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1-2-3 pickled peperoncini or cipollini

Pickling the small, white cipolline onions is one of my favorite summertime rituals, but this is a first for pickling the long, sweet peppers - peperoncini dolci - that flood the produce shelves as well. For me, pickled pepperoncini (note the american spelling!) has always been associated with pizza or italian subs - a small side portion of limp, pale peppers along with packets of grated parmesan cheese. These symbolic gestures of american fast food culture don't exist here of course, but I really do miss the briny taste and bite of pepperoncini.

The 1-2-3 reflects the three easy steps to pickled success. I prefer crisp/crunchy instead of a soft texture, and while I've only done small white onions and podding radish, I think any firm vegetable that handles blanching should work here. When blanching green beans, it is the immediate plunging into ice cold water that retains a crisp texture, and by that token act it is the immediate pouring of cold pickling liquid over hot vegetables which gives the same results. These are refrigerated items, meant to be consumed within a few months. I alternate between white or red wine vinegar, the latter for reasons of coloring only. Making these requires an extra day in advance in order for the pickling liquid to be very cold.

1 pound small white onions, peeled or
1½ pounds sweet peppers, rinsed clean and dried
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons salt
1½ cups water
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
2 cups white wine or red wine vinegar
Two 3/4 liter heavy jars for pickling, rinsed clean and dried

Combine the sugar, salt, water, bay leaves and peppercorns in a small pot and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature and stir in the vinegar. Refrigerate overnight or until needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch vegetables 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove and drain well in a colander. Working quickly (watch your fingers!), distribute them equally between the pickling jars. The vegetables must be hot!

Immediately pour cold pickling liquid over vegetables until covered. Snap the tops back on and bring to room temperature before storing in refrigerator. I always say to allow to sit for at least a week before serving, but it always ends up that we simply cannot wait and dip into the jars as early as 3 days after pickling.


kudzu said…
Those bitty onions are so beautiful. You've almost convinced me that I should seek some jars and start the pickling season. Thanks for the push!
Ann said…
I love that baby onion pickles. Looks so pretty.
Nicole said…
This looks so delicious. I grew peperonccini once from seeds from Italy and they were great fresh on pizza etc.
zerrin said…
I love pickles, but never had or seen onion pickles. They look so cute with that pink color.
I love pickling, too and it's like a ritual in our house towards the end of summer. The ingredients are almost the same but this method is new to me, I've never boil the liquids or vegetables. I guess it quickens the time whn they are done, which means good to us, impatient foodies. I'll definitely try these onion pickles.
K and S said…
yummy! this method is similar to the takuan that I make too :)
Fern Driscoll said…
These both look yummy as can be - they even LOOK crisp. I love the quick idea for the pickling, even if it does mean things have to live in the fridge. So what? There are plenty of other less lovely things moldering in there already (parmigaino rinds, prosciutto rinds, etc.) Thanks for the lesson.
Rowena... said…
Kudzu - the idea of using red wine vinegar came from MotH, so thanks to him, I can serve pinkish cocktail onions too!

Ann - I like the pink version of the onions in that it really makes them look all the more daintier. Major cute factor ^-^

Nicole - if we had longer, hotter summers, I'd be growing a lot more peppers. Such low maintenance plants that produce a lot, given the right conditions.

Zerrin - I'm with you too on the pink color, and to think that it was my husband that suggested using red wine vinegar as an alternative! And yes we are impatient foodies, aren't we? ;-)

Kat - I figure on pickling carrots and cauliflower next...that way, I can tie it all in for my research on the original muffuletta!

Fern - I'm pretty good at maintaining proper "turnover" in the giant side-by-side, so there's always one shelf free for storing extras. This is especially true during summer, when we eat seasonal as much as we can (which is why I am so fussy over the garden!). Before you know it, it'll be polenta, pizzoccheri, and the heavy foods of winter.
I prefer crunchy, too, and I'll definitely be trying these. Thank you.
Christina said…
Oh those onions are adorable. I must must must make them. You've got my brain working.

I haven't pickled anything this summer yet, though I've canned jars and jars of tomatoes. Must consider pickling. My peppers haven't really come into their own yet; maybe they'll be what I pickle this year.
janie said…
Thanks Rowena-I'm going to start pickling asap-you've inspired me!
Deb said…
my mom would totally make these lovelies last for at least two years! at least that's what it seemed like when i'd go home and see her fridge - LOL! anything pickled never goes bad, was her motto - heehee.
foodhoe said…
I'm drooling! I love pickles... but I'm afraid of food poisoning myself, so it's a good thing there are so many good professional picklers in the area. Your pickles look lovely
Rowena... said…
Welshcakes - you're welcome! The cipollini are sized perfectly for pickling and popping into your mouth.

Christina - it's definitely that pinkish color which makes them so appealing. Great to hear about your canning though. I'm crossing my fingers that next year will be a better one for tomatoes in my neck of the woods.

Janie - you're welcome. I'd say try experimenting with different spice additions: mustard seeds, black peppercorns, garlic, hot chile peppers? Wish I could get a hold of smaller pickling cucumbers.

Deb - for me it was always pickled mangoes in those gallon jars. And your mom was so right...with the amount of salt and vinegar, you could pickle your own self eating whatever's in the liquid.

Foodhoe - I hear your concerns, but see, this is why refrigerator pickles sneak past that, because they are just so darn good that you finish them off in no time. The pickling liquid is really a watered down version of what I use to make sushi rice!
manju said…
Thanks for the lesson. I love pickled peppers but never thought of making my own. Can't wait to see you bring it all together in a muffuletta!

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