A couple of weeks ago as I was walking past, the owner thrust a plastic carrier bag at me, jammed packed with red, orange and yellow peppers. "We are going on holiday and these need eating up," he said. It really made my day.
Having said that, there were rather more peppers than I can usually eat in one sitting, so it was time to get preserving. Now I shall have a taste of sunshine (and Kosovan generosity) even in the darkest days of winter!
Skill level: Easy
peppers (orange, red or yellow peppers)
500ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
a sprig of fresh oregano or thyme
2 x bay leaves
2 x dried red chillies
2 x garlic cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
- Bring all the pickling ingredients to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool before using.
- Prepare your jars for pickling (see below).
- Slice the peppers and put into very scrupulously clean jars. Top with the pickling vinegar and spices. The peppers will need to be covered by about 1cm of liquid. I also drizzle over a little olive oil, which acts as an extra protective barrier against the growth of bacteria.
- Leave the jars of peppers in a cool, dark place (such as a larder or cupboard) for about 1 month before using.
- Other things to add to the vinegar include blades of mace, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice berries. It is all a matter of what you like and I like Christmassy spices!
- A quick way to clean and sterilise jars is to put them on a hot wash in a dishwasher. For those of us who do not have dishwashers (well me - I am my own dishwasher!), then wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, then rinse well in very hot water. Place jars and lids in the oven at 160C / Gas Mark 3 for about 20 minutes. If using a dishwasher you can skip this stage.
- Use vinegar-proof lids - you can tell which ones these are by the ring of white plastic on the underside of the lid.
- Alternatively use those lovely spring-clip French pickling jars, which look decorative too.