These kids sell nopales, a few different peppers, and big bags of tomatillos for two dollars, and since these are some of my favorite summertime foods, I patronize them every week. At this time of the year, I'm filling hordes of jars with salsa verde and tomatillo sauce, which I use for all sorts of recipes through the winter. I have my own tomatillo plants this year, but my fruits are still small while these little ladies have been selling big ones for weeks.
Usually, I wait until the peak of the season when the price bottoms out, and then I buy several dozen peppers to freeze. Peppers are actually very easy to store by freezing: just stem them, pull out the seeds and membranes, slice them into strips, and pack them into freezer-safe bags or containers. If they're not wet when you package them, they won't stick together. They keep in good condition for at least six months, and they don't need to be defrosted before cooking.
I use peppers in many recipes, so they're one of those seasonal foods that I go out of my way to preserve. Conventional bell peppers are a highly contaminated crop, and in the off-season (and sometimes in the on-season, sadly), they're usually imported. At any time of the year, they're often very expensive, especially if they're organic, so it's worth it to stock up from the farmer's market, where it's not uncommon to find them as cheap as 50 cents each. This year, I was determined to find more creative ways to store them than just freezing. And I wanted to find ways to store spicy peppers in addition to sweets (besides roasting them).
I've been seeing some recipes for bread & butter pickled peppers around the Web (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here), and I knew immediately that I would love those peppers. I've never liked bread & butter cucumber pickles, but bread & butter spicy peppers? Yes, please. There are few flavor combinations that I love as much as much as sweet + spicy. (My favorite popcorn topping, for example, is maple syrup + chipotle powder.)
I was a bit hesitant given the extremely high sugar content, but these are meant to be a condiment, or at best part of a snack, so ultimately your individual consumption of sugar should be minimal. Should be. Unless, of course, you love these peppers so much that you include them in all three meals in a single day and also snitch a few whenever you happen to be in the kitchen.
I winged it on the recipe according to what I had available and my own preferences. Some recipes ask for soaking the peppers in salt water overnight, but I avoid extra steps whenever they don't seem completely necessary. In this case, I didn't think it would matter too much if the peppers were softened; it probably depends on the pepper, though. I used yellow wax peppers, but jalapeño or banana peppers might benefit from an overnight soak if the skin is very tough.
How hot are they? Well, I can eat them right out of the jar, but I eviscerated my taste buds long ago. I put them in an eggplant dish for the family and my kids ate them without complaint. The sugar really does temper the heat, but be cautious in any case. Needless to say, be very careful while preparing the peppers; lightly coat your hands in oil, wear gloves, and use oil to wipe off any area where the peppers come in contact with your skin. I also cover my nose and mouth, since I tend to be sensitive to airborne particles of spicy.
SWEET & SPICY PICKLED PEPPERS
2 lb. yellow wax, jalapeño, banana, or other spicy pepper
1 white onion, sliced thinly
2 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 c. unrefined sugar
1/4 c. unrefined salt
2 T. mustard seed
1 t. turmeric
1/2 t. cinnamon
Combine the brine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking regularly, then turn off the heat and let stand 10 minutes. Using the aforementioned precautions, stem and seed the peppers. Layer the peppers and onion in two quart jars. Pour the brine over the peppers and put on the lid. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating. Enjoy!