These unusual, thumbnail-sized Peruvian sweet peppers are absolutely delightful when pickled. Perfect in salads, on sub sandwiches, on pizzas or charcuterie boards, Pickled Sweety Drops are easy-to-make refrigerator pickles that will last all winter long.
First off, special PSA: people of Cincinnati, if it’s still September ’19 when you’re reading this, set aside some time on a Saturday morning so that you can pop out to the Anderson Farmers’ Market to pick up these completely unique peppers. Look for Cassandra Farms, and tell him the blonde, Biquinho (bee-keen-yo) pepper lady sent you. 😉
You might even run into me there, because I have to stock up this weekend. (Don’t worry, I won’t take them all!)
What are Sweety Drops?
These unique specimens are tear-drop-shaped peppers with a pointy end, and taste like extra flavorful sweet bell peppers. A native Peruvian cultivar, they’re also known as Biquinho peppers, Inca Reds, and chupetinho (literally, “little beak”). You eat the whole pepper, seeds and all.
I first learned about these Sweety Drop Peppers at an olive bar in a local (but sadly now defunct) grocery store. They were unnamed in the display, and I spent almost two years being completely obsessed with finding them, trying to figure out the right thing to search for on Google, with no success. (Who knew there were so many small peppers in the world!)
Finally, the food gods showed mercy on me, and I stumbled on a jar at Whole Foods one day. At last — I had a name! Except for Cassandra Farms, I’ve been unsuccessful at finding a retail source for the fresh peppers, but you can buy a jar of them already lightly pickled from Amazon.
But this year, I’m enjoying the bounty from Cassandra Farms, and pickling most of them for the winter. Of all the wonderful produce I’ve sample this summer, I’m most excited about these peppers.
If you love pickled things, I dare say you’ll thoroughly enjoy these little nuggets. They’re crunchy, sweet, with just the tiniest bit of heat, and small enough to toss in your mouth like popcorn. Sometimes, I just eat them straight out of the jar, lol.
And like most refrigerator pickles, there’s no rigamorale of water-bath canning. Heat the brine and pour them over the seasonings and peppers. Seal, cool, refrigerate. Done.
Quick preservation tip: Even though this recipe is for refrigeration, the heat from the brine will likely cause canning jars to self-seal. That doesn’t mean they’re shelf-stable, but, it should lengthen its lifespan in the fridge, unopened.
I use 1-cup Ball jars (which hold quite a bit, as you can see from the photos), which leaves more peppers sealed in other 1-cup jars, and hopefully lasting longer, instead of storing a whole batch in a quart jar, which gets opened immediately and exposed to environmental contaminants.
Toss them into salads, top a pizza, add them to sub sandwiches. And definitely don’t forget those holiday cheese boards! Anywhere a cucumber pickle works, these pickled Sweety Drops will, too.
Pickled Sweety Drops
For the brine:
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar - might need more - be sure to taste the peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling salt
For the seasoning:
- 6 green peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling or kosher salt (coarse, in both cases)
- 6 green cilantro seeds (optional - you'd likely have to grown them)
- 2 cups Biquinho peppers , stems removed, well-cleaned*
- Even though this is a recipe for refrigerated pickled peppers (not shelf-stable), you can increase the peppers' longevity by sterilizing the jars in which they'll be stored. Boil the jars, lids and rings prior to use.
- In a small pot, bring the brine ingredients to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved.
- Add the cleaned peppers to the jar(s). You fill as loosely or tightly as you want, since you're not producing a shelf-stable product.
- Carefully pour the bring over the peppers, to cover. Wipe the rims and seal the jars to fingertip tightness. Check the lids again in 5 minutes -- they may need additional tightening.
- Let the jars cool on the counter. If the jars were filled to the top, they'll likely self-seal. This is a good thing, but note that they're still not shelf-stable.
- Place the cooled jars in the fridge for at least 10 days before serving, although you'll get a nice hint of the good things to come by day 5.