A friend of ours handed us a jar of pickled habaneros last night.  He had made them a year ago but found that they were just too hot for his liking.  They were beautiful!

I love all things hot but I can understand why these would be a little hot for most.  In fact, I’m not sure that my idea of fun would be to pop one of these into my mouth.

I love the idea of pickled habaneros but going through an entire jar would take me a long time; so I needed a plan.

In the fall we cured some extremely hot peppers (ghost and devil’s tongue) in salt.  That salt has been a mainstay in our kitchen ever since – we’ve been using it to add a subtle amount of heat to everything!  It’s been a fantastic cooking ingredient as well as an accent for salads, meats and more.  I’m particularly tempted to create a compound butter with it as well.

We’ve done the same with the habaneros.  It’s a simple technique: cut them into small pieces (you could even puree them), place them in a clean jar, cover with a bunch of salt (4 or more times salt than peppers) and store in a warm place.  Give them a stir or a shake every day or so and, if you’ve put a lid on them, open the lid after shaking to let air in.  Save the brine on the side for adding to anything that you would use vinegar for.

The salt will draw liquid from the peppers (and any excess brine) and the jar will have excess liquid for the first few days.  But the salt will continue to draw the liquid into itself and, eventually, you’ll have perfectly dry salt (and pepper flakes) that are infused with the pickled heat of the pickled peppers.  You can then use it a little bit at  time to add a balanced heat that won’t completely change the flavor of the dish you add it to.

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