Monday, October 27, 2014

Mock Pickled Peppers

I positively adore pickled peppers. I love them on salads, sandwiches, pizza, with eggs, with a fork straight out of the jar. I can't imagine living without them. Unfortunately, the cost of a jar of pickled peppers is ridiculous. Sometimes I manage to find a great price and stock up (like at my favorite salvage grocery store), but I can go through a whole jar in a couple days. It's sick, really.

Fortunately I've found a fantastic way to save a little money while getting my fix. I reuse the brine to make a batch of mock pickled peppers. While they are not technically pickled, they have the same flavor and are free or almost so, depending on whether the peppers come from my garden or the market.

After I polish off a jar of pickled peppers, I simply dump in some dehydrated peppers from the pantry. I always have a wide assortment of peppers dehydrated and at the ready: jalapenos, bells, Hungarian Wax (my favorite), Jimmy Nardellos, and serranos. I chose whatever type of pepper I think will go best with the flavors in the leftover brine. If a brine is super flavorful, I may use bell peppers, but I find that Hungarian Wax peppers add the perfect amount of spice. Eyeball how much brine you have, then add about 1/3 that amount in dehydrated peppers. Just dump them into the jar, close the lid, give it a good shake and leave it in the frig for a day or so. The dehydrated peppers will rehydrate and soak up all of that flavorful brine. These are delicious and almost as good as the original peppers.

If you don't have a dehydrator, fresh peppers work too. Cut them into rings or slices. Since they won't be soaking up as much fluid as the dehydrated peppers, you can cram in as many peppers as will be submerged. For these, it will take a little longer for the flavors to mingle. Allow a week at least before trying them.
If you have leftover cucumber pickles, you can add dehydrated cucumbers for the same effect (this is my favorite way to use up big, overripe cukes that are dehydrated out of sheer desperation during harvest season). Any other dehydrated vegetable you have lying around could be tossed into some reused brine.

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