June 19, 2009 2:45 PM
Pickled Jalapeño Kind of Gal
POSTED IN: Recipes , Salsas, Pickles and Jams
TAGS: carrots , chiles , garlic , Jalapenos , onion , pickled , salsa , side , spices , vinegar
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I am not one to carry a bottle of hot sauce in my bag wherever I go. I do have an uncle that proudly does. Wherever he travels, his Tabasco sauce eagerly jumps out of his bag and splashes its somewhat flavorless heat on whatever food it happens to come across. Yep, fancy restaurants too. 

Now I know... Mexicans have the reputation of loving to eat everything with chiles. I admit this to be true. As Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, Spanish priest, defender of indigenous people, and chronicler of early colonial times said in the XVI century: Without chiles, Mexicans do not consider they have eaten. Hmmmm... the same can be said today. With the caveat, that it's not just the heat that we crave.

Most Mexicans are picky chile eaters. Since we have so many varieties, and such varied and distinct ways to use and prepare them, we can exquisitely discriminate how and what we pair them with. We love their different flavors, textures, fragrances and personalities. It is like considering different kinds of fruits. So my uncle is more an exception than the rule.

All this to say, without any excuse, that although I am not a hot sauce bottle kind of woman, I am a pickled Jalapeño kind of gal.

But I do have my limits... just like reasonable limits most pickled pickles kinds of people have. They may eat a pickle with different kinds of sandwiches; how about a schnitzel with mashed potatoes; it sounds good with a thick and juicy veal sausage with sauerkraut; and of course a fresh bagel with lox... But it would be surprising to see pickled pickles kinds of people eat them with a bowl of Spaghetti Marinara.

Pickled jalapeno kind of gal 2.jpg
(Photo of Jalapeños, carrots and onions macerating in kosher salt in pickling process)

I don't want to judge, people should eat whatever they want along whatever pickle or salsa they want. But it does make sense to have some guidelines to help us define and enjoy the world we live in. So no pickles with ice cream for me. And no... my pregnancies were not an excuse for that either. 

Yet, it was really funny to see the surprise on my friends faces when we walked into a Pizzeria in Cape May about a month ago, after I asked the Pizza man if he had pickled Jalapeños as a side or as a topping. His face was not only as surprised as my friends' were, but it also gave me the quick and definite answer. NO! (which really felt like an are you crazy woman?). 

So there you go, if I were to move to a part of the world where there are no pickled Jalapeños, or fresh Jalapeños to pickle, I would bring my own (along with a can of chipotles chiles in adobo sauce and a jar of homemade salsa verde).

When Mimi and David, a couple of our surprised friends, invited us to their house for a homemade Pizza party this coming Saturday I asked "what can I bring, please?". But then, I couldn't help but say "instead of the salad... can I bring some homemade pickled Jalapeños?". Ok, that wasn't very polite of me..

Pickled jalapeno kind of gal 3b.jpg
(Already pickled Jalapeños in their glass jars, ready to go to our friends' house)

Let me please explain: Pickled Jalapeños may not work with everything, but they do work on an incredible number of things: sandwiches, tortas, quesadillas, as a side to scrambled eggs, enfrijoladas, grilled meats, rice.. I could go on... Oh! My Colombian friend Tamara, just as plenty of Mexicans do, nibbles on them right out of the jar.

The important thing here is that they are spectacular over Pizza. So much that Pizzerias in Mexico typically offer them as an optional topping.

As promised in my last post, here's my favorite way to pickle your own Jalapeños. They tend to be pickled with other vegetables like onions, garlic and carrots, which is what I typically do. There are other versions that add other ingredients like previously boiled baby potatoes, green beans, cauliflower and cactus paddles... Wonderful as well! Feel free to play with the ingredients that wink an eye to you.

One of the wonderful things about pickling, is that aside from not being complicated, it brings out certain characteristics of the ingredients you are working with in an unusual way and it also prolongs their life in that stage.

