What’s a Peppadew?
If you haven’t encountered Peppadew peppers yet, it’s because they are a relatively new product. Discovered in 1993 in the Limpopo province of South Africa, Peppadews are now exclusively cultivated there, pickled in a sweet vinegar brine, and sold as a trademarked product of Peppadew International. The company describes them on the label as “piquanté peppers.” It’s not clear which cultivar of pepper plant they come from, but they seem to be closely-related to a hot cherry pepper, or at least their taste and texture is similar.
What sets Peppadew peppers apart is their refreshing (thus the “dew” part of the name) crisp texture, relatively mild heat, and sweet picking treatment that perfectly balances their spiciness. They are best eaten only briefly cooked (such as on a pizza), or eaten raw as part of an appetizer (stuffed with cheddar cheese), a salad, or made into this zingy Peppadew Relish.
Being the DIYer and occasional gardener, while I was researching the Peppadew for this post, I though, “can I grow Peppadew plants and pickle these little peppers myself?” As it turns out, the answer is noooooo! – unless you are willing to engage in international plant piracy and the illegal importation of an agricultural product. (I am not.)
As I discovered, the Peppadew variety is actually rights-protected by The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). As such, the plants or seeds are not sold by Peppadew International, although some people do acquire them through nefarious means. I’ve heard that birds carry the peppers away from the fenced and guarded fields where they grow these peppers in South Africa, and people collect the seeds. It’s still probably illegal if someone plants those seeds, but I’m sure the birds who drop the peppers a few miles away aren’t lawyering up anytime soon. Life… finds a way! That said, besides being illegal, it is a bad idea to sneak non-native species, animals or plants, into places they do not belong!
Where can I find Peppadews?
So, how do you legally acquire some Peppadew peppers? They’re often sold in bulk near the olives and other bulk relishes. You might also find them in jars (mild or hot – go for mild), or you can buy them online. They are most often red, but I’ve started seeing a bright yellow-orange variety show up called Goldew. What’s lovely about both varieties are their texture and flavor. Choose firm, non-mushy peppers to ensure that they are as crisp and juicy as possible.
I originally developed this recipe to top some lamb burgers, along with a parmesan crisp. While the burgers were tasty, as it turned out, this relish really needs to sit after it’s prepared so the flavors have a chance to meld together. So make it a day ahead if you can, and stash it in the fridge. Then use it to top sandwiches, deviled eggs, cheese and crackers, or blend into cream cheese for an excellent veggie dip. (I’m excited to post the specific recipe for this dip soon! You might want to follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss it.)
Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish
- 1 small shallot halved
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp parsley leaves packed
- 8 oz red Peppadew peppers drained
- 8 oz golden Peppadew peppers drained
- 2 tsp capers drained
- 1/2 tsp agave nectar
- 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
In a food processor, add shallot, garlic, and parsley. Pulse until finely minced, occasionally scraping large unchopped bits from the sides.
Add remaining ingredients. Pulse until chopped evenly, scraping sides a needed. You're looking for a consistency similar to sweet pickle relish. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving.