20-Something, Hipstercrite Life

How to Pickle: Or Giving the Gift of Botulism for Christmas

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a habit of getting whims and quickly losing interest in them. Working much like a fast-moving disease, I’d tell my mother, “Mom, I’ve got the whims today!” and she would smile at me while quietly counting how many minutes it would take for me to discard whatever project I lugged out and splayed across the living room floor.

I’ve finished very few things in my life- screenplays, college, a beer, The Big Lebowski– but when I do, boy, is it a time for celebration!

Last weekend I started and finished making pickled peppers- and managed to not kill anyone in the process. Yet. At least I don’t think?

In terms of level of difficulty making pickled peppers is not hard- you buy the ingredients, you boil them, you pour them over peppers, you seal the jar- but the process can be long and boring for a young gal who is easily distracted by rays of light and cat noises off in the distance, so this accomplishment was a mighty, mighty achievement.

The project first started by taking my friend, Adley, to an overly crowded grocery store immediately after church let out. As I watched my friend sink deeper and deeper into a ball of anxiety, I fought my way through the hoards of super families pillaging a mound of jalapenos larger than a car. Not particularly liking peppers myself and not knowing what I was looking for, I grabbed the peppers that looked the “cutest” and threw them into my plastic bag.

I soon discovered that Adley had zero interest in watching me boil a pot of vinegar so he left me to my pickling devices. Below I’ve created a pictorial step-by-step guide on how to pickle because creating a water/vinegar/sugar/salt/spices concoction and pouring them over a jar full of peppers is pretty difficult, really.

The recipe I used below can be found here.

1.) I cleaned the pickles and poked holes in them. I’m not exactly sure why I poked holes in them but I think I read that somewhere. It seemed like an appropriate way to introduce a pepper to the end of their life.

2.) I put the ravaged peppers in a jar.

3.) I boiled water, vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic, peppercorn, and various other herbs in a pot.

4.) It smelled like ass.

5.) I lined the jars up, poured the boiling stank over the peppers and thought, “How pretty!” Then I noticed some tiny air bubbles at the bottom of the jars and thought, “Dear Lord, I’m going to give everyone Botulism!”

6.) So I quickly turned the jars upside down and stuck them in water. I felt that this would somehow cure the bottles of their disease.

7.) Throughout the week I thought about the villainous pathogen potentially festering in my refrigerator. It haunted my dreams. Along with Emilio Estevez.

why do our noses turn red in the winter?

8.) Considering I was planning on giving these pickled peppers of death as gifts, I figured I had to potentially martyr myself before killing off my entire friend base. I hesitantly tasted the first bite and to my surprise…it tasted good. Not only did my stomach not instantly liquify, the peppers actually tasted pickled.

I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that I would pickle the living shit out of anything if I could. Butter, fruit roll-ups, Laughing Cow cheese. But more importantly, I learned that when DIYing Christmas gifts for your friends, it’s vital that you DO NOT create biological warfare in your kitchen.

Have you ever tried pickling? How did it turn out? Have you ever given your friends a paralytic illness?

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  • Reply Ludwig December 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Awesome, I want to try some! I'll have to get you to do a guest post for me sometime.

  • Reply Jessica December 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I do a lot of canning and pickling every year. You did great!!

  • Reply A Kitchen Witch December 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I love pickled things, too. My mom is the "pickler" of the family so I just let her do the "dirty" work so to speak and I eat up the goods. Truth is, I'm a little intimidated by the whole process of jarring things…I plan on conquering this fear at some point. Once, she gave me pickled beets (which I love); expecting that same yummy goodness I'd tasted from her beets in the past, I stabbed one onto my fork and plopped in the ol pie hole. Much to my dismay, I think she crossed recipes-cinnamon apples for beets because the beet definitely took on a new taste and not one resembling that vinegary goodness of a pickled beet. : ( Now, I smell before I plop : )

  • Reply Hipstercrite December 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    @Ludwig- Let's have a pickling party sometime!!!