This recipe makes a big batch, because they are likely to go fast, and also because since it takes a bit of time to make them, I like to make a bigger amount. They will last ages in the refrigerator if they don't go as fast as I predict. And next time you eat Pizza, give it a try! If you don't want to make them, there are many brands in most supermarkets that sell them already canned and delicious.

NOTE: I don't typically recommend the use of gloves for cooking, but since this recipe involves cleaning quite a few chiles, you may want to use gloves. If you don't and your hands burn a little, wash them with warm water and soap, or rub them with a spoonful of oil, or soak them in a bit of milk, sour or heavy cream or ice cream. Any of those methods should take care of it, as they help dilute capsaicin the somewhat oily substance which contains the heat in chiles. 

Pickled Jalapeños (with Carrots and Onions too!)
Makes about 15 cups

3 pounds Chiles Jalapeños, rinsed, sliced and seeded
3 pounds carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced
1 pound white pearl onions or large scallions, white and light green parts only
4 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
15 to 20 garlic cloves
1 cup safflower or corn oil
2 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
15 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar

To Prepare
Rinse the Jalapeños, remove the stems, slice in half and scoop out the seeds(Since they are quite a few chiles to clean you may want to use gloves). Place them in a large mixing bowl. Rinse the carrots, remove their tops, peel and diagonally slice into about 1/4" thick. Place in the large mixing bowl along with the Jalapeños. Peel the pearl onions of the outer dry skin and add into same bowl. Sprinkle all these vegetables with the salt, toss around and let them sit for about an hour.

Place the white distilled vinegar in the blender along with the water, peppercorns, cumin seed, whole cloves, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and brown sugar. Puree until smooth.

In a large, deep and thick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking, for about 2 minutes. Carefully add the salted vegetables, reserving their juices, and fry for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring here and there, until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic cloves, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Carefully add the vegetable reserved juices, along with the white distilled vinegar mix and the rice vinegar. Let it all cook for about 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

Place in a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator. I like to use glass jars. For some reason they seem to taste even better. Let the vegetables pickle for at least a day before eating. They will keep for months, if you don't finish them before...  


Querida Pati

Tu Mama me acaba de mandar tu site ... no sabia que ademas de Mama ....tus estudios .... te dedicas a esto ... tan diferente ..!!!!

Creo que el exito culinario todas se lo deben a Susy .. ayer nos invito a su casa y su comida fue espectacular ..

Besos Viviana

Viviana Ades | June 19, 2009 8:07 PM

Pat : you rock ! what amazing recipes,they all bring me back to my childhood and just to think of those memories I want to back in the kitchen, on and on again !

karen | June 20, 2009 5:04 PM

Querida Viviana: Gracias por entrar al site, que gusto. Es verdad, nadie conozco que cocine o que disfrute la comida tanto (junto con mi papá) como mi mamá!!! Besos, muchos, Pati

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Viviana Ades | June 21, 2009 9:09 AM

Dear Karen, I think one of the next posts will be about a super tasty Chicken Tinga I made for a kids workshop yesterday. It flew!!! I changed the way I typically make it, it was easier and tastier... All best, Pati

Pati Jinich replied to comment from karen | June 21, 2009 9:11 AM

Pat: que delicia, voy acorrer a hacerlos, te falto poner que con un plato de frijoles y tortillas no hay nada mas delicioso.
Te felicito tanto, cada vez que veo tus recetas quiero meterme a la cocina y con tu manera de introducir el platillo mas se antoja, te quiero. Sharon.

sharon | June 22, 2009 2:59 PM

Yes, yes, yes! My sister is right!
Sharon, Pickled Jalapeños with beans and tortillas have no match... Shar, I looooove you too....

Pati Jinich replied to comment from sharon | June 22, 2009 4:22 PM

In your recipe for pickled jalapenos you mentioned adding the garlic cloves twice.I was wondering if I was just supposed to blend them,saute them,or both.Please email me back.

