This Tiny Jar of Pickled Serranos is offered up as proof that quick pickling is easy, flexible, and willing to accommodate what you have in the kitchen.
I had a bunch of Serrano chiles in the fridge and didn't think I would be able to use all of them -- a few minutes later they looked like this:
So that was about 10 minutes worth of work, and in exchange you'll get a delicious jar of pickled chiles that you can munch on for the next few weeks -- sound like a good deal?
How To Quick Pickle Anything
Even if the contents of the jar change, the technique remains the same, so once you've added quick pickling to your repertoire you can use it on just about anything, and I have! Here are some examples:
I've made that Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots recipe dozens of times and it's a good reference if you ever want to make a bigger batch.
These Pickled Serranos use similar ingredients as the Pickled Jalapenos recipe, but everything is whittled down to fit one of these small Mason jars.
These are 8 oz. jars and I usually keep a few around for salad dressings and the like -- you'll need about 7-8 Serrano chiles to fill the jar.
For reference, the more common pint-sized Mason jars are 16 oz.
Keep in mind that Serranos are hotter than Jalapenos so if you're new to them start with small bites! I typically slice them quite thin as you only need a sliver to get that pickled, fiery flavor. Serranos vs. Jalapenos: What's the Difference?
I also used Mexican oregano, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns for this recipe, but don't sweat it too much if you don't have this exact combo on hand.
I usually give the spices a quick crush in the molcajete, but this is optional as well -- you could just as easily use powdered spices and get an equally good result.
You'll also need a couple tablespoons of onion and a roughly chopped garlic clove.
Start by sweating the onion and garlic in some oil over medium heat.
Once the onion is softened we'll add the sliced Serranos, the spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Note that Kosher, sea, or pickling salts are most commonly used for pickling vegetables. Iodized salt isn't recommended as additives can affect the brine.
Give this a quick saute and then add:
1/3 white vinegar
1/3 cup water
Bring to a boil and then grab your tiny jar!
I used a small ladle to fill the jar, but some type of funnel would probably be easier.
You should have enough brine to completely submerge all of the sliced Serranos. If by chance you don't then feel free to top it off with a bit of water.
Let this sit on the counter to cool for a bit.
You can always take a bite now to get a sneak preview of their flavor, but they'll taste best after pickling overnight in the fridge.
The acidic crunch of these Pickled Serranos is a great final touch for a wide range of dishes. You can use them anywhere you would use Pickled Jalapenos, just remember that they're a bit more fiery!
Here are some recipes where I've used them in the past:
And of course they also act as a great final touch on Tacos. And maybe even in some Guacamole if you're feeling crazy.
Okay let me know if you have any questions about these Pickled Serranos, or about quick pickling in general. It's such an easy technique and you get weeks worth of pickled munchers in return. Awesome.
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Tiny Jar of Pickled Serranos
- 7-8 Serrano chiles
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic
- pinch of Mexican oregano (approx. 1/4 teaspoon)
- pinch of cumin seeds (approx. 1/8 teaspoon)
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- olive oil
- Give the serranos a good rinse and cut into thin slices, discarding the stems. Finely chop a couple tablespoons of onion (I used white onion). Peel and roughly chop a single garlic clove.
- Saute the onion and garlic in some oil over medium heat until softened. Add the sliced serranos along with the spices: Mexican oregano, cumin, black pepper, and salt.
- Briefly saute and then add 1/3 cup white vinegar and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
- Add the serranos and brine to an 8 oz. jar. Let cool on the counter for a bit, and then seal and store in the fridge. You can taste them directly after making them, but they won't be fully pickled until the following day.
- Store in the fridge where they keep for about a month. (Note: instructions not meant for long term canning.)
Our latest recipe is a batch of these Chicken Tinga Enchiladas.
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If I want to adjust this recipe to long term canning, can I just add the processing step at the end...? Thanks!
Hey Debra! Most likely yes, but I never feel comfortable giving people a full thumbs up on that as I haven't tried any long term preserving with these recipes yet. Cheers.
Thanks for the recipe!
How long can you store these in the refrigerator?
Hi Lisa, this will keep for at least a few weeks in the fridge. Cheers.
I’ve made this multiple times and they are amazing. The rest of the people in the house aren’t thrilled with the pepper spray mist in the house, but oh well. :). And they are really good for months. I know the recipe says a month but I keep them tightly covered and they are still good months later. Enjoy!!
Hey thanks for mentioning the time frame Glenn, good to know they are keeping that long for you. Cheers.
I just made these (in Port Elizabeth, South Africa). The recipe was so simple and they smell lovely. Thinking about doing a spicy chicken pizza (home-made dough) at the weekend. I also have some Thai chillies left to use, so looking forward to that. Will definitely keep an eye on your page. Thanks, Lucy
Ahh good to know Lucy, I'm so glad this recipe has made its way to your neck of the woods! Yeah these would work great on the Spicy Chicken Pizza, I hope it treats you well. Cheers 🙂
Is it necessary to sauté the mixture? I’ve always done other pickled veggies straight in the brine but wasn’t sure if peppers were different.
Hey Taylor! I like using the saute to get some extra flavor from the onion, garlic, and spices, but I wouldn't consider it crucial to get the serranos to pickle. Cheers.
Made my first batch of these for Thanksgiving and took them to the in-laws. I was offered plenty of leftovers to take home, but for some reason the jar of pickled Serranos had 'vanished'. My brother and brother in-law both like hot stuff, but neither one has confessed yet. Just made a second batch, don't know if I can wait until morning to start. Fair warning for those who think they like hot- if you're used to jalapeno or Tabasco based sauces, these might give you a case of the hiccups as your body reacts to the "heat". It's pretty funny to watch, even funnier when you see them go back for more. Am thinking of trying them with rice wine vinegar, or maybe even English malt vinegar, for a touch of sweetness. Thanks for the easy(and delicious) recipe!
Ha I get those hiccups sometimes too, and still grab another 🙂 Thanks much for your feedback Scott, you can always drop a pinch of sugar in there for some sweetness but I usually skip it. Cheers.
I lived in Monterrey Nuevo León, México for Seven years the first time and 3 years the second time. My Twin daughters were born there from my marriage to a Mexican National.
Some of your Recipes are a lot different from what I have seen in the kitchens of my in-laws. Not saying that they're wrong, but the ingredients and steps aren't the same as what I have experienced personally.
I understand that in Mexico the Cuisine is Regional. A lot of the Recipes don't change from Region to Region though.
Great job though, and Thank you for Sharing your Version of Mexican Cuisine.
Thanks Michael! Yeah there are lots of ways to get there and much of it depends on what your palate prefers. I hope you find some keeper recipes on my site! Feel free to ask any questions along the way. Cheers.
My only question is, can you can these in a water-bath canner after filling up the jars like you would traditionally can other peppers ?
Hi Michael! These instructions aren't designed for canning as I don't do any long term preserving myself. But after getting loads of questions about this it seems like you could easily adapt the recipe for canning by following some simple canning guidelines. I usually point people to this canning site for more info. I hope that helps a bit! Cheers.
One should use stainless steel to cook saute the vegetables, not cast iron!
Hi Chris! You're referring to the combo of vinegar and the cast iron pan right? Thanks for mentioning this and I will make a note of it in the recipe. In this recipe the brine comes to a simmer in a matter of seconds so I don't think it interacts with the pan that much, but in general you're right it's probably best not to cook acidic mixtures in cast iron as it can eat away at the seasoning (and pan).
For further reference, here's some good info on cooking with cast iron: