated before the vegetables (or sauces) go in.
Jalapeño are a no fuss variety of chilli. I am always guaranteed to get a good harvest of these plants. They requires no attention what so ever, just water and feed and crop is always prolific with this variety. I do not cook with them much, but when I start harvesting, Chilli Corn carne is a must, using home grown Chillies as well as a tapas dish I put together with cooking Chorizo slices tossed in a hot pan with little olive oil, with slices of these fresh green Jalapeño over a moderate heat. Served with a Spanish Tortilla, they simply taste divine.
What to do with a glut is simple, leave a few to add to when making home made Salsa, with the rest simply brine them. And you will appreciate them in 3 months time, in with your Nachos smothered with melted Cheddar cheese, Salsa, Sour cream and the all important brined Jalapeño. My next batch for brining, will be when the rest of the Jalapeños have turned Red and even hotter in flavour.
As for the Pickled Garlic, we always have to use shop bought preserved garlic, only because the harvests I have had in the past have been so few that they are kept for cooking with only. This year, I have the opportunity to make my own Pickled Garlic, with a good harvest of Lautrec Wight earlier in June, We can enjoy our own preserved Garlic in a few months time.
As for the recipe for the Pickling Brine; I simply heat up 250ml each of White Vinegar and Water, with 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of fine sea salt until all has dissolved and wait until the temperature reaches just above 82˙C (‘sterile’ temperature on my thermometer). This amount of Pickle Brine is usually enough to makes 3 to 4 small jars of pickles,(note: vegetable dependent).
When adding herbs and spices to the Pickle Brine, it all depends on what you intend to pickle. For my Pickled Jalapeño, the only other ingredient added is 1 crushed fresh garlic per jar.
When brining Garlic, I have added quarter teaspoon of yellow Mustard seeds, a few of my own grown dried Coriander and Dill seeds. (In my opinion own grown herbs are stronger than shop bought) and finally a few black pepper corns.
Whilst the brine is in progress; I hot wash the jars and place them into a preheated oven at 100˙C; place the washed bottles on an oven tray to dry out and heat up throughly (Do not put the lids in the oven. Just dry them out with a clean tea towel). After half an hour, carefully remove a jar at a time; fill with the sliced chilli or carefully peeled Garlic, pressing them in firmly, take care not to get burnt handling the hot jars, adding any spices to the jars before topping up quickly with the hot brining liquor. Do the same with Jalapeño slices, adding a crushed garlic half way before topping up with hot brine. Make sure the lids are securely tight. When done correctly, as the jars are cooling down (air inside is reduced), the lids will make a ‘pop’ noise. This means the contents inside are sealed and air tight.
Allow to cool completely, before storing in a cool dark cupboard or pantry for a minimum of 3 months, before using the pickle, as the vinegar needs time to mellow and the vegetable to marinate fully.
Once opened store in the refrigerator, and consume within a month.