This is it – Summer’s last huzzah in the form of tomatoes from our bulk buys and peppers from the farmer’s market.
Why peppers? Because when the sun sets in October here in the Pacific Northwest and doesn’t reliably return until early summer, I cling to every thing bright and fiery that I can. That may be a crackling fireplace (burn bans notwithstanding), it may be a hot cuppa joe, and it certainly will be in the form of cheery, zippy peppers that I squirrel away like there is no tomorrow and stuff into every dish I can all winter long. Like a shot of schnapps in sub-zero windchill that warms my soul.
I have many favorite ways to preserve these summer beauties.
Fermented Pepper Sauce.
To make it, simply cut the tops off about 6 pounds of your favorite peppers, place them in a food processor with enough water to process them, and place them in a large jar or crock. Add 1/4 cup of whey, 1/4 cup kosher salt and a chopped head of garlic, cover with a towel and let it get bubbly on the counter for 3-5 days. When the bubbling subsides jar and refrigerate. If you like more acid, add some apple cider vinegar. You could then strain the liquid, or use it as a paste. I like to add the seeds and a bit of the paste to apple jelly or apricot preserves as I make these things, instead of making a separate batch of red pepper jelly. It tastes phenomenal on crackers with Pav’s Annette cheese, or cream cheese, or chevre.
Brook introduced me to fermented salsa awhile back and it’s a personal favorite. The salsa lasts in the fridge into mid to late winter (if you’ve made enough). The flavor and color are like fresh salsa because it’s never been cooked and the nutrients and enzymes are intact and loaded with beneficial bacteria.
Quick Pickled Peppers (a Peck)
I pulled out the cherry bomb peppers from my box of mixed peppers and simply put them in mason jars covered with a mixture of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar. This will keep them pickled and perfect for winter pizzas and sandwiches when the tomatoes have run out. They are also great chopped and added to cornbread.
Smoked Jalapeno Peppers
I love these. I’m not sure what more I can say about them to convince you that you simply must try them. I love them on grilled cheese sandwiches, mixed with mayo, on hamburgers, in salsa, on nachos, in beans and bean soups, in mashed winter squash with Beechers, and in carnitas (more on that later.) They require very little active time to make and last for at least a year in the refrigerator.
To make them, simply cut off the stem end, slice the peppers in half and cold smoke for about four hours. Once that is done I dehydrate them until they are about 1/3 of their original mass and store them in the fridge in mason jars.
Try adding them to your favorite salsa recipe to alter the flavor dramatically.
An Easy Canning Day Dinner – Carnitas
In fact, the easiest ever. Cook a pork roast covered with water, a teaspoon of salt and several smoked jalapenos for several hours, until it’s fork tender. Serve with beans, salsa and fresh veg. Pickled pepper cornbread would make a most excellent side dish.
Do you have your summer bottled and ready to dispense yet?