Pickled bird peppers are an easy way to preserve these tiny hot peppers for a longer time since they just show up at the farmers markets or Latin stores for a few weeks during the summer months. The preparation takes about 15 minutes and with ingredients that almost everyone has in their kitchen, like garlic, onion, vinegar and a few spices. In the northern states of México, is not common to see this pepper at the supermarkets. It is usually cultivated in small family gardens or just in a small pot outside the kitchen. People cut the peppers as they need them, for the salsa of the day or sometimes just eat them raw. It still is a plant that grows in the wild out in the countryside, since it is propagated by the birds. But I don’t know for how long, because the cities are growing and every year new constructions are taking over the rural areas.
Last year, it was the first time in years that I saw these peppers being sold at the Latin Store. I was so excited, like a kid in Christmas morning. I was so happy, to finally have some after several years. I had tried to plant them before, collecting the seeds of the dried form of these peppers. I was really excited with my plant and seeing how it was growing, it even had some flowers on it, but it never gave any peppers. Autumn came and my idea of having my own plant went away, along with the summer. I know, from people that follow me on Facebook, that they have a great success with their own bird pepper plants, but most of them live in southern states, like California, New Mexico, Arizona or Texas. There are many varieties of this little pepper, but since it is so small it is not easy to notice the difference between them, but they differ a little depending of the region, its climate and terrain.
Now, I buy a large batch and then pickle them to have them available the rest of the year. The flavor and spiciness is not the same, however they are still better than none. Another way to preserve them is storing them in your freezer; they keep their flavor a little bit better that way.
MAKES 2, ½ PINT JARS
- 4 oz Bird Peppers (About 1 cup)
- ½ cup carrots, thinly sliced
- ¼ white onion, sliced
- 2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp. cumin seeds
- 6 whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 2 small bay leaves
- 2 small thyme branches (optional)
- 1 tsp. marjoram (optional)
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. salt dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
- 2 Clean 8 ounces canning jars and their lids
- Do not remove the pepper stems; they help to easily pick them up for eating.
- Oregano, bay leaves and cumin are the most common condiments added.
- Place ¼ of the peppers into the bottom of each jar, add ¼ of the sliced carrots, then the onion, a few sliced of the garlic, a pinch of oregano, cumin, 3 peppercorns and 1 bay leaf. Add the other herbs is using.
- Divided the rest of the bird peppers into the jars and proceed to repeat step one. Pepper, carrots, onions, garlic, herbs and spices. Divided the salted water between the jars.
- Once you filled up the jars, pour ½ cup of vinegar into each jar. Finally, pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add extra vinegar is needed if you are using a different type of jar. Actually any clean glass jar with a lid will do the job. Close tightly and turn the jar upside down a couple of times. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of space between the peppers and the lid.
- Store jars in a dark and dry place, after a few days they will have changed color from bright green to light gray-green. About 4-5 days, then they are ready to eat. Try to make them in small jars to preserve their flavors. They are a great gift for spicy food lovers. Peppers preserved this way do not need refrigeration before opening.
What is your favorite spicy food or Salsa?