canning pickles

Hot Pickled Peppers

Before I get to the peppers, I want to start with pickles. If you remember, I made some pickles this summer. I tried two different types of recipes. The first one was a cooked brine recipe. The second was a simpler pickling recipe (not cooked). The first batch I made (in the above link) was FANTASTIC except for one thing…the flavor was fabulous, the crunch was PERFECT. Michael said they were the best. The problem? They were too salty! Like nearly inedible too salty (at least for me, Michael said they weren’t that bad). I was so disappointed that my pickles didn’t work out. I was glad I was able to nail the crunch and the flavor, but what about the salt? How do I fix that? I followed the recipe…

So I decided to give it another go with a packet of dill pickle mix that I bought. I want to at least get one batch of pickles correct before I experiment with other flavors and methods.

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It was super easy. Boil the vinegar, water and pickle mix, then ladle it into the jars and then can the jars. The canning took 10 minutes (much quicker than other canning recipes–like tomatoes for example). The mixture smelled really good. I added some sliced jalapenos into a few of the jars to see if they turn out spicy dill pickles. πŸ˜€

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On a side note, a friend gave us some sweet pickles that were pickled with sliced jalapenos and OH MY GOD. It’s like spicy candy! So good! I need to get her recipe for that because that’s my next experiment.

The Verdict

I think I’m done with pickles. I’ve tried three different recipes and so far, no go. This one was okay– the flavors were perfect and they weren’t too salty like the first two attempts. The problem? They weren’t crunchy! I like crunchy pickles and I’m annoyed they didn’t work. But if you don’t mind non-crunchy pickles, the flavor is really great.

The Peppers

We’ve had a zillion, bazillion jalapeno peppers this summer. And we didn’t plant as many plants as we did last year when we got a zillion bazillion peppers! We still had pickled jalapenos from last summer’s batch when this year’s started to ripen. Oy vey.

I finally convinced Michael to give away some of last year’s batch and we made some room in our garage fridge for this year’s batch. Michael worked tirelessly to slice and pickle the jalapenos. We still had tons. We gave his mom three huge ziplock bags of peppers so she could pickle her own (they are from Texas, they put hot stuff one everything!).

Well it turned out one of the pepper plants I got was a random cayenne pepper plant. No idea how that happened. The pretty little shriveled red peppers grew in like crazy and I had no idea what to do with them. I started drying a batch of them and then decided I should try my hand at make some hot sauce, too.

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I poked around to find some different recipes. I was looking for easy recipes and ones that I could either pickle or can to keep longer. I found a few different options and decided to give this one a try.

PART ONE

Here is theΒ recipe I used:

This website had a few different variations on making the hot sauce, too, so if you’re interested check out the link and read through the alternatives. Since it was my first attempt I went with the original, simple version. Chopped up some garlic, de-stemmed the peppers, a little salt and the bottled water and that’s it.

Basically I pickled the peppers for a few weeks and then when I found the time, I got down to making the sauce!

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PART TWO

A few weeks later…After sitting in the dark pantry for a bit. Put it in my bullet and blended! I ended up just doing one jar. The 2nd jar looked a little…funky. There was a white film growing in it and maybe that was normal? But it looked iffy to me so I tossed it. I blended everything up in the Bullet until smooth. If you want it less watery, don’t use all the water from the jar (I did).

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The Verdict

Holy fire! SPICY as hell! Great flavor, great smell, really garlicky. But it is HOT. A little bit of this will go a long ways.Β Per the website I used for the recipe, it will keep in the fridge for 6 months.

Pickles!

I’ve tried pickling everything I can get my hands on…yet no pickles?!

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What’s up with that?! So yeah, I finally tried making my very own pickles! I bought a pickling cucumber plant and waited patiently for something to grow. And then I blinked and the plant had overtaken the entire planter bed. LOL Apparently it’s like zucchini…you only need one plant because it will be prolific. I saw some teeny tiny cucumbers growing and figured it would be about 2 weeks and then they’d be the right size. Well, the heat wave sped that up. They were slightly larger than I had planned on using for my first batch of pickles, but oh well.

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I got some fresh dish at a local produce stand and then tried my hand at making pickles! Here is the recipe I used:

I added more red pepper flakes than the recipe called for because I love spice. The recipe was super easy. The one thing I had an issue with was that the liquid wasn’t enough for 4 quart jars. I’m not sure why–maybe I let the liquid mixture boil down too much? I have no idea. But I ended up having to make a second 1/2 batch of the liquid to finish up the pickles.

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I also added some “pickle crisp granules” to each jar because I like crunchy pickles. The finished product:

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It will be about a week or two and then I can open these babies up and test them out. I’m really excited about them! If this recipe isn’t perfect, I have two other recipes that I want to try and those both are recipes for canning (as opposed to just refrigerator pickles). I will keep you updated on how they turn out.

4th of July

It was a pretty low-key holiday this year. Usually our street goes all out with tons of giant fireworks and a BBQ and everyone does a potluck/drinking fest on our street. It’s always a good time. Sadly, a bunch of neighbors went out of town this year instead so it wasn’t the big affair it usually is.

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We had our friends Mike and Susanna over for a BBQ and their oldest son brought some fireworks (and I got some of those Pop Its). Michael grilled up some ribs for dinner and we did corn on the cob and Baked Beans. I also tried a new (to me) beer! A Grapefruit Shandy. I only bought 2 bottles because I didn’t want to buy a 6 pack just in case I didn’t like it…and of course I loved it, so I wish I’d bought the whole thing. It was very refreshing and light for a very hot summer night.

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After dinner we went outside and did the fireworks. Their youngest, Rowan, is 2.5 years old and just learning to talk and it’s so adorable! He repeats everything you say and he has a slight lisp when he says the word “yes.” “Do you want to throw some Pop Its?” Answer: “Yesh!” Haha. He’s a little rockstar too. He wasn’t scared at all by the fireworks and seemed fascinated by the whole thing.

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The teenage neighbor kids were setting off the “real” fireworks once it got dark and we watched those for a bit. Then I went back to the house to be with the animals. They were all freaked out. πŸ™ Rowan found Maya (the super scared and skittish cat that hides most of the time) and Maya let him pet her! (Which is hilarious because she doesn’t let ME pet her…) Rowan said “I pet the nice kitty” and he did a very good job being gentle with the kitty. It was cute.

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Unfortunately the animals were really freaked out. When it was bedtime Bella jumped up on the bed and slept between us because she was so scared. πŸ™

The next day I went to a birthday party for my friend Debby. It was her 50th! She had the party at K Marie in Milwaukie. It’s a really cool idea for a party. Food and drink and arts and crafts! This time we decorated hat boxes. Since Debby went to Italy, Vienna and Paris to celebrate her 50th birthday our hat boxes were European themed!

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It was so much and everyone’s hat box looked a little bit different even though we all used the same stuff. There was artichoke dip with bread and crackers, a refreshing fruit and mint salad and of course cupcakes!

It was a busy busy busy weekend but so good! And I was so happy to see so many friends!