Sweet, tangy, spicy, salty, sour — pickles are bite-sized powerhouses of flavor. Since this recipe calls for a quick pickling process (no need to sanitize the jar) the rings of banana peppers stay nice and crunchy. But beware that banana peppers, like many other chile varieties, run the gamut from mild to hot. Its a good idea to taste one before you start cooking and adjust the amount of sugar in your brine accordingly.
Place the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until everything is dissolved. Add half of the peppers to a clean mason jar, followed by three garlic cloves and a few strips of lemon zest, repeat with the remaining peppers, garlic, and lemon.
Remove the brine from the heat when it starts to boil and let it cool slightly before pouring the mixture into the jar; making sure to leave at least a ½-inch of space at the top. Carefully slide the bay leaves into the jar and screw the top on tightly. Refrigerate immediately.