Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers . . . .






Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers . . .everyone knows that old Nursery Rhythm.
This rhythm definitely relates to me and my gardening abilities.  Every January and February I very excitedly thumb through the seed catalogs that arrive in the mail.  I map out a plan of how I want to arrange my tomatoes, bell peppers and hot, peas, beans, grape tomatoes, and herbs. Then when the time comes I start some plants from seed and others I purchase when they arrive at my favorite garden supply store.

When April comes round then it is time to plant and to dream.  Dream of the tomatoes I will can; the beans I will freeze; the herbs I will dry, and the list goes on.  But, in reality this is what really happens - I get enough beans for 2 or 3 meals; a few tomatoes and then I have to protect them from the squirrels; my herbs, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes thrive.  And the one thing, the one thing that will grow and grow and grow are my jalapeno peppers.  I must have all the right conditions for this One plant.

This plant(s), the jalapeno, starts out slow with just a few peppers.  Then the yield increases to where I start drying them; and then there are more, so I start giving them away.  I can't dry, eat, or give them away fast enough (and I cannot throw them out; then I would have guilt and another story).  Well, this growing season I have come up with a new plan; pickled jalapenos and hot pepper jelly.  Surprisingly these canned items are quite good and their shelf-life is considerably longer (if you keep them refrigerated after opening) than the freshly picked variety; and put a cute tag on the jar you have yourself a nice little gift. 
Now, with all that said I have included photos of the pickled jalapeno process, the two recipes, and the hot pepper jelly photos will follow.  I hope you enjoy the recipes and if you love gardening - don't get discouraged and keep on growing.

Pickled Jalapenos
1 lb jalapeno chili peppers
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 medium white or yellow onions, thickly sliced
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 head garlic, separate cloves
4 cups apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Kosher salt or sea salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 sprigs of fresh marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried
4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1Tbsp sugar

Method:
1. Wash the chiles, leaving the stems intact.  Cut a cross in the tip end of each chile so that the vinegar will be able to penetrate the chile.
2. heat oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add the chiles, onions, carrots, and garlic.  Fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning them over occasionally.
3. Add the vinegar, salt, herbs, and sugar nad bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  make sure the chiles are entriely cooked through before canning.
4. Pack 4 pint-sized sterilized jars with the chiles and vegetables.  Top with the vinegar and seal.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. 

Once opened, they can be kept in the refrigerator for one to two months.


Hot Pepper Jelly
1 red pepper , cut into wedges
2/3 cups jalapeno peppers, chopped (seeds removed)
1-1/2 cup white vinegar
6 cups sugar, divided
2 3-oz. pkgs. liquid pectin
6 to 8 1/2-pint canning jars and lids (sterilized)

Method:
Place peppers and vinegar in a blender; cover and puree.  Add 2 cups sugar; blend well.
Pour into a large saucepan.  Stir in remaining sugar;  bring to a boil.  Lightly strain mixture, discarding liquid, and return to pan.  Stir in pectin.  Return to a rolling boil over high heat.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat; skim off foam.  Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 -inch head-space.  Wipe rims; secure with lids and rings.  Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Set jars on a towel to cool;  check for seals.  Makes 6 to 8 jars.