Pickl-It Pickled Peppers - 3-Way Recipe

Image Red Pepper MashPepper fermentation was adopted from the wine aging process. The raw peppers are normally ground into mash, together with salt, and fermented before bottling. Aging helps the mash to develop flavors, bouquet and odor.Thesis on Fermented Pepper Mash

Lacto-fermented peppers are a deferred-gratification food. Unlike cukes or carrots, which can be enjoyed within weeks of fermenting, peppers have more in common with a fine wine, which benefits by being tucked away, forgotten, its physicochemical properties needing a minimum of 3-months (6 is better) and up to 3-years, to mingle, creating flavors you didn’t know existed.

Home-made pepper mash, which can be used to create your own bottled sauces, or “as is”, is like a finely-ground salsa. Where fresh peppers are about the “heat”, fermented peppers are all about deep, rich flavor. When we finally made and tasted our first pepper mash, our first reaction was, “What took us so long to make this?”

Each variety of pepper, like grapes, develop their own unique flavors, so playing with combinations of peppers creates yet another level of flavor!

Tip Star You cannot go wrong making fermented peppers. The most difficult part, once you know how good these taste, is waiting for the pickled-peppers or pepper mash to be ready to eat!

Whole fermented peppers or pickled pepper rings need to ferment for at least 3-months, but 6-months is better.

Full-flavored pepper mash is tasty at 3-months, but do yourself a favor and wait for at least 6-months to 1-year, for an even more mellow, full-bodied flavor. You won’t be disappointed!

Image Red Pepper Basket

Recipe – General Instructions

  • Know your pepper varieties.
  • Select fresh chiles that have bright, deep color with a smooth skin and no wrinkles, blemishes or cuts.
  • Organic, chemical-free or biodynamic are preferred, instead of conventional.
  • Because peppers continue to ripen, use immediately.
  • If you can’t use immediately and must store them, do not wrap in plastic, but instead, place them in a single layer on a cotton towel, rolling them up jelly-roll style – storing in the refrigerator.
  • When ready to use, clean the peppers – washing away sand or dried-on leaf material.
  • Trim off stems.
  • Remove the seeds if you want your heat on the mild-side.
  • Please don’t forget to wear gloves, don’t touch your eyes, and don’t breath in their fumes – especially important to remember with ground or pureed peppers!

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Graphic No 1 Whole Peppers or Slices in a 5.4% brine

Image Cherry Peppers

  1. Place whole peppers or slices in Pickl-It container, leaving at least 1 1/2-head-space between the top of the peppers and the bottom of the lid.
  2. Cover them with a 5.4% brine.
  3. Place the Pickl-It Dunk’R on top the peppers, holding them under the brine.
  4. If you have difficulty keeping peppers under the brine, refer to this faq.
  5. Latch the Pickl-It, place water in the airlock
  6. Place Pickl-It container in dark corner of kitchen counter, covering sides with a towel to block light; let sit for 5-10 days (cooler temperatures, below 68F, take longer; temperatures over 72F take shorter amounts of time)
  7. After 5-10 days, move the Pickl-It to the refrigerator, keeping the airlock in place. The peppers will continue to ferment, emitting carbon dioxide.
  8. Continue to ferment, refrigerated, at least 3 months, but 6 months is even better.
  9. Change the water in the airlock weekly, as bad bacteria can grow in stale water. Another option is add vegetable glycerin to the airlock in a 50/50 blend.


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Graphic No 2 Pepper slices, such as jalapeno, can be fermented with or without the seeds.

Image Jalapeno Brine Use the same cleaning and preparation procedure for slices, as you would for whole peppers. The same peppers that can be fermented whole, are also wonderful as slices.

  1. Remove the stem, and any dried tips, slicing peppers into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. 1-lb of whole peppers will easily fit into a 3/4-liter Pickl-It.
  3. Leave about 1 1/2-inches of headspace between the top of the peppers and the underside of the Pickl-It lid.
  4. Use a 5.4% brine following the same procedure as the whole peppers.
  5. Place the Pickl-It Dunk’R on top the peppers, holding them under the brine.
  6. If you have difficulty keeping peppers under the brine, refer to this faq.
  7. Latch the Pickl-It, place water in the airlock.
  8. Place Pickl-It container in dark corner of kitchen counter, covering sides with a towel to block light; let sit for 5-10 days (cooler temperatures, below 68F, take longer; temperatures over 72F take shorter amounts of time)
  9. After 5-10 days, move the Pickl-It to the refrigerator, keeping the airlock in place. The peppers will continue to ferment, emitting carbon dioxide.
  10. Continue to ferment, refrigerated, at least 3 months, but 6 months is even better.
  11. Change the water in the airlock weekly, so it doesn’t become stale.

