Monday, August 29, 2011

Pickled peppers

I’ve never pickled anything before.  I’ve been the recipient of many people’s pickling charities and some of them have been really good.  It’s like listening to music – I really like music but I’m not a musician. 

The six pepper plants I grew this year were all peaking in their pepper production.  It was time to pick peppers and pickle them.  I bought the equipment, vinegar, salt and the Ball Co. recipe book and also downloaded some recipes.   I wrote out some instructions the day before.  On Saturday I picked the peppers.  I got about 3 ½ pounds of peppers, half hot and half sweet.  The hot peppers are Red Hot Cherry and Hungarian Wax.  The sweet peppers are Marconi, Cubanelle and Pimento.
The peppers were cut, deseeded and sliced up.  The hot cherry peppers were the most work – I cut them like a pumpkin, removed the cap and scooped out the seeds with the end of a potato peeler.  After cutting the hot peppers I noticed that my nasal passages were free and clear, with a slight burning sensation, and that’s with mildly hot peppers.  Once cut the peppers were put in a dilute salt solution for the day.  I don’t know what this does except salt the pepper for flavor, but that’s what the recipe calls for.
At the end of the day I canned them.  The jars were taken from the dishwasher and filled, and the hot pickling solution ladled in and the lids put on.  I never scraped the sides to remove air bubbles (forgot), but did set the filled jar on the countertop with some authority.  The peppers filled six jars and there was just enough pickling solution to fill them with a little left over.   After boiling, the jars were set on a towel and in a few minutes each one emitted a small pop as the lid sealed.  It works!  I found it’s similar to setting up a reaction when I was a bench chemist.  I’d like to open a jar now but I know it’s better to wait a few weeks for the flavors to mingle. 
Now I’m thinking hot pickled okra, hot pickled carrots, dilly beans, the sky’s the limit.  It's a great new pickling world out there. 
I haven’t been tracking the fish harvest religiously.  On Saturday I caught a catfish and ate it for dinner with green beans and red potatoes.  Pan-fried fish reminds me of the lakes in northern Indiana and frying up a mess of fish, usually bluegill, perch and bass.  I’ve been averaging one fish a week from the pond this summer and there’s still plenty of fish left.  Here’s some picks when I was feeding the catfish a few days ago. 

  And this:
Today I removed more beans.  This year I planted bush beans as fillers in spots that open up in the beds.  I’ve found that a 3x4 patch with two rows of beans can produce a lot of beans.  I try to stagger plantings two to three weeks apart to maintain production.  This patch had Provider beans, which have been a really good bean, productive and tasty.  The bean beetles recently moved into the patch and were ruining most of the beans.  With damaged beans and few new flowers it was time to remove the plants before they became an incubator for beetles.  I cut them off at the base so the roots can continue to inoculate the soil with nitrogen fixing bacteria and put the plants in the compost bin.
The last remaining plants in the brassica bed are cauliflower, a Burpee’s variety called Summer Harvest.  They were doing great until the heat wave.  Nearly a month of continuous highs in the 90’s stopped their growth and burned the new leaves.  Somehow the plants survived.  When the weather cooled a few weeks ago they started growing again.  This plant produced an odd head with the leaves interspersed with the florets.  The cauliflower is a bit strong raw but it may be OK when cooked.  It’s amazing that a plant that was seeded the end of April and set into the beds in late May actually produced something.

Results for the week:   Eggplant 15 oz;  Tomato 4 lb, 11 oz;  Hot pepper 1 lb, 15 oz;  Sweet pepper 1 lb, 13 oz;  Snap bean 2 lb, 7 oz;  Cauliflower 12 oz;  Butternut squash 1 lb, 11 oz.  See Results tab for spreadsheet of yields for the year.   


Allison at Novice Life said...

Great harvest! I could be wrong, but I think the salt has something to do with the 'preservation' part, maybe!? Let us know how they taste when you open them :)

Lynda said...

I managed to get up to my cabin and I caught two trout! You and your catfish have been an inspiration! I think your peppers look fantastic! I will be roasting and canning mine pickling...need them for chili rellenos...and pimentos. I'm also smoking and drying some paprika type peppers...should be fun.

kitsapFG said...

The pickled peppers are sure pretty! You need to resist opening them for afew weeks as the flavor does not settle until they set for a while. I know how hard that is to wait though after doing all that work initially. You are going to be pickling up a storm I think now that you have gotten the ball rolling.

That cauliflower sure is growing in a strange manner!

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