Picked and pickled at peak ripeness, Howard Lev’s peppers offer a natural sweetness that balances their fiery kick better than any pepper we’ve tasted. And it all started when Lev was a boy.

Every summer, his mother, Lil, planted a crop of Hungarian Goathorn peppers at their Youngstown, Ohio, home. Come harvest, she’d pickle and marinate them in a vibrant mix of oils and aromatic spices based on a recipe given to her by a Serbian friend. They were the family’s ubiquitous condiment, a jar of the sweet-and-spicy mix always at the center of the table.

Mama Lil's Mildly Spicy Peppers In Oil

When Lev moved to Seattle for college, his frustration with being unable to find anything comparable eventually prompted him to launch Mama Lil’s, which jars and sells his mother’s recipe. Mama Lil’s Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers, Kick Butt Spicy Peppers and Mildly Spicy Peppers add vibrancy to any dish, but they’re especially great on pizza and eggs. And—trust us—fold them into chocolate cake!

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Photos: Courtesy of Howard Lev and Brianna Coleman