Tag Archive | fermented hot sauce

Meaningful Satisfaction

Nine pounds of tomatoes in the over-sink colander for yesterday’s kitchen project, another batch of salsa.
Ingredients for the second batch of salsa, all from the garden! I can’t help crowing about it. Remembering the intention I set thirty years ago, or more accurately the wish I declared: “I want to buy some land and grow my own food.” Each meal I prepare from the garden, each batch of food from the garden I put up in cans or the freezer, I feel such meaningful satisfaction.
Assorted hot peppers diced: jalapeños, Jigsaw peppers, and an Aji Crystal.
This salsa recipe adds an interesting step: chop all ingredients and strain them over a bowl for six hours. This allegedly helps the tomatoes retain their body in the salsa. You simmer the liquid from them with vinegars and tomato paste (I used last year’s frozen cubes) until it reduces a bit, then add the diced fruits and bring to a boil again. I’ve been really happy with the two batches I made this way.

One of today’s kitchen projects was to combine both batches of fermented peppers and blend them into a hot sauce rough draft. I’ll ferment at least one more batch of yellow, orange and red peppers along with a carrot or two and a red onion from the garden, and then blend all these phases together before bottling. It was naive of me to think the various pepper varieties would all ripen at the same time, and I’m grateful for allowing things to be as they are and adapting my plans accordingly.

Beware, all ye who said my previous batch of hot sauce “wasn’t hot enough”!
This jar will wait in the fridge for the remaining peppers to ripen and ferment. I will probably end up saving the Datil peppers for their own hot sauce, but use the rest of the Scorpions and Aji Crystals for sauce–we’ll know more later.

Another of today’s kitchen projects was spicy dill pickles. I made six half-pints and for the first time in my nascent canning career made a dreadful mistake. Not the first mistake I’ve made canning, but the first time I’ve made this one: I screwed one ring on crooked so the lid wasn’t held down and didn’t seal. Somehow, though, the jar didn’t fill with canning water: the pickles smelled fine, so I reset the lid and stuck the jar in the fridge. I’ll test it in a couple of weeks, the recommended time for pickles to steep before tasting. If it goes bad, oh well, compost. I put a tiny red Jigsaw pepper and one slice of orange jalapeño in each jar, along with a quarter teaspoon of dill seed.

After a busy day in the garden and kitchen and a couple of short walks, I lay on my back on the chaise for toes-up time. Little Wren had to investigate so she jumped up on my belly and coming close, cocked her head: What are you doing? Do you want me to lick your face?

Zucchini Lunch

Grateful for a small carrot harvest…
…and another big bean harvest…
…grateful for this lovely little jigsaw pepper, with whimsical foliage and fun fruits…
each tiny pepper a burst of smoky heat.
Grateful for a bountiful fennel seed harvest, despite planting them for bulbs. I harvested a few green and tasty to see how well they retain their flavor drying off the plant; there are dozens more drying on the stem. The stalks grew magnificent flowers and seedheads, but I learned the hard way not to wait too long before harvesting bulbs even if they’re small. I got four big bulbs out of more than a dozen plants, and one day I noticed that the bulbs I’d been waiting for to get bigger had started shrinking. Next season, I’ll plant fewer, farther between, and pounce at the right moment.

I’m grateful for the first Boyz Lunch in a month yesterday. All is well and we are reunited on the patio. “Three is good,” said one, but it may as well have been the other. I tried out a zucchini lasagna on them, and even though I thought it was too salty they loved it. I’m grateful that almost every dish I cook for them they rate in the Top Five. This zucchini lasagna was a blend of three recipes I found online. I sliced a large zucchini thinly with a cheese slicer and layered it with a faux-ricotta blend (substituting cream cheese when I found the ricotta had turned pink), last year’s tomato sauce simmered with browned sausage, and shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Three layers deep in the baking dish, with the top layer latticed, a delightful frill.

Sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, then baked for half an hour, it was sizzling delight.

Boyz Lunch on Saturday with sourdough biscuits, then double dessert. I’m grateful for zucchini lunch. I served chocolate zucchini cake with Bello’s frozen cappuccino on the side. “All you have to do is…” he says every time. So simple, so delicious!

And finally, fermenting success! This second batch of hot sauce peppers I packed with room temperature brine, and in four days it was cloudy as it should be, and tiny bubbles rose from the bottom when I swished the jar. Into the fridge with this batch, and I’ll start another tomorrow.

Rainbows

The past week’s hot pepper harvest, ready to roll…
Practicing resilience, gambling, trying another batch of fermented hot sauce. This time, I let the saltwater brine cool down before pouring it over the peppers. The first batch met an ambiguous end. It’s been over a week, and still no bubbles, no cloud; so I poured off the brine, patted the peppers dry, and laid them on a pan in the oven at 275℉ for an hour. I should have left it at that. Instead, I turned it up to 400℉ for 20 minutes to give them a bit of a roast. When the timer went off, I was engrossed in something else, and way too long later I pulled them out of the oven. It’s possible I can salvage them with a pulse in the blender as ‘dark-roasted pepper flakes.’ I tasted one: smoky, salty, hot. We’ll know more later! I will pay more attention to this batch.
I’m grateful for a gorgeous storm that walked in late this afternoon…
…and grateful for this spectacular, fleeting rainbow that greeted me when I went outside to harvest tomatoes. Grateful to be a part of this fragile, precious world.

Patio

I’m grateful for the patio where I hang out some afternoons in the shade. It’s nothing fancy, but it cools off in the afternoon, and there’s a whole lot of world to participate in when I’m out there. Often I read, so there’s that whole universe opened up by books, right there on the patio. And always, I look up and around often, especially when Wren alerts me to someone else’s presence. She’s so gentle about it. I hear her little body jump up from wherever she’s relaxing nearby, and run a few quiet steps to stand near my chaise, and I look up and follow her gaze. Today she was slowly wagging her curly tail at the Old Doe, who stood looking up from grazing in the flower bed. Beyond her, one of her spotted fawns browsed in the shady grove. Sadly, I saw this same fawn in the yard with her yesterday, but only the one… I worry that the other twin may have fed a lion. Oh well. Everybody’s gotta eat.

I had to chuckle watching this unfold. Biko kept on walking as he always does no matter what’s in front of him, and the Old Doe got out of his way, stepping all the way into the flower bed for him to pass, then stepping out again.
I was too comfortable to get up and go inside to get Husband Camera, so I tried the phone to catch this little hummingbird sipping from Jere’s orchid. Still haven’t cleaned the mud streaks from the picture window, but I’ll get to it one day; I did rinse the melted adobe off the plant leaves. Hanging out on the patio I get to hear the summer music of hummingbirds flying around, finches chirping, jays squawking, hawks soaring overhead, ravens cawing, crickets sawing, wind tickling the leaves of birch and aspen…

My kitchen project today was to begin fermenting the first batch of peppers. Five Aji Crystals, four Chimayos, an orange jalapeño, and the one ripe scorpion. I touched the end cap of one of each flavor to my tongue as I cut them up (wearing gloves), and my tongue tingled for an hour. The scorpion was my favorite, with a very distinct tropically fruity flavor along with its searing heat. And yes, that’s a carrot at the bottom. The recipe calls for garlic and shallots also, but I wanted to use only plants from my garden so I just included this carrot. Maybe I’ll add some garlic into later fermenting jars, and maybe I’ll mix them all together when it comes time to blend the final sauce; or maybe I’ll just make a bunch of different batches. We’ll know more later!