Think of green peppercorns as the young, plump version of the familiar, aged and wrinkled black peppercorns no well-stocked spice rack is without. Green peppercorns have a pungency redolent of their dried counterparts, but require brining to maintain their piquant bite that always comes with a burst of juiciness. A standard salt-and-acid pickling brine keeps green peppercorns fresh for about one month in the refrigerator, as long as you brine them within 24 hours of harvest.
Things You'll Need
Glass canning jar with lid
Food acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice
Rinse the peppercorn stalks under cool running water. Keep the berries as intact as possible, and use a gentle, low-pressure flow of water from the faucet. Drain the peppercorn stalks on a plate lined with paper towels, and let them air dry.
Add antimicrobial spices to the glass jar you'll use to brine the peppercorns. Antimicrobial spices, such as bay leaves, garlic cloves and cardamom seeds, inhibit food-borne bacteria and mold growth. You need about 1 tablespoon of spices for every 1-quart jar.
Pack the peppercorn stalks vertically in the glass jar. Pack the stalks as closely together as possible without compressing them.
Mix together equal parts water and acid in a saucepan, along with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt for every cup of water. Green peppercorns typically work well with lemon juice as the acid, but you can also use 5 percent vinegar. Mix just enough brine to fill the jar or jars you'll use to brine the peppercorns.
Bring the brine to a boil and pour it over the peppercorns, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space. Place the lid on the jar but don't tighten it; let the brine cool until it's warm to the touch.
Tighten the lids on the jars, and let the peppercorns reach room temperature. Then place the jars in the refrigerator.
Store the brined peppercorns in the refrigerator for 24 hours before eating them. Keep the brined peppercorns up to one month in the refrigerator.
If the peppercorns develop any off flavors or smell of alcohol, discard them.