Peppers, peppers everywhere

Have an abundance of fresh peppers? Make a batch of colourful cowboy candy and enjoy their sweet and spicy flavour all winter long | www.pickytoplenty.com

Have an abundance of fresh peppers? Make a batch of colourful cowboy candy and enjoy their sweet and spicy flavour all winter long | www.pickytoplenty.com

My pepper plants may not have grown very big, but they produced.

I am pretty sure it was a combination of low water and terrible dirt that caused my pepper plants to be dwarves. Watering regularly while living off a cistern is tough. Every time the weather man promised rain, I held off, hoping mother nature would sprinkle down some hydration on my plants — but she didn’t. In fact, it almost seemed like there was invisible umbrella over my house. The skies would get dark and my hopes would rise. But it always passed. Missing us, missing my gardens.

A mix of sweet and hot peppers come together in a syrupy brine to create Colourful Cowboy Candy | www.pickytoplenty.com

A mix of sweet and hot peppers come together in a syrupy brine to create Colourful Cowboy Candy | www.pickytoplenty.com

Regardless of their short size, my pepper plants produced. I grew pepperoncini, jalapeno, California wonder and sweet chocolate varieties.

Next year, I plan to add more varieties of sweet and hot peppers so that I can make more Colourful Cowboy Candy. While I haven’t actually tried any yet, they smelled delicious while they simmered briefly in a syrupy brine.

If you have an abundance of peppers, you should give this recipe a try.

Colourful cowboy candy | ww.pickytoplenty.com

Colourful cowboy candy | ww.pickytoplenty.com

Colourful Cowboy Candy

(yields five pints)

  • 1 pound of fresh peppers, a mix of sweet and hot
  • 1 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • 4 C sugar
  • 4 Tbsp mustard seed, I used brown and black (it’s what I had in my cupboard)
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Wash and slice all peppers into rings.

Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for five minutes.

Add peppers and simmer five minutes more.

Load sterilized jars with peppers first, stuffing them in, then liquid leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Process 15 minutes in a water bath canner.

Avoid eating them for at least a month to bring out the flavours.

Use up those garden peppers with colourful cowboy candy and enjoy your harvest for months to come | www.pickytoplenty.com

Use up those garden peppers with colourful cowboy candy and enjoy your harvest for months to come | www.pickytoplenty.com

 

 

Pickles take two

Classic Dill Pickles | www.pickytoplenty.com

Classic Dill Pickles

If you read my first blog post on canning, you might remember there being a slight worry that my beautiful dills would end up tasting like metal. Rest assured, we popped open a jar and no metal there, just yummy, tangy dill. In the meantime, I tried my hand at another canning recipe for dill pickles, this time from Ball.

The trouble with pickling recipes is that unless you have tried them in the past, you have no idea if they are replicating until the season is over. Next year I will have a better handle on which recipes to keep and which ones to trash.

Just a short post today as I am about to head to the kitchen to can some crushed tomatoes to have on hand for the upcoming cold seasons. Already, with the help of my awesome friend Shandra, my cold cellar (a work in progress) is stocked with tomato soup concentrate, peach and raspberry jam, ground cherry, watermelon and peach jalapeno jellies, dill pickles (two kinds), pickled pepperoncinis, cowboy candy, carrot cake jam, roasted garlic tomato sauce, roasted jalapeno salsa and spicy dilly beans. I will be sharing those recipes soon and more. Still ahead are the crushed tomatoes, fire and ice pepper jelly (using ice wine), tequilla pepper jelly (a recipe from Shandra’s family), apple pepper jelly, apple butter, more ground cherry preserves including a jam and pie filling… and plenty more. We are running out of canning days but I plan to make the most of them.

Summer harvest is coming to an end and I am anxious to get into my gardens and plant for fall and winter. A gardening post will be up soon,

IMG_3012

Classic Dill Pickles | www.pickytoplenty.com

Classic Dill Pickles

Makes 6 Pints

  • 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers
  • 3 C sugar
  • 2 Tbsp pickling salt
  • 6 C pickling vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp pickling spice
  • Dill
  • Garlic, crushed

Combine sugar, salt and vinegar in a non-reactive pot (stainless steel). Add spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Prepare jars by washing in soapy water and then sterilizing in the water bath canner.

Remove jars from canner and put dill and garlic in bottoms. Stuff with cucumbers. Add a little more garlic and dill before filling jars with hot liquid.

Leave 1/2 inch head space and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Wait a few months before popping those lids and digging in for a deeper flavour to develop.

 

Ground Cherry Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Sweet meets heat in this homegrown ground cherry jalapeno pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Sweet meets heat in this homegrown ground cherry jalapeno pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Remember those ground cherries I told you about? If my last post didn’t convince you to add these to your garden next year then this post will. I have a bumper crop this year and I am picking about a bowl full of the little lanterns off the ground daily.

