My little Scotch Bonnet pepper plant has done me proud this year. Grown from seed it has produced a small but good harvest of 6 peppers. It will continue to grow throughout the winter in the warmth of the indoors and the benefit of a light windowsill.
Chilli peppers are great to add some heat and fire to a dish and are especially good in cold or raw soups as they bring a sense of warmth to them. There are so many different varieties of chilli and all bring a unique flavour, some earthy, some sweet. Scotch Bonnet’s whilst known for their heat also have a wonderful fruitiness so they are well worth using and if you don’t want the heat then the key is to cook them whole not allowing the pepper to burst. The heat with all chilli is in the seeds so as long as you keep the pepper intact you experience the sweetness without the fiery heat.
Having said that, sometimes, both heat and flavour is what you’re after, and for that there is nothing better than a great hot pepper sauce. In Jamaican cooking there are two types of hot pepper sauce. One is the traditional sauce and the other a hot pepper pickle which is an essential for escoveitch fish and works just as well with sautéed greens and vegetarian dishes. This is a simple pickle and the best is always homemade with fresh produce from the garden.
Traditionally, it’s made with carrots, escallions, peppers and pimento, however, the recipe can change household to household as cooks get creative with their favourite ingredients. In addition to these traditional ingredients I add other lovely veg from the garden like ridged cucumbers and a handful of fresh nasturtium seeds (they are best for pickling when young). Nasturtiums are fabulous when pickled and taste a little like capers giving an extra zest to this pickle when used in vegetarian recipes. The unopened jar will store for 6 months in a cool dark place. Once opened it will keep for around a month in the fridge.
Garden Hot Pepper Pickle
- 5/6 Scotch Bonnet peppers (choose a least 3 red, nice if you can get some yellow and green too as it will make it really colourful)
- 5/6 bird pepper
- 2 carrots (julienne)
- 2 cloves garlic (leave whole)
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- 1/2 ridged cucumber (julienne into large slices)
- 10-15 pimento seeds (whole allspice)
- handful of nasturtium seeds (optional)
- Sprig of fresh thyme
- 300 ml white vinegar
Make sure jar is sterilised before using.
Wear gloves when handling the peppers and wash hands thoroughly after completing the recipe. Scotch Bonnet is very hot so it’s important to handle the peppers with care.
Slice 2/3 of Scotch Bonnet with seeds. Keep a few of the peppers whole.
Start layering the ingredients into the jar until is almost reaches the top. Pack the veg in tightly.
Pour the vinegar into the jar to cover the ingredients. Seal the jar with the lid.
Let the pickle steep for at least 3 days, then it’s ready for eating.