The summer that lasted until fall

A little piquant relief in the midst of the apple blitz (more to come next week)…. A few days ago, apples and spice cake seemed approps, but it’s darn hot in DC right now. And I bet the local markets are still bumpin’ with sweet peppers, perfect for picklin’.

I have always been an acid girl. When I was a toddler, I liked to suck on lemons and eat raw garlic cloves (incidentally, I was very popular). I assume/hope this isn’t some strange nutrient deficiency, but I have always wanted that little, or big, bite of acid in my food. Lemon zest and juice in sautéed kale, salad dressing with a low oil-to-acid ratio, extra vinegar-y hot sauce. It’s partly a preference, but a balance of the four taste sensations (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) is also what makes food taste good to our mouths. I remember an exercise in my brief culinary training where our instructor passed around tuna with a succession of additions. First, plain tuna. Then, tuna with salt. Then, tuna with salt and mayo (in this case, the ‘sweet’). Then tuna with salt, mayo, and celery (for the bitter). And finally, tuna with salt, mayo, celery, and lemon juice. At last, that final trip around the room with all four elements in place was what tasted ‘right’ to us.

So make a sandwich, turkey or cheese on some good bread. Add some mayo, arugula or watercress, and these quick pickled sweet peppers, which add salt, acid, and a little bit of sweet. I’ve been finding little pints of perfectly-sized sweet peppers at my farmers market, for cheap I should add. Take a bite and enjoy the balance.

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

1 pint sweet peppers, stemmed, cored, and sliced in half
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2-3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
8-10 black peppercorns

1 recloseable jar

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the peppers and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, until the peppers lose their brightness. Pour the contents of the saucepan into your jar, and add the peppercorns. Leaving the lid off, allow the peppers and liquid to come to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.


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