Removing some of the seeds makes the slices more “kid-friendly”.

Imagine Deseeding Jalapeno We’ve found the fastest way to move seeds, is by using a funnel tip that’s slightly smaller than the pepper slice diameter. Push the funnel into the center of the pepper ring, “cutting” the seeds from the pepper flesh, much like a cookie cutter cuts shapes out of dough. Some seeds will cling to the pepper rings, but we’re not diligent in trying to remove all of them.


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Graphic No 3 Dry-Brine Pepper Mash

Pepper mash uses a dry-brining technique – salt, added to the pureed peppers creates its own brine, drawing the water from the pepper cells.

One pound of pureed peppers produces one pint of mash – enough for 1 3/4-liter Pickl-It.

Removing about 75% of the seeds, makes them more family-friendly. On the other hand, a few more seeds might keep our 9-year-old from double-dipping, eating the mash by the spoonfuls!

To make a pepper mash, any of the varieties on this page, labeled, “Ferment” make a wonderful mash! Jalapeno mash is very similar in flavor to salsa verde, adding a warm glow to a wide variety of foods. Cherry pepper mash is a superb replacement for traditional red-bottled sauces. We haven’t gone as far as to make our mashes into sauces, because, we’ve been enjoying them too much as they are!

For a chunky mash texture, use your food processor with its steel blade. A Vita-Mix will create a much smoother puree – almost that of a smooth sauce, but be careful. Vita-Mix tend to run “hot”, which can kill off important enzymes and heat liable nutrients of your peppers, so don’t puree longer than 20-seconds.

Image Jalapeno Pepper Mash

  1. Follow the general directions on choosing and cleaning peppers.
  2. Weigh the final quantity of peppers freed of their stems and seeds. This is important because the amount of salt you’re going to use is determined by the total weight of her peppers.
  3. You need to add 6-10% of your pepper weight, of salt, to the peppers prior to pureeing or mashing. That may seem like a lot of salt (it is), but salt is crucial for keeping your pepper mash safe from mold development, enhancing flavors, reducing bitterness, and providing minerals to the lactic-acid bacteria.
  4. Puree the seeded peppers and salt. Be careful – don’t place your face over the container! When you take the lid off, pepper fumes can be intense, burning delicate eye and nose tissue!
  5. Scrape the pepper mash into a Pickl-It container.
  6. There’s no need to use the Dunk’R.
  7. Latch Pickl-It lid into place.
  8. Fill airlock with 1 1/2 T water.
  9. Place Pickl-It in a dark corner, at room temperature, and cover sides with a towel, to keep UV light out of the ferment.
  10. After 5-10 days (5-days if temperature is above 72F, and more if temperature is below 68F), refrigerate the mash, keeping the airlock in place. Change the airlock water on a weekly basis.
  11. If, after a few weeks, you see separation – solids rising to the top, and liquid on the bottom – simply stir the two together.
  12. If you see a light gray “fuzz” – normal yeast growth – developing on the top layer, simply scrape it free.
  13. You can add more pureed peppers and salt to the mash. The already-fermented portion will serve as a “starter” for the new peppers. You may also choose to divide the pepper mash in half, adding new peppers to part of it, while allowing the other half to mature to the point you can eat it! Wait at least 6-months!
Tip Star How to Measure 6-10% Salt

Always, always, always weigh your salt, resisting the urge to switch to tablespoon or cup measurements. All salt has a different weight depending on the size of its crystal and humidity.

  • For 1-pound of peppers use 1-ounce (by weight) of salt = 6%;
  • If, after a week, or so, your mash develops surface mold, simply scrape it off and stir an additional 1/2-ounce (by weight) of salt for a total of 10%.
  • Exceeding 10% will reduce the efficiency of the lactic-acid bacteria, and potentially hinder their development, so resist the urge to add more salt beyond 10%.
  • We prefer unrefined Himalayan Pink Salt, but any high-quality, unrefined sea salt will do. Read here why everyday table salt should not be used during lacto-fermentation.

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