As I mentioned last week, when a storm is about to pass through the garden at harvest time, you prepare for some “:thunder and lightning,”making a dish (or dishes) from the quickly picked produce that would have gotten bashed about by the storm. Of course, right now, it’s before the frost. My peppers were so prolific this year and stayed strong through much of the early cold weather, I had a lot to harvest. The same was true of my sage.
One of the things I’ve been playing around with is dehydrating herbs and vegetables from the garden and mixing them into fun jars of seasoning. My favorite, Gringo Sprinkles, is a mix of different hot peppers, garlic, onion, tomatoes, oregano and salt - all dried and ground in a spice grinder and jarred for spontaneous sprinkling on whatever I felt like - steak, tacos, fish. You can also add a hard ground cheese like Parmesan as long as you keep the jar refrigerated.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, it’s easily done in the oven. Just set it to between 17 and 200, and layer cookie sheets of herbs or veggies on each grate. The herbs will take 6-8 hours, and the veggies more. Just slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds if you don’t want the spice too hot. For tomatoes, cut them in half and dump the seeds before you try to dehydrate them.
Another great use of a big bounty of pepper is my kids’ father’s favorite - pepper jelly - so a big batch of that was in order.
1 ½ cup finely chopped and seeded Red Bell Pepper
1 cup finely chopped and seeded Yellow Bell Pepper
1 ¼ cup finely chopped and seeded Green Bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped and seeded Jalapeño
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1.75 oz package powdered pectin
5 cups sugar
6 8oz canning jars
Sterilize six 8oz canning jars and lids in boiling water.
Place the peppers in a large saucepan over high heat.
Mix in the apple cider vinegar and fruit pectin.
Stir constantly. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat.
Add 5 cups of sugar and place back on high heat. Return to a rolling boil for one minute.
Remove from heat. Skim off any foam from top.
Ladle jelly evenly into sterile jars, filling to ¼ inch from top of jar. Cover with flat lids and screw on screw bands tight.
Place jars into canner with hot water that is not boiling. Water should completely cover jar. Cook on high heat to reach a boil. Process for 5 minutes,
Remove from heat.
When jars are completely cooled, check seals by pressing centers of lids with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
Scoop one ladle of pepper jelly in each jar to evenly distribute peppers before completely filling each jar. The peppers rise to the top. If you do not evenly distribute them, you will have no peppers left for the last jars.
As the jars cool, periodically turn them upside-down so all the peppers don;t congregate at the top of the jar before it solidifies.
If you plan to keep the jars in the fridge right away, you don;t need to process them in the water bath.
I personally adjust the pepper ratio to include less bell pepper and more hot, but try it this way first.