Food Topic: Sweet & Spicy Peppers
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 We spent a whole day working with different kinds of peppers out of our gardens, everything from assorted sweet peppers to the very hot Thai Dragon.  We made several different kinds of condiments and a stuffed pepper entree to freeze for future use.  We had a lot of fun trying the different peppers, so that as the day progressed, our tolerance for hot and spicy tolerance increased, as did the heat of our dishes.

Here are a few ideas as to what to do with them and a couple of great recipes, including my Aunt Judyís authentic Texas salsa recipe.  Enjoy.

We started the day making red tomato salsa:

Aunt Judyís Authentic Southwest Salsa

Yield:  approx. 10 pts

 4 qts peeled and crushed tomatoes
1 c chopped fresh jalapenos- or peppers of choice
2 c chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1 T minced fresh garlic
2- 12 oz cans tomato paste
ľ c minced fresh cilantro (opt)

Mix ingredients together.  Taste for saltiness and heat.  (This requires at least 1/2 a bag of tortilla chips) Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Fill pint jars and process 40 minutes in a water bath or 10 minutes @ 5# pressure in a pressure canner.

We also made a yellow tomato salsa- a lighter tasting salsa, since you donít use tomato paste, but a nice, refreshing difference.  You have the yellow tomatoes, red onion, green from the cilantro and peppers of choice (even red peppers would look gorgeous in it) and a bit of garlic.  This is a bit more watery than the red tomato salsa, because there is no tomato paste added.  We used a yellow plum tomato.  A very interesting tomato.  I want to work more with them next year. 

I chose to stuff poblano peppers.  When I eat at a Mexican restaurant, I like to order the stuffed pepper, and it is a poblano pepper that is served, so I wanted to do something like it myself, but without deep frying it. Poblano peppers are somewhat smaller than a bell pepper and have a zippier flavor. The main question I had was as to whether I should roast and peel first.  I couldnít find anything out about it at all, so I ended up roasting the peppers lightly in the oven to soften, but didnít peel them.  I think next time I will cut them in Ĺ first, take out the seeds and then roast them lightly before stuffing because they were challenging to core and seed because they were soft.  Leaving the peel on helped keep the integrity of the shape together as I stuffed it.  One batch I stuffed w/a wild rice blend, onion, cilantro, and cheeses and the other batch I stuffed with ground pork, brown rice, onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin and coriander and of course, cheese.  Then I froze them on a tray and then bagged them up. 

Stuffing peppers is an example of how I have my own line of fast foods- have time today, put up too much, donít have time tomorrow- viola, and dinner is already made.  The most important factor in creating your own line of fast foods is owning a deep freezer- whether it is an upright or a chest style doesnít matter.  It may be an expense up front, but the savings of being able to put up ďleftoversĒ for another meal and having the flexibility of purchasing in quantity when the sales are good at the grocery.   

Since we had such a large variety of peppers, we decided to make a Mixed Pepper Relish:  Chopped the assorted peppers together until fine with onion, vinegar, some sugar and salt and pepper.  Lightly cooked together and what a great taste.  Serve on top of sausages, pork chops, chip dip- and this would work, because there were both hot and mild peppers together, so it wasnít too hot.  I think we used Hungarian wax, Sweet Banana, Salsa Peppers, Red Bell Peppers, too. 

We didnít put the jalapenos in the Mixed Pepper Relish because I made Jalapeno jelly- I like a bit of a kick in my food,  so this is an unusual  sweet and spicy condiment that is great with chips, sausages, pork, chicken, anything with cheese- like a casadillas etc.  it was really easy to make and I highly recommend trying a batch yourself. 

Jalapeno Jelly

Yield: 6- Ĺ pts 

1 c ground jalapenos
1 Ĺ c
cider vinegar

6 c sugar

1 pkg powdered pectin

Bring to a boil the jalapenos, vinegar and 3 c sugar.  Stir the powdered pectin into the remaining 3 cups of sugar.  Slowly add pectin mixture into boiling vinegar.  Stir constantly and boil 1 minute. 

Pour into jars and process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. 

 

We put up sliced pickled jalapenos and peperoncinis  (greek pickled peppers- that I pay more than $4 a jar for to top my sandwiches and salads- cost me pennys to make!) 

I am harvesting a Thai dragon pepper (moí hotta) and drying.  When I have dried enough, my husband will make hot oil for Asian stir fries.  You simply simmer the dried, whole peppers in peanut oil.  Be careful if you try this, the oil is very hot.  We use just a tiny bit at a time when we cook.  

Now, after a morning working with peppers, we sat down to a lunch of stuffed peppers and fresh yellow tomato salsa and chips served with jalapeno jelly pepper relish.  Thatís just too good!  Itís more than that.  We were very satisfied with our work and have batches of healthier food stuffs tucked away for another day.  No preservatives, no harmful pesticides sprayed on the veggies, no question of quality or recalls because of poor food handling practices.

 I have come to a point in my canning and freezing practices, that I have out grown the basic canning and processing books and am forging my own path.  I still refer to the books, but I find that I want more unique end product.  Sometimes they donít work out for us even after all of the time spent on preparing large batches of items.  An example is eggplant.  A couple of years ago I breaded and fried up a bunch of slices and froze them for us to make parmesan in the winter.  After a couple of meals of it, we grew tired of the softer texture and the greasier taste than when it is made up fresh.

I try to make a small batch of something the first time to see if we really will enjoy it.  Last years BBQ sauce isnít quite what we want, so when I go to use it, I have to doctor it up.  I need to find a new recipe for this year.  That reminds me, take notes as you go- inventory what you have, what does and doesnít work for you, because, trust me, it is hard to remember year to year what was done.  I label and date jars and freezer boxes, too. 

Next year I think I will make a few changes in the peppers I grow.  I donít really use the sweet banana peppers too much, so I think I will grow more

 

  • cayenne- to make my own cayenne pepper- dry and grind, sift out the seeds

  • red peppers- to make my own roasted red peppers, since they are so expensive to buy, I will make and can

  • poblano-  to dice and can because I make this great baked green chili and Monterey jack cheese dip and  I have decided that even though I like the chopped green chilis in the can, I donít like the additives in them.  

To receive more detailed recipes for those I simply described above, feel free to email me at office@889JOYFM  and I will send you the recipe(s).

 

 

 

 

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