I snapped this photo last week before diving into my salad at lunch. I grew everything you see in that photo except the banana peppers, the dried cranberries, and the pumpkin seeds. I will definitely get a plant or two of banana peppers next year because nothing makes me happier than grocery shopping in my own backyard!
If you are an inexperienced gardener and want to grow some greens, I would highly suggest arugula. If you came over to my house at all this summer, you would probably think to yourself, “Why on earth aren’t you eating all of this arugula? Who spends the time planting and cultivating a garden and then doesn’t use it?” I kid you not, I’ve eaten a giant arugula salad for lunch nearly every day for the past 4 months. I can’t eat this stuff as fast as it grows! I would bring in fistfuls of arugula like you see in the photo below at least every 2-3 days. I am going to try to grow some indoors over the winter. I’ll let you know how that goes.
One of my favorite additions to salad are pickled banana peppers. I don’t buy them very often because they are expensive, and I can go through an entire Costco-sized jar of them in about a week. While at my favorite grocery store in Chicago, A&G Fresh Market, I noticed fresh banana peppers were on sale for something ridiculous like .19¢ a pound. I thought to myself, “I wonder how easy it is to make those banana peppers I love so much.” Turns out it is absurdly easy, quick, and cheap (even when the peppers are not on sale) to make them on your own. The hardest part is waiting the 48-72 hours for them to pickle properly.
Pickled Banana Peppers
The recipe below is for a pound of banana peppers. A pound didn’t sound like that much, but it yielded about 3.5 quarts of pickled peppers! Keep that in mind when making these; a little goes a long way. Assuming you do not eat them the way I do, the good news is that they will last quite a while in your fridge due to the high vinegar content.
Also, you generally want a 3:2 ratio of vinegar to water, but you do not need exact measurements for a recipe like this. If you only have 2 cups of vinegar handy and you have to add more water, that is ok, but you should try to aim for no less than a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water when pickling since vinegar is what make things “pickle.”
- 1 lb. banana peppers
- 3 cups vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 smashed garlic clove per jar – 1 lb. of peppers filled 3 and a half quart sized mason jars. Therefore, I used 4 cloves of garlic.
- Slice banana peppers into rings. Remove seeds if desired. Note: I do not remove the seeds because I like the small amount of heat banana peppers have. Banana peppers are not spicy like jalapeños or serranos. They have a Scoville rating of 100-900 (more than a bell pepper, less than a poblano pepper), but some people are super sensitive to heat. If you are, remove the seeds.
- Put the banana peppers into a glass jar(s) with an airtight seal.
- In a small saucepan, heat the water, vinegar, salt, garlic, and sugar until it comes to a simmer.
- Simmer for 3-5 minutes to dissolve the sugar and salt, remove from heat, and cool to just above room temperature. If you pour hot liquid over your peppers it will cook them and they will get soggy. Let your pickling mixture cool. Be patient!
- When cooled, pour pickling liquid over peppers making sure each jar has a piece of smashed garlic in it.
- Store in the fridge. Let the peppers pickle for at least 48-72 hours before eating. The longer they sit, the better they are!