Pickled Green Chilies and Garlic

Pickled Green Chilies and GarlicPickled Green Chilies are a spicy condiment often served with stirred or fried noodles in Malaysia and Singapore. They are a must-have with stirred wonton noodles, Kuala Lumpur style Hokkien fried noodles, and Cantonese Style Fried noodles. I like it even with soupy noodles and usually have a small jar in the refrigerator almost year round.

When properly preserved, Pickled Green Chilies do last a long time. Mine never last that long. They are usually gone within a month or two. Whole pickled bird’s eye chilies last longer as they are not cut and are more sturdy. These spicy chilies are great pickled as they do mellow out in the vinegar.

Sometimes I throw in a few cloves of garlic or shallots to help flavor the vinegar. Garlic and shallots loose some of their pungency when pickled. They are quite tasty after hanging out in the vinegar solution for a few days. I usually consume them within 2 weeks when they still have a little “bite” and crunch left in them.

Pickled Green Chilies and Garlic

There are all kinds of vinegars out there. The ones commonly found here are white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar both at the recommended 5% acidity for pickling. I have always used rice vinegar in cooking and pickling as that is what my Mom and a lot of others use in Malaysia.

A closer check on the rice vinegars found here show that they vary between 4.2% to 4.5% acidity. I have used them with no adverse effects but please do read both these articles on making pickles and food acidity and processing methods by the University of Minnesota for ensuring safe canned foods.

Pickled Green Chilies and Garlic

You have probably noticed that some of my pickled garlic cloves have a blue tinge to them. I recently read that this can happen using white distilled vinegar, type of salt, and immature garlic. According to this Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy Garlic article, garlic contains anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments that can turn blue or purple under acidic conditions. I have never had this experience using rice vinegar and I was eager to test it out.

I had no idea if the garlic I used were immature but I did use white distilled vinegar with 5% acidity and regular store bought sea salt with no iodine. After just several hours in the vinegar, some of the garlic cloves actually started turning blue!

Pickled Green Chilies and Garlic

Further search on the internet lead me to this article on The New York Times by Harold McGee. It appears that under the right conditions, sulfur compounds and enzymes in garlic react with each other to make pyrroles which are clusters of carbon-nitrogen rings. These ring structures absorb particular wavelengths of light, and thus appear colored. Wow…that’s a whole lot of scientific information! The bottom line is that these pigments are perfectly safe to eat. Phew…there you have it! Make some blue or green garlic today to impress or freak out your friends. 😉

Pickled Green Chilies and Garlic
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 8 oz (225g) Serrano chilies, washed and pat dry with paper towels
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 4 oz (115g) bird’s eye chilies, washed and pat dry with paper towels
  • 2 cups (480ml) rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar with 5% acidity
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  1. Slice Serrano chilies at a diagonal about 3/16th (5mm) thick. Place in a colander and give it a good shake to remove as much of the seeds as possible. Peel garlic. Discard blemished cloves. Wash and pat dry with paper towels. Leave bird’s eye chilies whole.
  2. Sterilize 2 jars sufficient to hold all the chilies and garlic. I like to throw in the lids for just 3 to 5 minutes towards the end.
  3. Place sliced Serrano chilies and peeled garlic in one hot jar and bird’s eye chilies in another jar.
  4. Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Place on the stove and bring it to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt.
  5. Pour hot liquid into jars to cover chilies and garlic. Place lids on jars and allow them to cool on the counter. When cooled, transfer to the refrigerator.
  6. Leave sliced Serrano chilies and garlic to pickle for 3 days and bird’s eye chilies for at least a week before serving.
  7. Consume pickled Serranos and garlic within a month and pickled bird’s eye chilies within 2 months.

Pickled Green Chilies and Garlic

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎


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  1. says

    I think this is the year of the pickled pepper. :) I’ve seen a lot of recipes this year and they are all different in some little or big way. I love the addition of the garlic and just a touch of sugar. Great recipe Biren!

  2. says

    Whenever I eat wanton noodles, this pickled chillies is a must have for me. I eat and eat the green chillies….and they are yum! But unfortunately I dont favour pickled garlic. But like reading your post here on the scientific fact on the “blue stain garlic.”

  3. says

    Pickled chilies are the best when eaten with egg noodles :) Got to remember to make some for future noodles consumption, haha. Thanks for sharing.

  4. alan says

    Looks lovely, I have one question, why does the chillies have to have warm water poured over them before putting in the jar.


  1. […] eye chilies. A little soy sauce is usually poured over the chilies. For wonton noodles though, pickled green chilies are the norm. Whenever I think of wonton noodles, I think of pickled green chilies and vice versa. […]

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