If Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppadews …

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppadews and publicly taunted us with tongue-twisters, he might have been sued. The word peppadew is a trademark name. Created not by some Big-Ag American conglomerate laying claim to seeds saved by small farmers. No. It was trademarked after a South African fell upon a deviant bush in a garden somewhere in the Eastern Cape in the 1990s, recognized its commercial potential, and set up a growing and pickling operation that, according to my research, remains a secret to this day.

Gobstopper-sized, fire-engine-red Chinese lanterns decorate many of our beds during the summer.

As such, the peppadew is a recent introduction to the culinary world, and information about this gobstopper-sized, fire-engine-red, Chinese lantern is hard to uncover. As I read here, “there is a mystery that surrounds the peppadew plant due to the complete lack of availability of its plants or seeds on the open market. It turns out that the distribution of peppadew plant material is strictly controlled and the growers of the peppadew ‘fruit’ are made to sign a contract which, if they are found to be distributing seeds outside the company, could face prosecution from the licence-holding company. So jealously controlled are the movements of this plant that the production fields are actually guarded!” Wow.

Luckily for us, my mother sent the peppadew seeds from Zimbabwe, untroubled by “the intense control and security over what is, at best, a naturally occurring hybrid.” I’m unsure how she found them — I daren’t ask in case the aforesaid company tries to sue her, or me — but there are reports of an active and growing underground movement of incensed, yet passionate gardeners propagating and flogging the seeds as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick to whoever created the trademark. Good for them, is all I can say.

Peppadews picked from our garden to preserve last month.

Peppadews aren’t the sort of hot that reduces you to tears, like the tiny red and green chillis you find in different Asian cuisines. But if you choose to bite into one, seeds and all, you’ll break out into a sweat, or at least I did. Peppadews, at least in this household, are preserved without their seeds, accenting the sweet mild heat for which they are known. They are a terrific accompaniment to cheese, pasta and salads, and are delicious stuffed with cream cheese. Peppadews are a cinch to grow and a cinch to preserve.

Prepped peppadews brining overnight.

Pickled Pepperdews – adapted from Food.com

Yield: about 3 x pint jars

Ingredients:

Step One

  • 60 grams coarse salt
  • 600 mls water
  • 500-750 grams ripe peppadews


Step Two

  • 375 mls white wine vinegar
  • 300 grams granulated sugar
  • 250 mls water
  • 3 pieces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into about 10cm pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
  • 3 fresh bay leaves

 

Boiling the peppadews in pickling vinegar for just a minute before cooling and transferring to sterilized jars.

Method:

  1. Prep Step One the day before: In a large pot, dissolve the salt in the water. Cut off the stem of the peppadews, and carefully scrape out all the seeds. Rinse and then add to the salted water (brine), making sure they are all covered. Put the lid on the pot and leave overnight at room temperature.
  2. The next day, start by preparing the preserving jars. Heat the oven to 100C degrees. After washing and rinsing the jars, place them on a baking tray in the oven for about 20 minutes. Turn off the stove, but leave the jars in the heat until ready to use. At the same time, soak the jar lids in a bowl filled with boiling water, and then dry well before use.
  3. Under running cold water, rinse the brine off the peppadews and leave in a colander to drain. Set aside.
  4. Bring the remaining ingredients in Step Two to a boil in a large pot, stirring regularly to make sure the sugar dissolves. Add the peppadews and boil for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Fill each jar with the peppadews, followed by the pickling vinegar, making sure they are all covered, while leaving some space between the rim of the jar. Wipe the rims, and secure the lids on each bottle. Allow to cool to room temperature, and then store in a dark place, or once opened, in the refrigerator.

 

Preserved Peppadews.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.

8 Comments

  • Wow, that looks delish! Would you be able to do red and yellow peppers in the same way, perhaps just cutting them to a manageable size?

    Reply
    • Hi Kathy … I am sure you could, although I have never tried to preserve bell peppers this way. Instead, I blacken the peppers on the fire, skin and preserve them in olive oil with a couple of fresh garlic cloves. Thank you for your interest! All the best, Annabel

      Reply
  • Hi Annabel, I will definitely try your recipe. I was given 3 cups of pepperdews today and want to pickle them. What proportions would I use. By the way I was born in Kitwe Zambia. What is Zambia like now. Kind regards Avril

    Reply
    • Hello Avril … we love living in Zambia, although Livingstone is very different to Kitwe. 🙂 My suggestion is to just follow the recipe in this blogpost. Three cups of pepperdews work out to be about the same as the grams stated in the recipe. Best of luck! Annabel

      Reply
  • Thank you Annabel for the recipe. Believe the seeds are being sold as Baby Peppers. I grew some and they do look the same. Going to try your recipe tonight. Keep safe in these trying times

    P.S. Would love some of your seeds

    Reply
    • Thank you for your interest, Janet! 🙂 Pepperdews have a slight heat, unlike sweet peppers, and are a key ingredient in my food. They grow easily, last a long time, and are delicious pickled. Where do you live? All the best, Annabel

      Reply
  • Hi Annabel. Thank you so much for the reply. I stay on a beautiful plot outside Benoni in Gauteng. If ever you are this end of the world you are so welcome 🥰

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! I am not sure when I will next be in Gauteng, but I really do appreciate your kind offer. I am pretty certain pepperdew seeds will be available in your neck of the woods. Good luck! 🙂

      Reply

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