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Pickling Peppers – The Quest for Crunch

July 8, 2014

Since the beginning of time (or so it seems) The Harvest Manager has sought the illusive crunch in the pickled pepper.  Over the years I have tried pickling lime, alum, grape leaves, and cold pack with refrigeration (thus avoiding the wilting properties of boiling).  I can’t say that any of these methods yielded the crunch we find in commercially pickled peppers.  So far, the most successful method (in this case applied to the pickling of green tomatoes)  was submitted to the blog by reader Michael Brawer.  Buy a jar of pickles, eat them, and put your own produce in the leftover brine.  Refrigerate for a couple of weeks and voila!  Crunchy pickled tomatoes or pickles or in our case peppers.  Michael was kind enough to share his secrets with Save the Harvest readers back in December 2011.

Pickling peppers

Banana Peppers ready for pickling

Pickling peppers-secret ingredients

Secret Ingredients – Calcium chloride for crunch and latex gloves for handling peppers

Adopting the “Never Say Die” approach to pickling, this year The Gardener has tracked down a tried and true approach to the crunchy pickled pepper.  Calcium chloride.  You will find this ingredient mentioned on the label of many commercial pickles.  According to Oregon State University Extension Service (scroll down to the document about Pickling Vegetables, PDF), it’s the way to go.

I used the OSU recipe for “Pickled hot peppers” on page 16 of the aforementioned PDF on Pickling Vegetables, adding 3/4 of a teaspoon of calcium chloride to each pint jar. I processed them in a conventional boiling water canner for 10 minutes.  I’m going to wait a week or two before tasting, so I don’t know yet how they’ve turned out.  I can say they look promising.  Stay tuned.


Where to Buy Calcium ChlorideKitchenKrafts

I got mine from Kitchen Krafts, but sometimes craft beer makers also use calcium chloride.  If there’s a home brewer’s supply near you, give them a try or order from Home Brew Mart in San Diego.


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