While these little treasures store well in their husks, they are also great for canning — my new addiction.

Ground cherry jalapeno pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Ground cherry jalapeno pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Since making peach pepper jelly the other day I have been dying to make one with ground cherries. The only trouble was finding a recipe.

In my research on canning I have learned two key rules: Use a non-reactive pot (stainless steel); and stick to the recipe.

Garden fresh jalapeno peppers and ground cherries come together in this sweet pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Garden fresh jalapeno peppers and ground cherries come together in this sweet pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Faced with no recipe for a ground cherry pepper jelly, I chose to improvise. The ground cherry is a member of the tomatillo family and I managed to find a canning recipe for a tomatillo pepper jelly on a canning forum. I adapted the recipe and the result is a sweet jelly with a hint of heat (I will add more peppers for the next batch).

If you too are overwhelmed by ground cherries, try preserving them in this pepper jelly. It makes a great appetizer over a warm brie or cool cream cheese or a great gift.

Ground Pepper Jalapeno Pepper Jelly|www.pickytoplenty.com

Ground Cherry Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

  • 1 Jalapeno (next time I plan to increase this to two, or toss in another kind of hot pepper)
  • 2 C ground cherries, husk removed
  • 1 medium green pepper
  • 2 1/2 C red wine vinegar
  • 10 C sugar
  • 1 pouch Certo

Combine ground cherries, peppers and vinegar in food processor until pureed. Put puree and sugar in pot and bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and skim foam from top of jelly. Add pectin.

Return to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir five minutes.

Pour jelly into sterilized jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Process jars in a water bath for 10 minutes. Listen for that glorious ‘pop’.

Use up those garden-fresh ground cherries in this jalapeno pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Use up those garden-fresh ground cherries in this jalapeno pepper jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Pepper jelly can be used as an appetizer poured over brie, wrapped in puff pastry and baked or over cream cheese as a dip or as a sandwich spread or glaze for meats. This recipe yielded 12, 125 ml jars of pepper jelly.

Ground cherry jalapeno pepper jelly — great over a warm brie or cool cream  cheese | www.pickyotplenty.com

Ground cherry jalapeno pepper jelly — great over a warm brie or cool cream cheese | www.pickyotplenty.com

Addicted to canning

 

Peach Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Peach Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

There is no greater sound when canning than the popping of a lid. This signals a successful jar of preserves that can last up to a year, or in some cases longer. Ever since I popped my canning cherry a few weeks ago, I have been addicted.

This weekend, with the help of my amazing friend Shandra, we canned six different things: spicy dilly beans, dill pickles, pickled pepperoncini peppers, roasted jalapeno salsa, ground cherry pepper jelly and the recipe I am going to share with you tonight (don’t worry, I will share the rest too) peach jalapeno pepper jelly.

Sweet peach and spicy jalapeno come together in this delicious canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Sweet peach and spicy jalapeno come together in this delicious canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

With peaches still in season, I thought what better way to break into the world of making jelly than with a peach pepper variety.

I love pepper jelly. Over a warm, gooey wheel of creamy brie, spread over cream cheese or just on a cracker, pepper jelly is a sweet and spicy bit of heaven.

The peach flavour sweetens up the heat from the garden-fresh jalapeno peppers.

One sad thing about making pepper jelly from scratch is seeing the amount of sugar that goes into it. If anyone has a sugarless or low sugar recipe for pepper jelly, please feel free to share it in the comments below. I plan on whipping up a few different versions of pepper jelly before the season is through.

Sweet juicy peaches meet spicy jalapeno in this yummy canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Sweet juicy peaches meet spicy jalapeno in this yummy canning recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Peach Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Adapted from How to Have It All

  • 6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 6 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 pouches Certo liquid pectin
  • 1 C peaches, finely diced

In a large stainless steel pot (do not use a coated pot for this, see my Popping My Canning Cherry for more information on non-reactive cookware in canning) combine peppers, sugar and vinegar over high heat.

Bring to a rolling boil. Maintain a rolling boil, stirring constantly for five minutes.

Add pectin and peaches. Return to a rolling boil and stir for three minutes.

Remove pot from heat and let cool for a minute. Skim off any foam with a spoon.

Pour into hot jars leaving a half-inch of head space. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Remove from canner and place jars somewhere they can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

Listen for the pop and rejoice in the fact that you just made your own pepper jelly.

We doubled the recipe and ended up with 13 jam-sized jars (250 ml) of this delicious jelly.

After we made the jelly I did read a few posts from other bloggers regarding the doubling of canning recipes. Many warned against while others said the consistency changes when doing larger batches.