    @Jessica- Thanks! What are your favorite items to pickle?

    @Kitchen Witch- Mmm…pickled beets sound great! I want to do that but beets are such a pain in the butt to clean. Any pointers on how to prepare them?

  • Reply Angie December 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    We pickle beets with our Grandma every year. SO delicious!

  • Reply KeLLy aNN December 14, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I love pickled beets but have never made them.
    I have all my supplies to make jelly but haven't yet.
    The Chook Man loves peppers so I've been wanting to make some for him.
    You made it look so easy,
    and you made me laugh, with the whole "smells like ass"
    {no coffee was harmed in the process of laughter}

  • Reply Adley December 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    That shopping trip made my skin crawl. Glad it was worth it though!

  • Reply Tim December 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    For some reason, I avoid cooking/step-by-step (with pictures!) blog posts like it's Black Death. They are usually way too cutesy for me. And they're always like "ooh, I'm so awesome. Look at how good of a cook I am!" (but we only have pictorial proof, who knows how those photos have been doctored–the proof is tasting the pudding, folks)

    Ok. I'm bein' real bitter. And I'm avoiding the point, which is:


    It was great.

    I suppose it's more compelling to read a post when the stakes involve possible death.

    -Tim (@sailert)

  • Reply theTsaritsa December 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Maybe I'll try this. Your pickled peppers are cute, and holiday appropriate.

    last year my dad tried making his own pickles, but there must have been a bit of soap leftover from cleaning the jar. The pickles tasted soapy and horrible. Yuck.

  • Reply Jenn - There's Your Karma December 14, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Okay, this is random, but did EVERYONE have those white plates with the green flowers? Those were the plates we used when I was a kid, and I recently moved in with someone who had inherited a set from his parents. Was that like the 40-piece Target tableware set of our parents' generation?

  • Reply Hipstercrite December 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    @Angie- That sounds like such a wonderful tradition. I'd love to pickle beats. I must do that next!

    @Kelly Ann- Oh, you should! Pickling really isn't that hard. I'm sure cleaning the beets is annoying though. Try with peppers or cucumbers first! I'm trying cucumbers now. We'll see how they turn out. Jelly is a whole 'nother world…

    @Adley- I'm giving you a jar.

    @Tim- Hahahaha. Thanks for the comment! I'm not a foodie nor read food/cooking blogs, but I know what you mean. To me, most of the time, they're boring. I like cooks who spice up their blog!

    @Tsaritsa- Soapy pickles, eh? Ha. I bought new jars. I didn't trust using old ones. I'm scared that danger lurks in the glass.

    @Jenn- Ha! These plates are my roommate's. I know what you mean though. They're awesomely 60's.

  • Reply Melanie's Randomness December 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    lol your hilarious! I once did canning long ago but haven't in years. I'm glad it turned out to be a success! I guess the ass smell blends in with it all & then transforms into something else? =)

    Melanie's Randomness

  • Reply Jessica December 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    I make a lot of actual pickles from cucumbers. Peppers are good as well as beans (green and wax). I think this coming gardening season I'm going to do onions and garlic, too.

  • Reply Christopher December 15, 2010 at 4:12 am

    I'm not much for the pickling arts but when I was on vacation in one of those small little country towns that people on vacation go to I came across this place that had pickled everything. Pickled watermelon! The guy at the counter with only a couple teeth grinned at me and said he'd show me the good stuff in the back if I wanted. I told him I'd already spent all my money on the pickled beets for my brother and couldn't afford anything special with the bad economy and all. After that I hightailed it out of there.

    I thought the pickled beets would be a good conversation piece for any Office/Dwight fans. No one has ever noticed them. They will sit on one of my bookshelves until then, waiting.

  • Reply Broke Hipster's Guide to Saving for the Holidays December 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    […] Pickle the living shit out of everything- Pickling is cheap and easy to do (read my pickling recipe here). The upfront costs are pickling jars, vinegar, pickling salt, and veggies. Luckily, some of this […]

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