In all my years of growing things, peppers, and particularly hot peppers, have probably been my biggest challenge. For some reason, when everything else was doing well the peppers just never seemed to happen. This year the bell peppers continued that tradition… the plants were big and strong and healthy looking, the blossoms were plentiful, but apart from a few sad looking specimens, my bell peppers really didn’t produce much in the way of fruit. This year I’m blaming the lack of water they received. The 4 varieties of hot peppers I planted, however, went absolutely ballistic.
A plethora of hot peppers might be a challenge for some people, but I had no trouble keeping up with them. I didn’t plant anything super intense as I didn’t think there would be much demand for extra hot peppers at the markets I do. I’ve been selling fresh salsa at market this year, and making that mowed through a ton of peppers. My own affection for spicy foods took care of another pile. Still, when I hauled in a harvest a few days ago. I ended up with a bucketful that demanded more creative preservation, so I started searching for ideas. I’m still looking for a hot sauce recipe that appeals to me and I may just have to develop my own. In the meantime, here’s how I took care of that pesky peck of peppers, and a few other things in the process.
Concord Grape and Apple Chutney (Loosely adapted from The Cozy Herbivore)
- 3 lbs. Concord grapes, washed and stems removed
- 6 cups peeled & diced Cortland apples
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3 thumbs of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. cardamom powder
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 fresh Bulgarian Carrot hot peppers, minced ( use more or less depending on desired heat level, you can substitute jalapenos but they don’t have as much flavour)
- 2 fresh Cayenne peppers, minced
- 6 Criolla de Sella peppers, minced
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- Place grapes in a large, heavy-bottomed non-reactive stockpot and bring to a simmer. Cook covered until the grapes become mushy. Remove from heat and squash grapes through a mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing to extract as much of the pulp from the seeds as possible.
- Transfer seed-free pulp to stockpot and stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for about an hour or until mixture thickens and apples break down. Chutney should very thick.
- Pour into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe down the rims of the jars and screw on sterilized lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Turn off heat and allow jars to sit in the water for 5 minutes more.
- Carefully remove jars from hot water and allow to rest undisturbed on a cooling rack for at least 12 hours. Test the lids to ensure they sealed properly. Store in a cool dry place for up to one year.
Hot Pepper Jelly
I used this recipe from The Tiffin Box. Some recipes I found called for up to SIX cups of sugar for the same quantity of jelly. Not cool! Anyway, I did make one change to this recipe: I omitted the sweet peppers and used about 1.5 cups of hot peppers (measured before chopping) instead. It IS supposed to be HOT pepper jelly, right? I may regret that decision, but it’s highly unlikely.
I wanted to make pickled peppers so I’d have the hot peppers readily accessible all winter for chilis, curries, spaghetti sauces, etc. I considered drying them, but I don’t have a dehydrator and leaving the oven on for days on end seemed like a waste of electricity. Freezing was also an option, but it makes the peppers mushy, which isn’t appealing to me. (Not to mention that freezer space is at a premium with 3 porkers and 60-odd chickens headed to freezer camp this week.) Almost every recipe I came across for pickled peppers involved using pickling spices, but I wanted to maintain the pure “pepperness” as much as possible. After all, if I’m going to cook with these suckers, adding spice after the fact makes much more sense to me. Here then, is my pared down pickled pepper recipe, designed to preserve, but other than the vinegar and salt ( which are imperative to the safety of the product) not affect the flavour.
6 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
4 tablespoons kosher salt
It hasn’t happened yet. I ran out of peppers after the pickling. They’re calling for frost tonight, so one of today’s chores is to scrounge any remaining peppers from the garden. If the hot sauce actually happens I’ll edit accordingly. If not, next year!