garden

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. 😀

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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 the recipe I used:

Hot Pickled Peppers Sauce

From: http://remcooks.com/2012/09/30/hot-pickled-pepper-sauce/

Ingredients

  • Ripe cayenne peppers, stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • purified water (not tap water)

Instructions

  1. Sterilize a 1 pint jar and lid.
  2. Add the cayenne peppers and garlic to the pint jar filing it as best you can.
  3. Add salt.
  4. Cover the cayenne peppers with bottled spring water or water filtered through reverse osmosis. Now, some of you are asking why bottled water? Well my friends, tap water contains Chloramine to prevent disease causing bacteria and pathogens. Chloramine (as CI2) is formed when ammonia is added to water containing free chlorine. So if you remove the chlorine, the ammonia stays. This will inhibit the production of lactobacilli bacteria and create other issues when you pickle something. So don’t use tap water. If you must use tap water, add 1 tsp white vinegar to the brine to help “kick start” the fermentation process.
  5. Place lid on top and tighten securely. Place in a cool (68 – 75 F), dark place. Now, here’s the hard part. LEAVE IT ALONE FOR 2 WEEKS!
  6. After 2 weeks have passed, place chiles, garlic and brine in a blender and blend at its highest speed for 1 minute.
  7. Pour into cute jars for later use. Enjoy!
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=47835

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. Per the website I used for the recipe, it will keep in the fridge for 6 months.

A Favorite

What a busy weekend!

Michael’s dad was visiting from Texas and we had my parents come down for a short visit, too. It was nice to have a visit and catch up and they hadn’t seen each other since our wedding last year. Michael, his dad and my dad went golfing Thursday afternoon and then we all went out to dinner at Jake’s Grill. A favorite in Portland, for sure.

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We got a really nice, quiet table in the back underneath a gorgeous antique stained glassed window atrium. I’d never seen it before.

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We shared an order of calamari for the table. It was nice to show my parents one of our favorite restaurants (they had never been there).

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Michael got the steak, my mom got the meatloaf and mashed potatoes and my dad got the beef stroganoff. Michael’s dad got the halibut (his favorite) and I got the Cedar Planked Steelhead with mashed potatoes. I’d been craving mashed potatoes for weeks! This definitely satisfied that craving. The steelhead was so amazing and perfect–the perfect, rich piece of fish, slightly crispy.

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After that lovely, rich dinner my parents split a chocolate cake and Michael and I split the cheesecake with blueberry compote. It’s been so long since I’ve had a fancy dessert–it was so worth the calories!

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What a nice night!

On Friday I had the day off. I went for a swim–first swim in over a week and a half and it felt fantastic being back in the pool (especially with my recent back stuff). The boys were spending the day watching golf (no thanks) and so my mom and worked in the kitchen. Our garden has gone so crazy this summer and our tomatoes were out of control. I was so glad to had my mom’s help with them.

She bought me a tomato press (we’d gone to several stores to find a food mill and this was the closest thing we could find). I am so glad, too! It’s a nifty little device that worked great for the project. In the past it was SO time consuming and exhausting trying sieve the tomato seeds and skins out of the cooked tomatoes and this made the project a million times easier.

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I don’t know how many pounds of tomatoes we picked from the garden but it was an insane amount. The tomato press removed probably 90% of the seeds and all of the skins. Worked great!

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I chopped up a red pepper, green pepper, two onions, a ton of garlic and a shallot. I cooked it all down and then put the sauce in the pot.

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The kitchen smelled fantastic.

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I added some seasonings, salt, sugar and let it simmer for about 2 hours. I added 3 cans of tomato paste to thicken it up and it worked SO much better than last year’s batch of tomato sauce! I got the flavor and texture just right and it was ready. We ended up doing freezer bags instead of canning it (since I don’t have a pressure canner) and it will be a great sauce to have this winter.

After that it was nearing dinner time and Michael made us all ribs. I cooked up corn on the cob and baked beans.

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Michael did the ribs a different way this time. He baked them in the oven at a low temperature for two hours and then cooked them on the grill for 30-45 minutes until they were ready. They turned out great! It was another nice night visiting but I was really tired after all the work I’d done.

I have to share this one other thing. My mom brought down a giant scrapbook from my great grandfather. He used to keep journals and cut out newspaper clippings. There were some amazing newspaper articles in his scrapbook. The Kennedy assassination, the Civil Rights movement…just amazing to see.

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I spent a good hour reading through the book. There is so much to read!