Friday, August 26, 2011

Preserving Floyd: Faux Peppadews

I came across Peppadews on the Mediterranean Bar at the local grocery store when I was living in Horseheads, NY and immediately became addicted.  Peppadews are a sweet, spicy, small red pepper that I've only seen in pickled form.  They were discovered in South Africa as a sport or naturally occurring hybrid.  Somebody realized the potential of these little beauties and patented the seeds and plants, making them unavailable for anyone who is "unauthorized" to grow them.  It's said that the fields where they are grown are heavily guarded, leaving one to wonder just what the big mystery of the Peppadew is.  That story can be read here.  I also had difficulty finding a photograph of a Peppadew plant or raw pepper.  There are lots of photos of the processed peppers.
Since moving back to Floyd I've been able to find Peppadews in very expensive jars so I started a quest to reproduce faux Peppadews.

Last year I grew Zavory peppers, a hybrid pepper the size and shape of a Peppadew but said to have the flavor of a Jalapeno without the heat.  The Zavories were tasty in and of themselves but were totally devoid of heat and tasted nothing like a Jalapeno.  They did pickle nicely but were not what I was looking for.

This year I tried cherry peppers as a substitute.  Cherry peppers are a bit larger and thicker walled than a Peppadew but they are similar in shape, stuffable, and small enough for finger food.  They are mildly hot.
Hot Honeyed Cherry Peppers

2 1/2 pounds cherry peppers
6 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons honey
5 cloves garlic
5 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Core peppers.

In a non-reactive pot, combine the vinegar, water, salt, and honey.  Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and honey.  Add cherry peppers and simmer until peppers just start to soften.

Pack the peppers tightly into the jars but don't crush them, along with the garlic, bay leaves, and spices. Leave a generous 1″ headspace at the top.

Ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.

Gently tap the jars on a padded surface to remove air bubbles and readjust headspace if necessary.  Wipe rims and adjust lids.

Process jars for 10 minutes (adjust time for your altitude).Cool, label and store.

This is my first time out with this recipe and really it should sit for a couple of months before tasting, but I tried a leftover pepper and I think the recipe could use more sweet.  Luckily my cherry pepper plants are being more than prolific and I'm going to double the honey in the recipe on the next go round.  The original Peppadews also had a smokey undertone that these are missing so maybe the addition of a few drops of liquid smoke is called for.


  1. I'm eager to hear - did you come up with a good Peppadew substitute? Those little guys are the tastiest pepper I've ever had!

    1. The cherry peppers were good but they just weren't Peppadews. For one thing, they were just a little too big. I like the size of 'dews for stuffing for party finger food and apps. Secondly, they didn't have the subtle smokey flavor of 'dews. I could have adjusted for that in the recipe but wasn't aware of it when I made them. But as a sweet, hot pickled pepper on their own, they were tasty. Just not a Peppadew.

      So far, Zavory peppers, a hybrid that has the flavor of a Habenero but not the heat, is the leader in the search for faux 'dews. It comes closest in size and shape to a Peppadew. Because it lacks the mild zing of a 'dew you have to add a little heat to the syrupy brine when you preserve it.

      This year I'm trying a variety called Joe's Hot Round Pepper. It's a marble-sized pepper supposedly with some heat. I've never grown it before. Will report back!

  2. Got to love wegmans ;) stuffing some with hot sausage as we speak

  3. I purchased some peppadew seedlings from my local nursery a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps they have lifted the moratorium on the private growing of peppadews :)