Those scotch bonnets growing in the garden? Oh they were habanero peppers. One of those instances where finding the labels for the plants should have been done before testing the fruit. No lasting damage done, except to the yogourt tub I attacked while my head was on fire.
MomBlom's household has never been one for spicy food, but with family additions we've been angling for the hotter things in life. As such, a plentiful supply of hot peppers was very exciting, but a little perplexing. What do we do with this much spice? We preserve'em!
As a perfect way to test out this preserving book I picked out at the gift show, I figured I'd get the peppers canned or jarred and see what to do with them next. First thing's first, they're apparently better roasted. That's easy to do! Just wash them and dry them with a paper towel, and lay them on some aluminum foil.
Sprinkle them with oil, place a rack in the top third of the oven, and broil the peppers until they're blistered and blackening.
Nestle them in paper towel (for the oil) until they cool, then slice off the stems (and seeds if you want, but I left them in).
Every time I did this I knew there was a whole new batch of peppers on its way, so instead of going right to the preserving process, I froze the peppers at this point. I don't have the book in front of me, but I think it says that they're good frozen for six months or so. At least three.
When I had enough habanero in the freezer, I got myself a brand new canner, some nifty jars, and a six-pack.
According to the book though, peppers aren't great to preserve on their own. They require a crazy method of canning that even this baby can't do. But sauces and chutneys that are high in acid can be preserved perfectly well with the boiling-water method, so I opted for a hot sauce recipe with plenty of vinegar. I've got the recipe on Pinterest, but for the sake of convenience, I found it here.
One thing I didn't know: the main ingredient in most hot sauces is carrots!
I think next year, if for some reason we grow this many pepper plants, I'll try a batch with fresh peppers. These just look so mushy and sad.
Here's the hot sauce post-puree and pre-simmer. I'm really curious as to the final product. The hot sauce recipe suggests simmering for five minutes to give a bit more of a liquid consistency, although I didn't notice much of a difference. The thing is, I've made two batches now, and each time I didn't have quite enough to fill the last jar. This means the preserving process wouldn't work, so those leftovers just go into the fridge to be eaten by me on everything. But I've yet to hear back what the finished preserved sauce is like.
The preserving process itself is really fun, because it seems so clinical and I like that in my kitchen. The dimensions of this canner make me SO ANGRY, but my first instinct to get squat, wide-mouthed jars was a good one. The boiling-water method is pretty standard and can easily be found on the internet, I'm sure. I got it from a book which makes me feel special, but then that book doesn't have a recipe for hot sauce, and the recipe I used doesn't tell you how long to boil the jars for. I made do with instructions for a tomato-sweet pepper chutney, which seemed to have most of the same ingredients, and boiled the filled jars for 25 minutes. That's why I don't know exactly how the finished product will taste; only the onions, garlic, and carrots are really cooked in the recipe, so I don't know what will happen to the heat or consistency after being boiled for another 25 minutes.
It won't kill anybody though, I know that.