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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hot stuff!

Yesterday I had a very sad thought.  Summer is almost over.  Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE fall.  It's one of my favorite seasons.  But I have had so much fun playing in my garden this summer that I'm sad to see it go.  This year, however, I have been on a quest.  I have been rotating and timing my crops so that I can achieve my very feasible goal of having fresh, homegrown veggies from about May until November.  As summer is winding down I am looking forward to cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, peas, arugula, raddichio, daikon radishes, turnips, and beets.  But, sadly, pepper and tomato season is coming to an end, so it's time to harvest harvest harvest!

My biggest experiment of the season has been my plethora of hot peppers.  I thought since I planted so many varieties, some were bound to not work.  Imagine my surprise when ALL OF THEM WORKED!  I've had to get really creative with my canning and find and "invent" recipes to utilize my plentiful harvests.  Because, really, who just snacks on hot peppers?  I mean, I guess people DO, I'm just not one of them.

One of the prettiest sights in the world.  This is when you
start feeling accomplished as a gardener!
One of the hot peppers I planted was a hot cherry pepper.  These are really good for pickling.  Once I got a decent amount off my plant (And, yes, I only had one plant.  This guy PRODUCED!), I was then faced with the choice of canning them whole or making relish.  I opted for relish, since I thought that would get used way more in our house.  This could be used on anything: hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches....the possibilities are endless!  And since cherry peppers, while hot, are also very sweet, I thought it was a good choice.  The recipe is very simple, but sometimes the most delicious recipes are.  Brace's about to get hot in here!

Hot Cherry Pepper Relish 
About 3 cups of diced cherry peppers (about 20 peppers, depending on size)
-Note: I threw in a couple ripe jalapenos because I had them on hand and they needed to be used. Remember - it's all about using your harvests!
1/2 Medium white onion
1 Clove garlic
2 c white vinegar
1 c water
1 T kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
2 t powdered pectin

Special tools:
Vinyl food service gloves (remember : hot peppers!)
Canning equipment
4 oz glass jelly jars

Fill a canning pot with enough water so that it will cover jars.  Turn on high and add jars and lids and bring to a boil.  I leave jars in boiling water until ready to fill.
Looks like a party in a bowl!

Now put on your gloves and core the peppers and dice into small bits (seeds and ribs, too! This is HOT relish!).  I did this by hand.  Set

Here's a friendly side note:
If, for some reason, you either don't have gloves or are too stubborn to put them on, wash your hands with Dawn dish soap after handling the peppers.  Here's why - The thing that makes your hands burn, and in turn your eyes, nose, mouth, or any other mucous membrane you may accidentally touch while handling them is the capsaicin (the thing that makes the peppers hot).  Capsaicin is an OIL. And remember the Dawn dish soap commercials with the baby duckies and the oil spills and the amazing people using their product to remove the oil from the birds? the math.  I've done it and it takes the oils off your hands, leaving you burn free. 

See?  Onion paste.
 Now, back to business. Rough chop the onion and peel garlic.  Put in food processor and make a kind of paste out of it.  I wanted the onion and garlic flavor in the relish without biting into an actual onion.  The big reason for this for me was because my hubby loves the onion flavor but hates crunching into a raw onion.  So I take the approach like I'm dealing with a kid - hide it and he won't complain.  (Love you, honey!)

Add vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a small pot. Bring these to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar and salt completely.

Once these are boiling, add onion and garlic mixture and peppers.  Let the mixture get back up to boiling, and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Add pectin and allow to boil for another minute or two.  Back the heat down so that the relish is simmering.
Before cooking
After cooking.  See the difference?

Remove jars and lids from water.  Carefully fill jars with hot relish (you want to add hot relish to hot jars or you risk cracking the jars) and leave about a half inch of headspace.  Wipe the rim of the jars with a damp paper towel to remove anything you may have spilled or splattered on the rim.  You want to have a tight seal, and having clean jars is the way to ensure this.  Place lids on the jars and then rings until finger tight.  Place jars in the hot water bath, making sure there is at least an inch or two of water covering the jars.  Cover and boil for 10 minutes.

Remove from water and transfer to flat surface and let cool on top of a dish towel.  After the jars are COMPLETELY cooled, Unscrew rings and test for sealing.  You'll want to push down on the lid and make sure it doesn't "pop" when you do. I also will pick up the can (carefully!) by the lid to ensure it doesn't come off.  I store mine with the rings on, although some have said that it is not necessary.  If you do, just put them on finger tight (Don't screw them down super hard because that could cause the seal to break).

And there you have it. I got eight 4 oz jars from this recipe. Easy easy easy!  And so yummy!  The cherry peppers are sweet and hot and have a great flavor. I can't wait to try this on a sandwich!
Cue feeling of accomplishment!

1 comment:

  1. Looks yummy! I second your advice about Dawn... yesterday I opted to put Dawn in our empty handsoap pump for that very reason (well.. capsaicin and general cheapness...). I picture the oil covered ducks every time I wash my hands with it... hehe