Preserving piquante peppers

Besides the alliteration, what’s not to love about piquante peppers? (You may also know it as Peppadews, the perfect alternative for chilli wuses like me – has a bit of a bite but won’t have you screaming with steam billowing from your ears.)

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We grew them in the garden and popped them in the freezer as they ripened to a lovely shade of orangy red. Freezing them beforehand also makes it that much easier to get the pips out. Here is how we do it:

The night before, cut off the stems off the frozen peppers and scrape out the seeds with the back of a teaspoon. Soak them overnight in a brine made from about two cups of water in which 60 g of salt is dissolved.

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The next day, sterilise some bottles by washing them in soapy water and drying them in a hot oven of about 150 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes. Be sure to let the bottles heat up with the oven, or they might crack.

Meanwhile, rinse the brine off the fruit and rinse under running water. Add the following to a saucepan:

  • 375 ml white grape vinegar
  • 300 ml sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • about two thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves

Bring to a boil and add the peppers. Boil for about one minute. Transfer the peppers to the bottle with a slotted spoon and pack them tightly. Finally, pour in the cooking liquid around the fruit, making sure to get rid of all air bubbles. Seal.

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And that’s it! They will be great, I promise. South Africans feeling very sophisticated in the 90’s would serve them stuffed with feta cheese in a salad. This still makes a great midnight snack. Or chop them up and add to pasta or soup for some zing. My recipe is adapted from this one.

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