I’m sharing more inspiration from my summer vacation in Greece and again, from my parents’ corner of Greece, Florina. The folks in this area love their peppers and the appellation product known as “Piperies Florinis” begin to appear in the markets in August. Travel around the towns of Florina and you’ll see these peppers (here in Canada they are called red shepherd’s peppers) hanging outside of the homes to dry for use in the wintertime.
This is one way that people used to preserve summer’s goodness was by drying peppers in the sunny breeze and then simply reconstituting them in hot water. They can then be used for stuffing and other dishes during the winter.
Another way of preserving peppers is to roast them and bag them in zip lock bags and store in the freezer for future use. This is a more modern technique but today we’re going to show you another olden way, pickling the peppers.
I tried this peppers at my uncle’s when we sat together together and enjoyed some meze and Tsipouro (Greek grappa with anise). One of the meze were these pickled peppers stuffed with shredded cabbage, carrots, more red peppers, minced garlic and long thin European celery that we call ‘selino’.
They are seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper and some sugar to help with the curing process of the filling. Red shepherd’s peppers are in season, you still have a chance to make this meze and in three weeks you will be able to taste Florina on your table.
Stuffed & Pickled Red Shepherd’s Peppers
(makes 8 large Mason jars)
approx. 32 red shepherd’s peppers, rinsed
2 heads of cabbage, shredded
6 carrots, shredded
4 cups of chopped selino (European celery)
6 shepherd’s peppers, shredded
12 cloves of garlic, minced
approx. 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
approx. 1/2 cup coarse sea salt (to taste)
lots of fresh ground pepper
5 cups of white wine vinegar
3/4 cup of pickling salt
15 cups of water
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- Ensure your jars are very clean/sterilized. This page has lots of straight-forward info for you. Into a large pot, add all of your brine ingredients and bring up to a boil.
- In the meantime, all your vegetables and trim/remove the stems from the peppers. Cut around the stem of each pepper but leave a “hinge” in tact so that you may cover the stuffing later. In a large bowl, add the 6 peppers, shredded carrots, celery, garlic, ground pepper, sugar, salt and toss with your hands and allow to steep.
- Once your water has come to a boil, drop some peppers in batches and once the water returns to a boil, count 4 minutes and then remove them with a slotted spoon (this step allows the peppers to gain flexibility/easier to stuff and jar). Repeat until all peppers have been blanched.
- Reduce the heat of your brine to a simmer and cover while stuffing the peppers. Use your fingers to stuff the peppers and close with the pepper’s cap. Place the pepper into the jar and repeat (I set my jars on the counter horizontally so it’s easier to stuff).
- Repeat stuffing all the peppers and fit as many peppers as you can into the jar (I was able to fill four to a jar).
- Slip a thin stalk of selino into each jar and bring your brine back up to a boil. Now add the hot brine into each jar (not more than an inch from the mouth) and with a paper towel, wipe clean the mouth of each jar. Place the seals on each jar and tighten the metal screw bands. screw-caps on each jar.
- Within about half-hour you should hear a pop and that’s the sound of your jars correctly sealing. If a jar doesn’t seal, remove the lid and place in a pot of boiling water (the jar should be mostly covered in water) and boil for 5 minutes. Wipe around the mouth of the jar with paper towel and place a new seal on the jar and repeat.
- Store in a cool, dark spot (cellar) for at least three weeks before opening. Serve as part of a meze offering, as a side with Fakkes or Fassoulada soup.
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