Every West Indian home will have a jar, jars or bottles of Pepper pickle or Hot Sauce or suh’m on their dining tables. For sprinkling over food to make a hot meal experience soar into the sweating and reverse-hissing-to-get-your-tongue cool realm.
I know Jamaican, Trini, Bajan, Guyanese, Nevisian folk who always have a jar on hand. Some even carry it with them to restaurants… true! I went to a West Indian café in Warrandyte, Melbourne and about 5 minutes into my meal, the owner brought out some homemade hot sauce and apologised profusely for not having given it to me earlier.
Before you ask, no, I don’t have any in my home but I do have a supply of Scotchie in my freezer. Frozen because when I spy it, which is not often, I buy nuff and freeze.
Scotch Bonnet with its beautiful aroma is my preferred pepper. I was brought up on it. It was readily available in Lagos. Some call it Habanero or Ata Rodo.
See it yah! Picture below shows Roma Tomatoes and Scocth Bonnet Peppers.
To make Pepper Pickle or Pickle Pepper,
You gwine need
Sterilised glass jars with lids that will not be eroded by vinegar
Sterilised glass jars
Scotch Bonnet Peppers – the hero of the dish! Red is hottest but yellow and green will add colour variety.
Sweet peppers (capsicum, bell peppers)
Pimento, dried berries
You may bwoil up the pimento an bay leaf into the vinegar and let stand.
Slice the onions into rings, not too thin that they fall apart.
Cut the carrots into circle slices and cho-cho into bite-sized chunks. Much better if you cut them into shapes as it has a nice appearance in the glass jar. My mother used to be able to make a face using an onion slice, pimento for eyes, sweet pepper mouth and carrot nose. How she used to get them to stay on the side of the jar, I’ll never know. I tried and tried and tried and failed. Albeit one session, one evening, but mehn! She would sit with gloves on her hands and painstakingly cut and assemble. A slice of carrot would become a face with its eyes and mouth cut out. You can do what you like with the vegetables.
Thinly slice the bell peppers.
Assemble in the jar keeping the cho-cho and carrot shapes against the walls of the jar. Use the onions to keep them in place. Chuck in the other ingredients, a bay leaf and a few pimentos, top up with the vinegar. Ensure there are no air bubbles, screw the lid on tight and Bob’s your uncle.
This is my offering, the one and only time I made it. Apologies for the lack of clarity with the picture. I promise to do better the next time I make them. There is a distinct lack of creativity with the vegetables and a shocking case of just chopping and chucking in. My Mum would ask me to delete this picture. I will say that I chose and sterilised a decent bottle-Tick. I was very pleased not to burn my fingers when cutting the peppers. Huge win!
Warning:- Each piece of veg in the glass jar is beyond lethal. If I was having a meal and wanted a bit more warmth, I would take out a piece of carrot and chop it into little pieces and mix into my food OR just half a teaspoon of the vinegar sprinkled over my meal.
Be sure to have a cool glass of non-fizzy liquid nearby.
I leave you with this…
Hospitality isn’t reserved for a select few who remember to vacuum, it’s for all of us.