Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MOFO - Day 10 - Habanero-Cascabel Pickled Nopales

Two for the price of one special! This day of MoFo is brought to you by the chiles Habanero and Cascabel. Habaneros are often incorrectly thought of as the hottest of chiles. Actually the hottest pepper honor goes to the Naga Jolokia (ghost pepper). This pepper I'm sure would turn many people into ghosts, so it will not be part of my experiments. Make no mistake habanero at 100,000-350,00 on the Scoville Scale should command your respect in handling and eating them. The small but mighty pepper hails from the Yucatan Peninsula and are a common ingredient in many Yucatan dishes. They are around 1-2 inches and heart shaped. They are usually sold when they are orange in color and ripe. It might not be a bad idea to don your gloves when working with them.

Next I'd like to introduce you to the Cascabel pepper. This cute, round, reddish-brown pepper is sold dried. It is also known as the rattle pepper because if you shake it, it sounds like a cute little rattle. It is fairly mild rating between 1250-5000 on the Scoville Scale. Last year I had the honor of hanging out with Tami from Vegan Appetite, Liz from Cooking the Vegan Books and Kelly from Seitan Beats Your Meat in Chicago. I wanted to bring them some Southwestern goodies, but I also didn't wanted to bring some things that would travel well. Dried chiles filled the bill. I had not yet tried this variety yet, so I figured I should come up with a recipe for them to use. I don't know if they still have them, but if they do, here is a tasty way to use them.

I was taking a stroll at my local Mexican grocer to procure some chiles for MoFo and ran across the Cascabel again. I was also perusing the produce aisle in search of some exotic southwestern vegetable that might inspire me. My eyes and hands were drawn to this unsuspecting bag of cleaned and diced fresh Nopales (edible cactus). It doesn't get much more Southwetern than cactus. I had seen them in jars filled with preservatives and never felt very compelled to ingest them that way. When I got home, the inspiration hit me. I would pickle my own without chemicals or coloring. Plus this way, I could use the flavors I love. It makes me feel close to my roots to can anything. I come from a long line of gardeners and canners. I was beginning to think I didn't have it in me, but I think I may be waking up the beast.

Habanero - Cascabel - Pickled Nopales

1 lb diced cleaned nopales
1/2 onion cut into 8ths
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 large sprigs cilantro
1 habenero cut into  equal pieces
4 cascabel chili, sliced open (make sure to put pod and seeds in jar)

2 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons pickling salt

In large bowl mix nopales,  onion chunks and carrots. In each of 4 pint jars place 1 clove garlic, 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds (approx 10 seeds), 1 sprigs, 2 pieces habenero. Evenly distribute nopales mixture in each jar.

In medium saucepan heat water, vinegars and pickling salt until boiling and salt is disolved. Pour liquid over vegetables in pint jars until 1/2 inch from top. Seal jars and refrigerate for at least two days. They should keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Eat them straight out of the jar or serve as a garnish for tortas, tacos, tostadas etc. Try chopping them smaller for a reallly great relish for Mexi-dogs.

As a little side note Tami = American Vegan Kitchen
If you haven't checked out their books yet make sure to click on the links!


  1. i'd wish i had this recipe about three weeks ago when i canned about 10 pounds of habeneros. i *love* canning hot peppers.

    now, what to do with all those ghost chilis...

  2. I've never actually seen the famed ghost chile. It strikes fear in my belly. I'm looking forward to more canning and pickling in the future.