Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pickled Peppers

The dog days of summer really are the time for your peppers to shine. I had planted 3 different kinds of peppers this spring that had been started from seed indoors. I love germinating my own seeds but that is another discussion for another post . . .
Anyway, the season was rife with cut worms, mold, disagreeable weather, and chewing bugs but as soon as late summer swelter settled in my peppers took off. I planted a variety of sweet pepper called "Super Shepherd". Traditionally, appalachian farmers have had trouble growing sweet peppers because of nematodes and this strain was supposed to be resistant. It is an italian strain that produces big long sweet peppers. Alas, the mold, the nematodes, or something ravaged mine. I did manage to come away with a total of 3 sweet peppers that I saved seed from. These I figure will be "Super Super Shepherds"! The hot peppers however positively exploded. I had tons of Jalapenos and Chinese Five Color Peppers. They just kept coming in by the basket full!
I decided to can them because my efforts to dry things in the past have not worked. I can remember my grandmother drying things in cardboard flats (she loved to do apple slices this way) as the wasps and flies tried in vain to make it through the cheese cloth barrier. I think she did this in the dead summer heat and by the time I got things in the fall rains were being disagreeable. Maybe an electric dryer (*gasp!*) will be in the stars for me next year. At any rate, this year is the year of the pressure canner. Yep, in the photo above is mom's pressure canner that she has given me. Circa 1975, it takes a lick'n and keeps on tick'n. The gauge is off by a pound so it only starts to rock at 16 psi but as long as we take that into account we're golden. I really do have fond memories helping mom can with my sister and listening to the weight rock and hiss on the steam vent like a giant agitated dragon. The double pot right next to it is my stock pot which is perking along making me some chicken stock. Well, I'm already tethered to the stove, right?

I pickled the peppers in a horseradish and garlic brine. I kept these Jalapenos whole with the intention of trying poppers at some point in the future. The leaves out of the window were beautiful in the sunlight and I tried to photograph them behind the peppers but the sun glared in too much so those images were lost. It did create this beautiful ghostly glow around them and they look like some preserved potion in professor Snape's office. Magical peppers!

The Chinese Five Color Peppers were really pretty jumbled together. I cut these in rings fresh and packed them in the glass and then poured brine over them. I tried to process them as minimally as possible because usually bright colors do not make it past the pressure cooking stage. The bright green of the Jalapenos certainly did not make it past the pressure cooking stage. I was surprised at the color of the Chinese ones when they came out. They look like a bottle full of dragon scales and I'm sure have all the kick of dragon scales too.

Everything got snugged into the dark cabinet I keep my tomatoes stored in to await their turn in winter recipes. Cooking in the winter time with foods preserved from ones garden really is a treat. When the seal pops on the glass jar and those veggies turn out it's got all the taste of a summer ray of sunshine.