Wednesday, September 12, 2012

pickled peppers and produce porn...canning madness pt. 1

Along with my gradual acceptance of fall arriving (slowly!), we are coming into the last push of preserving. At least to a certain extent (there are always projects no matter what the season). Today has been 3 weeks since I started my first attempt at fermentation, using this recipe for hot pepper sauce. I have read a TON about fermentation over the last month or so, and most sources do say to use a salt brine to cover whatever you are fermenting. However, I was intrigued by the idea of just bashing the peppers up with salt, and letting their own juices do the work, and it seems to have worked out just fine! I finally tasted them today, and they are SO DELICIOUS!!!! I can't stop snacking straight out of the jar. I don't think I will even go on to the next step of making hot sauce out of them, because I'm happy to just eat them plain.

day one:

day 21!

I went to a family wedding in Waterloo on the weekend. My cousin looked absolutely beautiful, it was so nice to see extended family after a few years, and to meet new family as well! Every detail was lovely.

I lived in Waterloo for 6 years for my undergrad degree, and haven't been back in about 5 years, so I was really looking forward to eating at some restaurants I used to love, seeing some old friends, and revisiting my favourite spots. It was also really nice to take a mini-trip with my parents, like when I was much younger. We were pretty busy with commitments, but I did manage to get a free hour on Sunday to walk around uptown, and wander through Waterloo park, a place FILLED with memories.

Saturday morning I got to St Jacobs farmers market, and finally fulfilled my dreams of picking up a huge amount (ok only a half bushel, but I'm a single girl here!) of tomatoes. To my knowledge, there is nothing of this scale in Toronto, where almost every stall has small to large quantities of everything imaginable. You do have to be careful, because not everything is local. If that's what you're looking for, make sure to check with the farmer/person managing the booth. I was enamoured with the rows and rows of beautifully vibrant peaches and peppers and oddly enough rhubarb.

I also bought LOTS of hot peppers, small beets, a huge bunch of kale, some yellow beans, and potentially the most delicious cherry tomatoes ever.

Needless to say, I've been in mass preserving mode since I got back. I'll talk about the tomatoes another time, but today I dealt with the rest of the peppers (I did two small half pints of mixed pickles yesterday). For 6$ I got about 3lbs of various hot peppers - jalapenos, cherry, habaneros, a few bananas, anaheims, and one other kind I don't remember. Today I started another round of fermentation. Because I love the results of my last attempt so much, I started a double batch of that. I just sliced 1 lb of various peppers (no habs!), put them in a wide mouth jar, mixed in 2 tbsps of salt, and let them sit for awhile to draw out the juices. I'll bash them a bit in awhile to get them even juicier, and if need be add a bit of brine to cover them. Then I fill a ziploc bag with more brine, and wedge it in the top of the jar to keep everything submerged.

I did another batch (with 1.5 lbs of hot peppers, using one habanero in each jar) of whole or halved peppers in a salt water brine, using this as well as several other Well Preserved posts for guidance. I did a 3.6% brine, dissolving 3 tbsps of salt in 1.5 quarts. I first dissolved the salt in just one cup of water, then added in the rest of the room temperature water (I let it sit overnight for the chlorine to evaporate). I wedged the peppers into two quart jars, and covered them with the brine. I'll use brine-filled ziplocs again to keep them under. These ones I will likely turn into hot sauce, by blending them with some brine and vinegar. We'll see which method I prefer over the next couple of weeks!

I'm away this weekend - at Harvest Festival, pretty much my favourite holiday of the year!!!! I'll let you know next week how the peppers are going, and tell you what I did with 30lbs of tomatoes.

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