Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What To Do With a Texas Hill Country Surplus?

Thanks to my in laws for a wonderful weekend of river-play, and a bushel of fresh peaches and peppers from their gardens. I have plenty of hot peppers for our consumption growing in my own gardens, but as you can tell by reading most of my recipes - i like a little fire in every bite! I happily accepted Pops' pepper surplus and plan on storing about half and experimenting with the rest.

Storing peppers is quite easy and can be done in a variety of ways:
  • Blend up into a hot sauce that will keep over a year (vinegar based)
  • Pickle
  • Dry (cayennes and other thin walled peppers are best for this, but jalapenos can be dried/smoked and stored in adobo sauce for chipotle peppers)
  • Freeze
Freezing is my most frequently used method of storing hot peppers. You don't need to blanch them or even cut them up as they cut easily and cleanly while still frozen. I just cut their tops off and pop them into a sealed freezer bag. I only recently finished last year's habanero harvest - so convenient to have them on hand, ready to dice and pop into any recipe. They won't thaw as a nice crisp, firm pepper suitable for a stuffed popper, but frozen peppers are perfectly wonderful for cooking with.  I usually go out and pick peppers only when they're destined for supper - but my serranos are popping and ripening like crazy, so many have headed to the freezer or into hot sauces (olive oil emulsions). The jalapenos are outdoing themselves as well - i think black bean-cheese stuffed/ turkey bacon wrapped poppers are in our near future!

I really enjoyed the sour pickles i fermented a few weeks ago, and enjoy pickled jalapenos on nachos and salads - so, why not try my hand at those? The bag of peppers i was given is a mixed lot - mostly serranos and jalapenos, with some other peppers that look to me to be anaheim type peppers. I'll save the serranos for hot sauce and salsa, and pick out the larger peppers to be pickled. I saved some of the unused brine from the cucumber pickles, so i can make a smaller batch of these pepper pickles. ( so many Ps! )

Simply chop the jalapenos, toss in a mason jar along with some garlic cloves and a little onion bulb or two, cover with the brine and hold down with another jar and lid to keep the peppers covered in liquid. Set at room temperature for 5-7 days depending on the temp of the house (covered with cloth to keep the flies out) and wait for the peppers to change color and taste the way you want them. Store covered in some brine in a smaller jar in the fridge. Should keep for a good long time.
I separated into two jars as i wanted to leave plenty of head space for any fermenting bubble action.

Note: Leave MORE HEADSPACE THAN THIS - in only a few hours both jars began to overflow with the brine. Fill the jars about half way up with brine, and maybe place jars on something absorbent.

And what about those peaches, you ask? I may make a crisp, and will definitely make some peach salsa to accompany some locally caught trout a good friend gifted us - recipes later in the week. Or perhaps we'll just slice them and enjoy them fresh and raw along with our evening glasses of wine (and maybe some vanilla ice cream?????).

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