You know how fermented picklers are obsessed with crispiness? You know how I’m ususally obsessed with crispy pickles? Well, I’m here today to shatter your preconceptions, shock your soul, and change your mind about the constant need for crisp. Normally, I’m with the in-crowd on this one. There are few things less delightful than a pickle that falls apart when you stick a fork into a crock or bowl to fish one out, and even here, I’m not suggesting that you let things go that far, but I will stand firm behind my argument that in certain cases, soft pickles are perfect pickles.
In this case, I’m talking bell peppers. They, like cucumbers, will quickly veer towards softness if not set on a different path with the help of some tannins (you get a longer window with bell peppers than with cukes). With cukes, I find this very unappealing. With peppers, I find it delicious. It’s all in the usage, my friends. I don’t chomp down on pickled bell peppers like I do with other pickled veggies, like turnips, beets or snap peas. I use them in stuff, especially the kind of stuff where a wilty pepper would be the norm. A few examples of where these probiotic pickles work perfectly:
- Put on a pizza fresh from the oven (if you bake them on, you kill the good bugs)
- mixed into or topping a salad, where they appear marinated and add tons of flavor
- blended into a garlicky vinaigrette
- Pureed with broth as the base for a pepper gazpacho
- Blended into hummus
There are so many other ways you can use these (use your imagination), and they will always add something sweet and delicious to your meal or snack.
In case you missed the moral of the story, let me lay it out: there are very few rules to successful fermentation, and most of the time, a good ferment is the ferment that tastes good to you! So be empowered! Go forth and ferment!
FLOPPY PEPPER PICKLES
Yield 1 quart of pickles (if using for soups, it’s a good idea to double this recipe)
If you haven’t fermented your pickles before, take a look at this Pickle FAQ before following the recipe. If you insist on a crispy pickle (sometimes I do), shove some tannic leaves (like grape or edible oak) in there, and cut fermentation time to 4 days at room temp. Seasonings are optional, because this is a pickle I usually do simply so that it’s more versatile for later use.
- 3 bell peppers, any color (I like a rainbow)
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled (optional)
- 1 T mustard seeds (optional)
- 2 small, whole, hot peppers, such as cayenne (optional)
- Brine (1 Tablespoon of salt dissolved in 2 cups of room temperature water)
- Slice peppers into half inch slices and remove pith, seeds and stem.
- Put seasonings, if using, into the bottom of your fermenting vessel. This is to keep the smaller pieces from rising to the surface. Submersion is a key part of fermented pickling!
- Place pepper pieces into jar, packing tightly. I find this more easily accomplished by setting the jar on its side until almost full, and then shoving the remaining peppers in where they fit.
- Fill with brine until veggies are covered. Use the ghetto jar method, an airlock, or your method of choice to submerge.
- Let them sit at room temperature for one week. The brine will be cloudy, and the pickles will be a bit soft.
- Remove weight, replace lid and refrigerate. Eat these quickly (within a week or two) floppiness can become mushiness relatively quickly. If they’ve mushed, that’s a great excuse to add them to soups or stews or to puree for a tasty, salty vegetable dip.