Rodney | August 1, 2009 12:10 AM

Rodney, hi! For this recipe, saute the garlic cloves, and what goes in the blender are the whole cloves but not of garlic, the spice. Thanks for noticing! I corrected the recipe. Do let me know how they turned out! You can always leave comments here or send me an email...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Rodney | August 1, 2009 11:55 AM

Hola Patty,
Necisito tu ayuda... Tenemos en nuestro jardin una mata de pimientos rojos super calientes. Pensaba usar tu receta de "pickled jalapenos" pero queria consultarte primero. Que crees, funcionaria con otros pimientos?

Maria Lasa-Sloan | August 19, 2009 8:54 AM

Hola María,
Sabes cómo se llaman los chiles que tienes y mas o menos de que tamaño son?? Puedes mandarme un email..

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Maria Lasa-Sloan | August 19, 2009 10:43 AM

Are hard boiled eggs ever pickled with Jalapeno Peppers? Do you have a recipe? Thanks

Paul Corsa | September 11, 2009 8:08 PM

Paul, that is one thing I have not heard of so far! As far as pickling goes (escabeche) the most well known ingredients used for this are chiles, mostly Jalapenos and Serranos, with all sorts of vegetables, which you can just add to the recipe posted here: cauliflower, potatoes, nopales, green beans, even corn! Getting away from the vegetables, there are also "manitas de cerdo en escabeche", or pigs feet, which are quite popular served on tostadas. There are also dishes of chicken or some kinds of seafood in escabeche...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Paul Corsa | September 11, 2009 11:19 PM

This recipe is amazing - thank you so much for sharing it! To other people considering this recipe - wear gloves, as the recipe suggests!

Julia Urman | October 3, 2009 11:39 AM

Dear Julia, So happy you liked those chiles! There is nothing I like more than when recipes are tried out and liked... It is my pleasure to share... I will keep on posting more.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Julia Urman | October 3, 2009 1:42 PM

Delicioso! Feel like making a lot of it

Manuel (Café Fenix) | October 22, 2009 12:16 PM

Hola Patti, my mouth is already watering just reading the recipes. last night i cut up the vegies and now i'm ready to begin. is it possible to process them while hot so that they'll be preserved long enough for me to safely give them as regalos de navidad? You know, with sterile jars that create a vacuum and won't produce botulism?

graciela schrafft | October 29, 2009 10:04 AM

Yes! Absolutely. You can also let them cool, cover tightly, making sure that liquid covers the vegetables, and refrigerate. They will keep in the refrigerator for ages. It sounds like a wonderful, useful Christmas present with such a nice kick!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from graciela schrafft | October 29, 2009 2:17 PM

Gosh - you are right, these are the best. It's like eating candy.
Thank you for sharing with everyone.

Laura | November 18, 2009 10:54 AM


Can I use this recipe to make "nopales en escabeche"? I am fairly new to your blog and I love it. My mom is from Mexico but unfortunately she does not cook alot of the traditional foods so I try to learn from others. Do you know how hard it is to find a website that is more authentic than not? It is very hard to find them in English. I can read Spanish but I sometimes struggle with not always being familiar with the ingredients or measurements.

Martha Hendricks | February 19, 2010 2:21 PM

Hi Martha,
So glad you like the webiste! Yes you can make this same recipe to make the pickled cactus paddles or nopales, you just have to cook the nopales first. So clean them (get rid of the thorns), rinse them, cut in slices or big dice, and then either boil or steam them for about 15 minutes, rinse and then to the saute and pickle part. Some people instead of boiling or steaming them, grill them. Its your choice. You want to get rid of the viscous liquid that they let out as they cook. They will be delicious anyway. Let me know if you need a bit more direction...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Martha Hendricks | February 19, 2010 5:35 PM

Hi Pati,
Just wanted to share that I recently made these pickles (they came out great -- just like at the taqueria!) and a day or so later I had some leftover pizza in the fridge, so I ate it with the pickles like you suggested and it was amazing!! Thanks for the tip!

