Sep 242009

There are two standards of quality for me when it comes to a good Mexican restaurant.
First, refried beans. Beans must be offered and they must be refried. Not black beans, not some low-cholesterol offering, but real refried beans, preferably cooked in lard and topped with queso fresco must be served. You got bad beans? I won’t be returning.
Second, escabeche. If I go to a taco stand or Mexican restaurant and they have a little bowl of escabeche on the table or included with their salsa selection I’m a happy girl. I know I’m in.
I’d rather frequent a sketchy Mexican restaurant with good beans and escabeche than a beautiful one that markets their black bean wraps with avocado puree and fishbowls of margaritas, thank you very much.
Which leads me to this recipe! Escabeche, or jalapenos en Escabeche are basically a Mexican pickled jalapeno. Far better than those little Nacho rings you buy in the store, escabeche is flavored with onions and garlic, frequently carrots, sometimes radishes or cauliflower, and is a pickled treat that I love to snack on.
This year I grew jalapenos in my garden, and found that I had too many to merely eat (especially since I cook for a toddler, and am nursing an infant. Not too much overtly spicy stuff happening around here) so went looking for a solution. I found several pickled jalapeno and jalapeno ring recipes online, but as I don’t have access to a canner this year (and only had enough jalapenos to make a small batch) I didn’t want to go through the trouble of canning them. As I enjoyed lacto-fermenting salsas last summer, I thought I’d try my hand with the same technique for escabeche, and I am in love!!
I love snacking on the carrots that have been soaking in the spicy brine, while my husband prefers the peppers. I made this batch with a mix of majority jalapenos with a few sweeter peppers thrown in that were in my fridge. Make sure that you use fresh, firm peppers when you make this. Enjoy on the side of a Mexican dinner, or straight from the jar.

Lacto-Fermented Escabeche

makes about 4 pints
  • 4 cups of sliced hot and sweet peppers (for me, this was about two large sweet red peppers – the long skinny kind, not bell, 12 jalapenos and one banana pepper)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into 1/4″ ovals
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a medium sized onion, sliced into half rounds and separated
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh whey
  • water

Special Equipment: Plastic Gloves, Clean jars and clean jar lids

First, put on your gloves. Seriously, put them on. I bought a box of 50 gloves at the pharmacy in my local grocery store for about $5.00. If you don’t want your hands burning for the next three days and/or have to do things with your fingers that you don’t want jalapeno juice soaked into them (such as changing your contacts, being a baby’s chew toy, etc.) put on some gloves.

There, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Second, with your gloves on, slice up your peppers and place them in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except for water and mix with your hands. Allow to set for a few minutes.

Into your clean jars (still wearing your gloves!!) start bottling your vegetables. Push down gently, but firmly on the vegetables to push in a little bit more until they just reach the lower lip of the jar, about 1/2″ from the top. Continue until you have all of your vegetables in jars (don’t worry if the last jar isn’t quite full), making sure you have a fairly even mix of peppers, carrots and the peppercorns are evenly distributed. Press down on the vegetables in all the jars once more.

Now, to each jar, add a little water (filtered is best, but I just used the stuff out of the tap) to fill the space in between the peppers and to just cover them. Make sure that the veggies are submerged. Cap and keep on your counter for about two days before transferring to cold storage. Allow the flavors to mingle for about a week before tasting. The flavor will be of a traditional cooked jalapeno en escabeche, but much fresher and crisper.

Enjoy within a year!

This post is written in conjunction with Fight Back Friday! and Summer Fest 2010!

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  8 Responses to “Jalapenos en Escabeche – a Lacto-Fermented Treat!”

  1. Original comments from former blog:

    aurelia.donka said…

    Yummy! Husband is getting a little tired of cortido, this will be a nice change of pace.

    Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen said…

    This is AWESOME! I’ve got a huge bunch of jalapenos that I was hoping to ferment and this looks like a fantastic recipe for them.

    Lenetta @ Nettacow said…

    Interesting! I wonder what my hubs would think of these instead of his regular pickled jalapenos – since he isn’t crazy about vinegar. They only sit in the “stuff” for a few minutes? That whey must really be something!

    motherhen68 said…

    This is great! Now I’ll have something to do with the 5,000 jalapenos my plants will give me next summer.

  2. Hi All;
    These sounded like something I would like to make, but was wondering about where to get some whey, nothing came to mind right off.

    • Hi Arthur!

      You can get whey just from straining a bit of yogurt through cheesecloth. The word “whey” in the ingredients list in the recipe will link to a post I wrote about obtaining whey. Hope this helps!


  3. Hi;
    Another question, will there be any noticable activities in the jars the first few days? I made a batch and I don’t see anything happening in the jars, so this had me wondering if anything was going on..
    Arthur Page

    • Hi Arthur!

      Sometimes you’ll see small bubbles at the top and, if you have a strong seal on it, when you open it you might hear a bit of a hissing, carbonated sound but other than that, nope! And, even if you see neither of these and the vegetables look and smell fine, you’re probably doing great!

      Good luck!


  4. This looks fabulous! I made it 2 days ago- left it on the counter- and went to put it in the fridge this morning and thought I’d taste it! whoops! did I ruin everything? It was like opening a pop bottle that had dropped on the floor. Lots of fizz….will it be okay or should I toss it?

    • Should be fine! Most lacto-fermented items might have a bit of fizz when you open them – unless you see mold or they smell rotten (which should be obvious) they will be safe to eat!


  5. […] For us?  We always have a steady supply of sauerkraut in the fridge, and occasional forays into lacto-fermented jalapenos, salsa, pickles, dilly beans and […]

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