There are no real limitations to this technique. It is suitable for any size chillies and works with both thin and thick fleshed varieties.
Your chillies should remain crisp until the following year's harvest, a feature you do not get from dehydrating them. Freezing also tends to soften the chillies due to bursting of the plant cells as they freeze.
I don't recommend ornate bottles and jars for the actual pickling process. Use wide-mouthed jars instead as it makes everything a lot easier. If you want to give these away as gifts or use them as a display, complete the pickling process first and then transfer the chillies to the bottle or jar that you want.
Ornate jars and bottles can be located at many of the discount stores and craft stores that cities around the world all seem to have.
Another option is supermarket specials where they are heavily reducing stock to get rid of it. There may be something else in the jar but you can either use that yourself or just throw it out – the end result is that the gift cost you $2.50 plus some chillies and your time.
Take note here also that you will get some colour change in your chillies once they are pickled in the jar - particularly green ones. This is will take place over time as chlorophyll is soluble in vinegar.
OK, here we go !
Pickling Your Chillies
As with the other preserving techniques, make sure you wash your chillies and eliminate any bruised or seriously blemished fruit. They will only go mushy in the pickle and you won't want to use them. Also, if you are pickling for presentation, blemished chillies will really spoil the effect.
Stuff You Need To Remember
A Few Recipes To Get You Started
Don't limit yourself to these two - use your imagination. Try adding other spices to the brine, layer the chillies by colour, put some vegetables in as well, .....
Basic Pickled Chillies
This recipe is for approximately 900g of chillies.
I soak the chillies overnight in the brine first as it keeps the chillies crisper when pickled.
Combine the salt and water. You don't want holes/slits in your chillies yet.
Cover the chillies with the brine in a bowl and put a plate or something similar over them to keep the chillies submerged.
Soak the overnight then drain, rinse well, and dry.
Poke two or three small holes in top of each chilli and pack them tightly in sterilized jars leaving 1cm (½ inch) at the top of the jar.
In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, and salt. Bring the solution to a boil and then pour over the chillies, leaving no space at the top. Remove trapped air bubbles.
Store for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool, dark place before serving.
Pickled Vege Garden
In this one I leave the amounts and particular ingredients up to you.
Arrange your choice of vegetables and chillies in sterilized jars.
Boil the water, vinegar and salt to a boil for about a minute. Pour over the vegetables, leaving no room at the top, and cover.
Allow the mixture to pickle for at least 3 weeks in a cool, dark place before serving.
Indian Chilli Pickle
A little variation I use on a recipe that I originally found in a book by Charmaine Solomon.
1 kg (2 lb) fresh red or green chillies - your choice of varieties
125 ml (4 fl oz) vinegar
2 tablsp chopped garlic
500 ml (1 pint) mustard oil - most asian stores sell this
1 tablsp fenugreek seeds
1 tablsp ground turmeric
2 teasp nigella seeds
2 tablsp black mustard seeds
2 teasp crushed asafoetida - all asian stores sell this
2 tablsp salt
Wash and dry the chillies.
Cut off stalks and slice chillies across into 1 cm (1/2 in) slices.
Sprinkle with salt and turmeric, toss to mix evenly, cover and leave for 2 days in the sun or place in a very low oven for 2 hours each day.
Soak the mustard seeds in vinegar overnight, and grind in an electric blender with the garlic.
Heat oil in a large pan and add the fenugreek and nigella seeds.
Heat, while stirring, until the fenugreek is golden brown, then add the asafoetida, stir, and add the blended mustard seeds and the chillies together with any liquid that is there.
Cook, stirring now and then, until the oil rises to the top and the chillies are cooked but soft.
Let it cool and put into sterilised jars.
Easy Chinese Pickled Chilli
The fish sauce obviously adds a different dimension to this however, the flavour is different from western pickles because of the rice vinegar which is less acidic and of milder flavour.
Place the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan, and stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.
Then simmer, uncovered and without stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is slightly reduced.
Remove from the heat, stir in fish sauce and then add the chillies.
Store in a sealed jar in the fridge - it's ready to start eating after about 1 week and will keep for months.
That should be enough to get you started, or you can check out other options at;
Preserving Chillies Main Page