Peach Jalapeno Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Peach Jalapeno Pepper Jelly | www.pickytoplenty.com

Popping my canning cherry and a pickle recipe

Pickle success on my first try? Only time will tell. Popping my canning cherry and a pickle recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Pickle success on my first try? Only time will tell. Popping my canning cherry and a pickle recipe | www.pickytoplenty.com

Get it? Popping my canning cherry. Like that sweet popping sound you want to hear when you can. It’s a sweet sound I tell you, especially when there is a symphony of popping lids. It means victory.

Everything is growing like mad around here. While my tomato plants aren’t as tall or as big as I would like them to be, there are plenty of fruits, big and small, ripening on their vines. I have about six little eggplants growing and dozens of peppers, hot and sweet. The ground cherries and gooseberries are impressive, taking over the little berry patch so much that my raspberry and blueberry plants have disappeared. I have plenty of canning recipes I plan to try with my crop as I am expecting a bumper one (PS tried ground cherries for the first time tonight and oh my are they are sweet and tasty). My homemade pickle cucumbers are also faring well, though not producing enough at one time to make pickles so I had to cheat.

I had seven homegrown cucumbers on the counter just dying to be made into pickles. I couldn’t wait.

I had to cheat and buy some extras from the farmers' market. I couldn't wait to try my hand at canning.

I had to cheat and buy some extras from the farmers’ market. I couldn’t wait to try my hand at canning.

After a trip to the Grimsby Farmers’ Market I had enough cucumbers to make a small batch of pickles. Too bad I forgot to plant dill, I had to buy that too.

It looks like my pickling adventure was a success (and my subsequent spicy dilly bean adventure as well as adventures in jam, all of which I will blog about soon). I do have one concern though, and only time will tell. Apparently in all my researching about canning, I failed to take in one major advisory: use a non-reactive pot.

What does that mean? Pots made of aluminum, cast iron or treated with a non-stick coating can leach a metallic taste into the final product. Non-reactive pans include those made of stainless steal or enamel-coated cast iron.

I used non-stick pans, though mine are not teflon treated, they have a petroleum-free, ceramic-based coating. Anyone have any idea if that makes a difference?

At least there are only four jars of possibly metallic pickles (and four more small ones beans). The jams are safe we used a stainless pot.

Here is the recipe I tried, though I cannot vouch for taste yet.

And there you have it folks, my first canning accomplishment.

And there you have it folks, my first canning accomplishment.

    Blue Ribbon Dill Pickles

    (from Food.com)

    Ingredients:

  • 1 basket of pickling cucumbers
  • Bunch of dill
  • Head of garlic
  • 8 1/2 C water
  • 2 1/4 C pickling vinegar
  • 1/2 C pickling salt

Supplies:

  • Stainless steel pot, large and small size
  • Canning pot
  • 4 pickle-sized canning with rings and lids (make sure to get new lids as the seal is only good for one use)
  • Canning tongs *
  • Canning funnel *
  • Canning magnet *
  • Canning measuring stick *
  • Towels

(*all come together in a kit from Bernadin available at most retailers)

Wash jars either by hand in hot, soapy water or on sterilizer mode in your dishwasher. Rinse and fill with water, set aside.

Fill canner with hot water and set on burner over high heat.

In smaller pot, cover rings and lids with water and bring to simmer.

In large, stainless pot, bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside.

Stuff jars. First layer the garlic (I did two in each) and dill at the bottom (I added some mustard seeds, brown and yellow) then stuff in the cucs. Cram them in there up to the neck. Make sure they are stuffed in there tight or you will have a big empty gap in your finished jar (like with my beans). Top it off with some more dill and another clove of garlic.

Next, get out your trusty little canning funnel and pour in that hot, vinegar-water-salt mix. Careful, it’s hot. Fill jars, leaving a half-inch gap at the top (use your trusty little measuring stick to do that). Wipe off jar rim with warm, damp towel.

Now it’s time to use that little magnet tool. Grab a lid and ring from the simmering pot and place it on top of the jar. Screw down rim, do not tighten to much, but make sure rim is even.

Once jars are filled, use those trusty canning tongs to lower the jar into the canning pot. Bring water almost to a boil, about 15 minutes.

Remove jars from pot with tongs and place on dish towel. Put another towel on top.

Listen for the pop.

If it doesn’t pop, don’t sweat it at first. It can take 12-24 hours for the lid to pop. Mine happened after I went to bed a little depressed that my pickles didn’t pop. It was like Christmas morning when I went downstairs and discovered that over night those lids had sealed. Victory.

And then I learned about the non-reactive pot thing. Less victory.

Another small note. My garlic turned green. No blue. Like blue cheese. I read that this is perfectly normal and has something to do with a reaction between the garlic and water (or maybe my reactive pot?). For the beans, I chopped the garlic and did not have this problem. No more whole garlic in my canning recipes. Unless someone has a suggestion?