The crimson specimens among the jalapenos are the elders, of course, mellower in their ripening.
Last week, as the snow was howling sideways outside my office windows, I thought of the pickled jalapenos I made with a batch of chiles from the North Tonawanda Farmer’s Market.
It wasn’t the heat I craved. I like spicy food, compared to the average Western New York palate, but I’m not much of a chile daredevil, one of the guys who measures their manhood in Scoville units.
No, what I missed about these pickled jalapenos was their flavor, and the way the long soak in vinegar brine, allspice bay leaves and sprigs thyme had lent the jalapenos’ warming power to the neighboring beets, onions, carrots and garlic cloves in an entirely civil way.
The recipe in “Rosa’s New Mexican Table” calls for jalapenos, onions, carrots, and garlic cloves, but I had some lovely Chiogga beets from our Native Offerings share, and they were a terrific addition. (The recipe suggests that green beans, mushrooms, cauliflower and nopales, or cactus paddles, would also work.)
The crock seemed like it lasted forever in my fridge, but I’ve missed it since. I’ve found myself eyeing the jalapenos in the supermarket when I don’t even need to be in the peppers section.
Rosa’s pickled jalapenos
From “Rosa’s New Mexican Table”
20 medium jalapenos
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium white onions, peeled and quartered
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
24 garlic cloves, peeled
3 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons salt
3 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
4 marjoram sprigs (which I omitted)
1/2 lime, in 1/2-inch slices
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
12 allspice berries, crushed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
Cut two slits in each jalapeno. Heat the oil in a deep non-aluminum pot over medium-low heat. Add jalapenos, carrots, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the vinegar, water, salt, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, lime, sugar, mustard, allspice and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool.
Pack vegetables and their liquid into clean glass jars. Will keep for 6 weeks, as long as they’re refrigerated and the vegetables are covered in liquid.