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.