Monday, October 11, 2010

The End of the Canning Season

Well, today I probably finished my canning for the year: The yield from my pepper plants is winding down (the tomatoes are pretty much already done, except for onesy-twosies), and what I'm getting now is mostly the long red peppers (cayenne and hot Portugals) and habaneros (they're always the last to come in and the last to give up). So I made a double batch of red pepper jelly, using the same recipe I posted previously for jalapeno jelly, with the following modifications:
  • In place of the 4 green bell peppers, I used 3 red bell peppers (3 instead of 4 because, at least at my market, the red bells run significantly bigger)
  • In place of the 4-6 jalapenos, I used 4 long red peppers (and as with the jalapeno jelly, I added some habanero for extra heat).
The jars are still cooling and setting, of course, but based on a lick-the-spoon test, I have high hopes for this counterpoint to the green jelly I've so enjoyed making over the years.

Interestingly enough, while I was busy chopping peppers this afternoon, regular Emerging Foodie commenter JackC and his wife stopped by on their way home from a holiday weekend at the shore. Canning has this interesting dynamic: You spend all this time putting up jellies and pickled peppers and relishes, and yet, until you have a chance to open the jars and use what you've made, you never really know if it's any good. Unlike a dish prepared to be eaten right away, there's no immediate feedback; even the lick-the-spoon test only provides a rough approximation of what jellies will be like once they've set, and pickles and preserves that get processed in a boiling-water canner are even harder to guess at.

So Jack's visit put me in the odd position of giving food gifts — one jar each of jalapeno jelly, sweet-hot relish, and pickled habaneros and reds — without actually knowing how they would taste.

Well, lovely fellow that he is, Jack apparently sampled everything as soon as he got home and sent me a generally positive review: The relish is apparently not as hot as I'd intended (it's easy to get gun-shy with the habaneros, given how pungent they smell when you're cutting them), but the flavor is reportedly good; the jelly is "wondrous"; and the pickled peppers "awesome."

Even if he's just being kind, it's good to know I didn't kill him! ;^)

1 comment:

  1. Bill - my nearly-15-year old came home from school today and the first words out of his mouth were, basically "Can I have another one of those crackers with the green pepper stuff?"


    I made a sandwich for lunch today - turkey, ham and provolone with Jack Daniels mustard, onions and as many of the red and yellow peppers I could get on in between, It freshened up things rather nicely. I am still looking for other opportunities to use these tasties. I need to go talk to my neighbor!

    While writing the above, I recalled I was going to "retaste" the relish today. I did so, but then had a thought... I took out the habaneros and removed one round each of the hab and the red peppers, diced them up and added that to about a fat tsp of the relish. Also added a dash of the juice.

    That warmed the relish up considerably - but the flavours are a bit to rapid leaving only the heat behind. At least as made, the flavour is there with a very subdued heat. Ah well.

    As I said, I am not strong on sweet relish, but that doesn't mean I don't care for sweet at all - the relish is nice, but needs a little more heat (and maybe other flavours) I think. The other spices seem to be a bit subdued as well - though now it is a bit hard to tell since the habs have set my tongue alight...

    Tasting is Fun!