Sara D. | June 30, 2010 2:31 PM

will these peños be shelf stable? Or are they fridge only?

Joshua L | July 7, 2010 3:16 PM

Hi Joshua,
I always go with fridge!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Joshua L | July 7, 2010 5:13 PM

Ok, Great! I am looking for a shelf stable recipe as i don't have a ton of room for storage in my fridge and I do have a ton of Jalapenos this year. I am going to try this recipe tonight though because it looks amazing!!!


Joshua L | July 8, 2010 8:34 PM

Just made a batch from this year's peppers. My mouth is already watering thinking about eating them on pizza! We couldn't get enough of them last year! Thank you!

Jen P | October 7, 2010 10:24 PM

Wow, Pati! I love, love, love this recipe for pickled jalapenos. YUM! I am pretty sure everyone in my family will be getting a jar of these for Christmas. Cant wait to try the picked onions!

Perla S | October 13, 2010 4:40 AM

Oh! They do make for perfect holiday gifts!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Perla S | October 13, 2010 2:52 PM

I live in Italy and can't find cumin seeds, can I use ground cumin or is there another alternative

Drew | January 15, 2011 3:30 AM

Hi Drew,
Yes! You can use ground cumin instead, they will be just as good.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Drew | January 15, 2011 10:35 AM

Is this the way the pickled jalapenos and carrots are made in the Mexican restaurants in San Diego? It's been 10+ years since I've been in California and I miss this treat so much.

Jay | June 14, 2011 12:32 AM

Hi Jay,
I'm not sure how the pickled jalapenos are made in those restaurants, this is the recipe I was taught by my family, growing up. I hope you try it out the recipe and let me know if they are similar!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Jay | June 17, 2011 12:10 PM

You have a lot helpful ideas! Perhaps I should think of trying to do this myself.

Claretha Halmick | July 26, 2011 1:08 PM

Claretha I'm completely confident that you can tackle any dish you'd like! Please always remember I'm here to answer any questions or concerns you might have :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Claretha Halmick | July 27, 2011 2:34 PM

good story about the hot sauce, i get my wife to carry my bottle of shiracha for me. grew up on Tabasco. thanks for the recipe. and yes i think i can talk my wife into carrying a bottle of pickled peppers for me too.

J. Hahn | March 28, 2012 1:52 AM

Hi I'm going to try this recipe tomorrow but I'm wanting to store them for longer times than just in fridge..I'm wondering if you think I can pressure cook our water bath thesefor storage? We enjoy picked jalapeños on everything! My husband likes la costeña jalapeños best shop I'm thinking this recipes fits the bill...can you email me please!

Sra. Villa | August 20, 2012 9:55 AM

Yes Sra Villa: you can do same process as formal canning for them to last longer for sure. I like home-made the best :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Sra. Villa | August 28, 2012 8:59 PM

I can't wait to try this recipe. I have some beautiful Habaneros and super chilis growing in my yard and was thinking of adding some of them to this recipe. What do you think?

Bill H. | September 1, 2012 11:25 AM

Go ahead, but it will be a GAZILLION times more spicy!!! And I wouldn't do it all with only habaneros... but you may be braver than me...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Bill H. | September 3, 2012 9:09 PM

Hola Pati!

I recently watched your show about your father's ham and cheese tortas and got so inspired I decided to make your pickled jalapenos. I used the last of my husband's garden jalapenos and shallots. I haven't tasted it yet since it is still cooling, but I am very excited and can't wait make a delicious torta like yours with ham, cheese, avocado, tomato, refried beans, crema and pickled jalapenos!

Muchissimas gracias!


PS--are you familiar with cowhorn peppers? They are VERY spicy and my husband had a bumper crop of them. I dried some of them but still have a ton left. xxx

Sara Coles | October 17, 2012 1:29 PM

Thanks for the recipe! I've been trying a few different pickling recipes to compare. This looks delicious! Do you know if this is safe to can?


Tanya | October 20, 2012 3:19 PM